"Tori is a fierce competitor," said UNH head coach Hilary Witt. "She was a leader on our team who we relied on in every situation of the game. I am so happy for and proud of Tori."
That statement doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about our new defender Victoria “Tori” Howran, from the University if New Hampshire Wildcats, but it’s a great place to start. And for the record, Tori told us “I mostly go by Tori, it’s better than Victoria I feel like, as a nickname It’s shorter, it’s it’s easier to get my attention!” There are a lot of ways to sum up a player in a sound bite, but being called “fierce” has to be at the top of that list. Our 5’9” blue liner seems to fit the the bill of the Whale’s desire to add a big defender to their core, and when we mentioned that to Tori, she said modestly, “I suppose I do.” Tori hails from Bancroft, Ontario which sits a couple of hours north of Toronto. And, just about the same distance from Huntsville, Ontario, home of our #20 Laurel Hill. “ I did not know Laurel lived so close.!” she said. But we began our chat with Tori by asking her what things were like on Draft Night up in her neck of the woods, and said we imagined it was pretty exciting. Tori acknowledged
“Yes it was very exciting watching the first couple of rounds on Tuesday night! I wasn’t expecting to hear my name. I was surrounded by family, so after hearing my name it was good to enjoy the moment with them, it was definitely an exciting time for my family and I. And I was very honored to be drafted by Connecticut and sign with them eventually. It was a unique way of doing each player, being announced by female supporters, I enjoyed it a lot, seeing that. I think it needs to happen more often where females support females, so yeah. They’ve (the NWHL) done a great job so far, and a I think they will continue to do a really good job, for sure. I’m very excited for the upcoming season, and I talked to Colten today and he seems excited and hopeful for this season too. They ended up on a high note for the playoffs and that was a good sign, and hopefully we can keep that going.” Tori mentioned the Draft format, and her own selection was announced by the Chief Brand Officer of WWE, Stephanie McMahon. We asked Tori if she was a fan or if that was totally random? “I think that was totally random, as far as I know. I had no idea she was announcing me or that I was being announced. I mean, she did a great job, I really enjoyed it, it was a lot of fun. I don’t watch a lot of wrestling, but my a Dad actually knew more about her than I had, so that was interesting.”
Since it seemed Tori was back in Canada, we asked where and how she is dealing with the pandemic. “I’m at home in Ontario, Bancroft, Ontario, with my parents. I did my fourteen days of isolation after traveling back from the US. So, I was locked in my basement pretty much. So that’s where I’ve been, mostly staying at home during this time. I do workouts at home and I’ve been studying and doing my school work because I’m finishing up my senior year in the next week or so. It hasn’t been a drastic change, but it is a change being home this early, compared to most years when I’m home in late May. I have been working out just to maintain and gain, as much as I can without weight training. It’s definitely been a challenge, trying to keep my endurance up. So hopefully come July or August, I can either travel down to Connecticut to train or stay here and train at a gym. Bray told me about Prentiss Performance and it sounds like a good set-up. So hopefully I can take it to my advantage and use it as much as I can.”
Cetacean Nation also asked what Tori’s normal summer training regimen looked like, and she replied "Typically I would workout Monday through Friday and take the weekend off. I would condition three to four times a week during those Monday-Friday splits. I worked 9-5 last summer so I worked out in the morning, did my job, came home, and that was sort of my daily routine. This year it wii be a little different, but we’ll see how that works out."
Throwing it back a bit, we asked how little Tori first get started in hockey up in Bancroft. She laughed and said “It has been awhile:). I actually started out figure skating. My sister was a figure skater and my Mom grew up figure skating, so it was just natural I would be a figure skater. And then one year, one of our local hockey teams didn’t have enough players so they asked me to play, and my Mom said: Sure, she can play one year, it will be no big deal, she’ll go back to figure skating. That one year has turned into nine or ten years now! Laurel laughed. Ever since I started, I looked up to my two older brothers, they played hockey, so it was great to have some role models close to home, yeah.”
