Abby Cook struggles to put into words the feeling of stepping out on the ice in front of thousands of cheering fans.

Cook plays defence for Boston in the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), a six-team North American league that’s having a barn-burner of an inaugural season making history and setting records. 

Cook played in front of 13,736 people during a game in March against Ottawa, which set the U.S.’s current PWHL attendance record. 

“It’s hard to describe it,” says Cook, who honed her hockey skills as a kid growing up in the Okanagan.

“The fans were singing the whole game; they were so into it. We took it to a shootout, so we gave them the ultimate experience.”

A viral video recorded during the second period of the game captures the emotional hockey moment. Thousands of fans watching Ottawa play Boston inside the Detroit Red Wings’ home rink sing along to Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’ as it plays over the speakers during a break in the action. The music ends, but the singing doesn’t, filling the arena with unified voices.

“I remember I was looking left and right on the bench and thinking this is insane, they’re going to sing the whole song,” says Cook in an interview with Trends.

“Every game is everything that we could hope for and more.”

The 26-year-old has been on skates nearly her whole life — first on the ice at two years old in Yellowknife with her dad and older brother. When Cook was six, her family moved to Kelowna where there were opportunities for both her and her brother to play hockey. 

She joined the Heat organization and played with the boys until she was a teenager when she switched to girls hockey. She attended the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy.

Cook’s skills landed her a full scholarship to Boston University, where she got a degree in Health Sciences. From there, she played a year in Sweden during the pandemic, then a partial season in Boston for the Pride in the Premier Hockey Federation. Last year she played in Switzerland.

“I’m very thankful for hockey. It’s showed me the world,” she says.

During the PWHL draft in September 2023, Cook was working in Kelowna as assistant coach for the female prep team at RINK Hockey Academy. A few days after the draft, Minnesota’s assistant coach emailed to ask if she would be interested in going to training camp. 

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“It was a no-brainer,” says Cook. 

Training camp started in mid-November and lasted three weeks. “On the very last day the GM called me to tell me that I had made the team. I was instantly excited. I couldn’t wait to tell my parents.”

Cook’s role in PWHL history goes beyond playing in front of record-breaking crowds. She is also part of the league’s first ever trade.

“When I got the phone call, it was very shocking in the moment,” she says. “I was like what am I going to do? How am I going to get myself to Boston? How am I going to get out of my apartment? It was so much going on in the moment.”

Minnesota forward Susanna Tapani (who happened to be Cook’s roommate), was also involved in the three-player deal with Boston. Cook says being traded with Tapani made the experience easier.

“We packed up very quickly,” she says. “We got the phone call at 4 p.m. on Sunday and we were on a plane at 3 p.m. the next day to go to Boston.”

Cook says the PWHL’s first season has proven there’s an appetite for professional women’s hockey. She pointed to the Toronto and Montreal match that sold out the Bell Centre – home of the Montreal Canadiens – within an hour of tickets going on sale. That game set the top PWHL attendance record of 19,285.

Cook says she would love to see the PWHL eventually expand west.

“I’m very excited for the future of the league.”