From Middle Sackville to Sweden, a hockey player follows her pro dream
'I just want to play as hard as I can and see where the opportunities take me,' says Savannah Newton
It's a long way from Springfield Lake in Middle Sackville, N.S., to Gavle, Sweden.
But that's the trip 22-year-old hockey player Savannah Newton will be making this week in order to pursue her dream of playing professional hockey, joining Brynas IF of the Swedish Women's Hockey League.
"I'm really excited about it," said Newton, following an on-ice workout last Thursday at the Halifax Forum.
It's believed Newton will become the first Nova Scotia woman to play in the Swedish professional league, which was formed in 2008.
"I think it's really exciting that the more female hockey develops, there's more opportunity out there for us, like this one," said Newton, who admits she knows very few Swedish words.
"I'm excited to be the first one to go over, and it's exciting times for female hockey that's for sure."
Newton went to Boston University on an athletic scholarship. She spent the last four seasons playing for the Terriers, one of the top college hockey teams in the United States.
The steady defenceman moved away from home in 2010 at the age of 15 after she played all her minor hockey on boys teams in the Sackville Minor Hockey Association.
She went on to attend Appleby College, a prep school in Oakville, Ont. That was a decision she had no regrets making.
"I thought going away really did help me in my hockey career, but if I had to choose again it would be a lot tougher decision because female hockey has come so far and it's really strong now here in Nova Scotia."
In her final days in the Halifax area before leaving for Sweden, Newton has spent some time on the ice with Jillian Saulnier, a Nova Scotian who played for Canada's Women's Olympic Hockey Team in 2018.
One of Saulnier's Team Canada teammates, Jennifer Wakefield, will be playing for the same team as Newton this season in Sweden. Newton's contract with Gavle starts Sept. 16 and runs until the end of March.
"This year I just want to play as hard as I can and see where the opportunities take me," she said. "I have friends that I've met through university hockey who play all through Europe and more women are now starting to play in different European leagues."
Newton comes from an athletic family.
Her brother Brody is one of Canada's top water skiers and is on an athletic scholarship at a university in Louisiana. Her younger brother Chase is a Special Olympian who competes in track-and-field, swimming and speed skating.