Wandering Misfits hold worldly yet local impact

Founded by Jessica Lafreniere and Tanja Hutahajan, who serves as team captain, the initial raison d’etre of the Wandering Misfits was in the roots of an independent touring team.

With the mission statement of “We’re taking on the world, one rink at a time”, the Wandering Misfits hold dual purposes. From tireless efforts in growing its organization, while observing the bigger picture of growing the game for women, regardless of skill level.

Currently among the member teams of the Central York Girls Hockey Association (CYGHA) senior women’s league, . With players ranging in age from 29 to 58, having once called Hollingsworth Arena home, a fixture in Newmarket’s local athletic picture for over four decades, demolition began on the hallowed facility in December 2020.

With a strong focus on building competitive relationships with European women’s hockey, a key facet of the enjoyment for the Wandering Misfits involves traveling to different parts of the world. Emphasizing a sense of goodwill, reciprocating respect and friendship among opposing teams, that also extends to creating a strong culture with new teammates, as Lafreniere emphasizes,

“Yes, absolutely there is a sense of goodwill. The local teams do not have the same playing opportunities or ice time availability as we do here, so they welcome meeting competitors from around the world. We share a common interest and for many, a passion. Before the games, the teams exchange gifts and often the hosts organize dinners for the players to be able to mingle.

They have even provided billeting for players to ensure they can come and participate. Through it, we have made and maintained hockey friends because there is a common connection through sport.

Being an amputee player and having a number of LGBT players one our team, inclusion has always been a part of who we are and what we stand for. We have a relatively set core of players but do fill our roster with pick ups from time to time.

When you see these players interacting with other teammates you would never think they were new to the team. We do introductions and they are immediately immersed into the team. It is a testament to the whole team that we make all players feel welcome.”

The origins of the Wandering Misfits date back to 2014 when a group of six Canadian women comprised a roster of competitors at the Ida Chappot Women’s Ice Hockey tournament in Chamonix, France, home of the first-ever Winter Games in 1924.

With a group of gracious skaters from France and Switzerland added to the roster, the combination of hospitality and breathtaking visuals, mountain range of Mont Blanc, the aftermath of the experience resulted in the drive to create the ‘Wandering Misfits’. With a mission of visiting numerous corners of the globe while competing in a sport so dear to them, their mantra of ‘taking on the world, one rink at a time’,

Looking back on Chamonix, the experience meant a proud milestone to Hutahajan. Detailing the origins of the trip, it represents a residual warmth,

“For years, I did not take vacation and finally in 2013, travelled to Germany after many years of not being abroad. It was amazing to travel again and before that trip was over, I was already looking towards my next adventure.

At the time, I was co-owner of B2B Women’s Hockey League and an email blast landed in our mail inviting us to play hockey in France and then continue on travelling into Italy. As soon as I saw that I said ‘We are doing this’ and before my trip to Germany was even over, had the gears in motion for France.

The opportunity to combine my two passions into one experience was amazing. It also meant the chance to meet new people and forge new hockey friendships and connections. We remain connected with the players we met in Europe and where possible, invite them to join us in other tournaments.”

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