Even with the inception of the NWHL and the ever-growing prominence of the CWHL, Jennifer Wakefield isn’t going to resist the opportunity to play against the toughest men’s competition she can find.
Wakefield, 26, has spent the past two seasons in Sweden, but this will be the first time she’s playing solely men’s hockey.
In 2013-14, Wakefield suited up in Riksserien, Sweden’s women’s league, as well as playing in the Olympics in Sochi, but this past season she got her first shot at men’s action. As she has done just about everywhere she has played, Wakefield made the most of the opportunity.
During her 15-game stint with IK Guts of Sweden’s Division 3, Wakefield notched five goals and 13 points. Her play with IK Guts paved the way for her opportunity with Boras HC, the second division men’s team she’ll be playing with in 2015-16.
“It'll be very excited to be playing with Boras this season,” Wakefield said in a release. “It feels like a really good organization to be part of. The team's goal is to take the step up (to the top division) so my own objective will be to help in any way.”
Wakefield added that she thinks she’ll need to adjust to the speed of the second-tier men’s league, but her new coach in Boras, Hasse Hansson, said Wakefield’s speed is her strong suit.
“I was impressed above all of her speed during the (Women’s World Championship) in spring in Malmö,” Hansson said. “I can't wait to see her with us.”
At the women’s Worlds, Wakefield finished tied for third in scoring by women, notching two goals and five points in five games en route to a silver medal with Team Canada.
By suiting up full-time in a men’s league next season, Wakefield joins the likes of fellow Canadian Olympians Hayley Wickenheiser and Shannon Szabados as women suiting up in men’s leagues. Finnish goaltenders Noora Raty and Meeri Raisanen also play professionally alongside men in Finland’s second division.
Wakefield has represented Canada in international competition six times, winning gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2012 World Championships.