Toronto Six forward Mikyla Grant-Mentis takes home MVP and Newcomer of the Year.
Mikyla Grant-Mentis made history last week by becoming the first black player to win the NWHL MVP award. The forward led the Toronto Six in goals and helped them to an appearance in the Isobel Cup Semi-finals during the 2021 season. The 22 year old was also the first black player to win Newcomer of the Year, was one of six Foundation Award recipients, and one of the fan-voted Three Stars of the Season.
Grant-Mentis did leave a few awards for other players. Kaleigh Fratkin was named Defender of the Year for the second straight season. Fratkin’s stellar defense was a key in the Boston Pride’s 2021 Isobel Cup win. Amanda Leveille of the Minnesota Whitecaps was named Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time in her career. Leveille’s 44 saves in the Whitecaps’ semifinal game against the Connecticut Whale propelled the team to their second straight Isobel Cup Final.
The Denna Laing Award is awarded to the player who exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to her sport. This year’s recipient was Metropolitan Riverter’s defenseman Saroya Tinker. Tinker is the first black player to win the award and has been outspoken about racism in hockey and her goal to make the sport more inclusive for everyone.
Fans were able to witness these historic wins live on Twitch thanks to the NWHL’s new partnership with Discover. The partnership allowed the league to host its first ever awards extravaganza. This partnership, along with the great success of the league’s sixth season, has led to the recent announcement that the NWHL will double its salary cap for the 2021–22 season from $150,000 to $300,000. The enduring success of the NWHL is hopefully a sign of things to come in Women’s Sports.