By Jennifer Roback
Hockey history has been made by 16-year-old Taya Currie as she became the first woman drafted by the Ontario Hockey League.
Currie was pick No. 267 in the 14th round of the draft and was selected by the Sarnia Sting.
“It’s pretty incredible,” Currie said. “I feel honored to be drafted by the Sarnia Sting, it’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time.”
With her historic draft pick, Currie will also become only the third woman to play in a Canadian hockey league, behind goaltender Shannon Szabados and Trois-Riveres Draveurs. However, both Szabados and Draveurs were never drafted, only signed.
The Parkhill, Ontario, native started playing hockey at the age of four and always had her heart set on being a goaltender.
With this historic moment, Currie will now inspire a new group of female youth hockey players.
“I want to send a message to follow your own path,” Currie said. “I played where I enjoyed and kept improving my game.”
Currie last played for the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs triple-A boys’ under-16 team. Despite COVID-19 leading to an unusual season, Currie and her team were able to play a few games in February and to hold regular practices on and off the ice.
Since her draft selection, Currie has gained a lot of media attention. She received a congratulations tweet from Manon Rheaume, the only woman who played in the NHL. Back in the 1992-93 NHL season, Rheaume suited up with the Tampa Bay Lightning for exhibition games.
Currie even captured the attention from the NHL. The Anaheim Ducks posted a video on Twitter of the Ducks and Lady Ducks congratulating her on the historic moment.
Currie’s size hasn’t stopped her from keeping up with the boys. The 5-foot-7 only weighs 143 pounds, but she makes up for it with her strength and speed.
“My greatest strength is my side-to-side speed and athleticism,” Currie said. “I am very determined and competitive, and these traits have helped me push myself to be the best I can be.”
Ahead of the draft, Currie described herself as flexible, and said that she wants to be known as the goalie everyone hates to play against, but loves to have on the team.
In her spare time, Currie also competes in rugby, soccer and barrel races. Darrell Woodley, the OHL’s director of central scouting, commented on how this has continued to help her skills on the ice. “She is known to be a good rugby player, a soccer player, and the one that I found very interesting was a barrel racer,” said Woodley. “Those things just prove how athletic she is. She challenges well, she moves well in her net. She has been playing with the boys in ‘AAA’ since Minor Atom (U10), so she has been there for seven years, she is well-accustomed to the speed of the game and she has no trouble keeping up. She is one of the best goalies I have seen this year in the Alliance.”
There is no guarantee that Currie will ever play a game in the OHL, but her historic draft will still be an inspirational moment in women’s hockey history.
In terms of her collegiate future, playing a game in the OHL will make her ineligible to play in the NCAA, but she has her sights set much higher, saying that she would love to play for Team Canada someday.
“I don't want to be the girl that plays with boys’ hockey,” Currie said. “I want to be known as a normal teammate to the boys and just as a family. Treat me like a normal player on the team. I don't want to be different than the boys."