Daniella Ponticelli’s voice will forever be a part of a moment in women’s hockey history.
Ponticelli and Cheryl Pounder, a Canadian hockey player and Olympic gold medallist, were the play-by-play announcers for the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League opener between Toronto and New York on New Year’s Day at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.
A snap shot from New York defenceman Ella Shelton that zipped through traffic in front of Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell and slid behind her made history as the first goal in the league.
“Ella Shelton scores! History is hers!” Ponticelli shouted over the din of cheering fans at the sold-out arena. “The first goal of the professional women’s hockey league, Ella Shelton.”
Ponticelli, a former CBC Saskatchewan reporter and current PWHL announcer, said she was wasn’t sure how she would call the inevitable first goal of the game and the league, so she jotted down her ideas on a piece of paper that’s now a memento of the first PWHL game.
“It felt like a great release and relief when that moment happened,” she recalled, “because, you know, everyone’s waiting for it and it was just a beautiful goal, too.”
An impossible dream
Ponticelli said co-announcer Cheryl Pounder had referred to seeing the day of the first PWHL game happen “her impossible dream.”
“Being able to actually share that with her helped me pause a little bit and take in that moment,” Ponticelli said of the chance to call the play-by-play at the league’s first game.
There are challenges to being a voice for the new league, Ponticelli said, including the fact that there very few statistics available to add to the broadcast, even though many of the women have played on national teams — in international tournaments such as the Olympics or with the International Ice Hockey Federation.
That will change as the season progresses, she says, and she’s proud to be a part of what she calls a product of generations of “grit and determination.”
“It’s been building and building and building, and so that’s what makes me the most proud to be a part of this … that I’m just one little person in this big movement of people dedicated to the women’s game,” she said, adding that includes men.
She will announce the next game in Toronto on Jan. 13 against Ottawa.