Cetacean Nation knew Tori had skated with the Whitby Wolves, and we asked if that was the program she actually started with. She informed us
“No, that’s not where I started. I started locally in Bancroft, with a rep team, named the Bancroft Jets. Then when I was about nine I think, I traveled to Belleville and played with the Quinnie Red Devils. It was a boys team, and I played with them for a year. Then I traveled to Peterborough, and played with the Peterborough Ice Cats for a year. I’ve done a lot of traveling! So then I took a couple of years and just played locally on both girls and boys teams. And then I started traveling to Whitby for four years. And while playing with Whitby, I kept playing with a local boys team, just in case I couldn’t travel due weather circumstances or whatever, for practice. And I would be able to get on the ice here and still be practicing. My high school hockey team at North Hastings was a boys team, we didn’t have a high school hockey girls team. So, it was sort of just like a winter sport thing. But at one point I was playing with them, and I was playing with Bancroft, and I was playing with Whitby, so it was a lot! I was always on the ice! "
Cetacean Nation guessed that hockey at Hastings probably wasn’t her main focus. Tori acknowledged.
"No it wasn’t, but it was a lot of fun. There were a lot of players I played with locally who also played high school here. We were allowed to play both teams, so we would sort of double practice. I first year I was playing with one of my older brothers, so it was a lot of fun to be able to do that. We are three years apart, so that was our first time playing together, so that was pretty cool. And then my other brother ended up coaching us, so it was like a family affair. All three! If we could just throw my sister in there, it would have been all of us:) But we couldn’t figure out a job for her yet ", she added laughing. "She was mostly a figure skater, but she did play one year of house league hockey. She did well and completed her goals in figure skating. All of my siblings and I spent a lot of time at the rink! “
Cetacean Nation then asked if Tori had always skated on D, and she explained “For the most part I’ve normally played defense. Once and awhile coaches would throw me up at forward for whatever reason. And sometimes on the power play I’ve played forward, because I’m a big body who can stand in front of the net” she laughed. But mostly I’ve played defense, it’s definitely my strength in hockey I‘ve found. I’m definitely a defensive defenseman but I’m leaning towards trying to build on my offensive aspect of playing.”
Tori was a Gold medalist with her U18 Team Ontario squad in the Canadian National Championship, and a Silver medalist with her U18 Team Canada at the World Championship, and we asked her what those events were like.
“It was a phenomenal experience. My Provincial team going to the National Championship and winning that, was quite the experience, that I won’t forget. We actually played at Huntsville, that’s ironic, (Because Huntsville as we mentioned is where our #20 Laurel Hill is from) I did not know Laurel lived so close.” That’s where the Championships were. So they were great experiences for both my Provincial and National Teams. My family was able to come, and many of my friends were able to come and watch me play, and encourage me, and support me. It was just great playing at World’s against some of the best player’s across the world, it was just mind blowing, Such a phenomenal experience I won’t forget, that’s for sure"
Tori added “I know a couple of people who were drafted, were actually on my team,for Team Canada U18’s. I played with Kayla Friesen who was also drafted by the Whale, and Saroya Tinker who was drafted,to Metropolitan I believe. I”ve played with her and against her. There are others who are in the league or probably going to sign with the league. i think it’s definitely fun to play with people you know snd see them before the game or after the game. It brings that extra intensity sometimes just because you don’t want to lose ro them or you won’t have the bragging rights" she said laughing "I mean I respect all of them, they’re all great players, but at the end of the day I still want to win with my teammates.”
As you have learned along with us, Tori has played a lot of hockey growing up. And with all that we asked her if she had an opportunity to try any other sports?
“Throughout high school I played many sports. I played field hockey, I did volleyball, I did badminton at one point, and then I did track and field. And then in the summers, in between hockey seasons, I generally played beach volleyball! So that was something I really enjoyed growing up, and my sister also played. We each played doubles in different age categories, and we’d go to tournaments and compete, so that was a lot of fun growing up, to be able to do that.”
Tori mentioned participating in track & field at Hastings, and we noted she is still listed on the school’s All-Time records with a triple jump of 9.32 meters (4th), a long jump of 4.22 meters (7th), and a javelin throw of 28.42 meters (3rd). We wondered if any of that explosiveness translated over to hockey, and if she had a favorite memory of the sport?Tori revealed “It has translated over. As I trained more I realized jumping is more beneficial for both explosiveness and power so was good to be able to do that throughout high school, I guess one day, it was actually our first division competition, it is called Bay of Quinte (May 14, 2014) . It’s our first divisional high school meet, so it’s people in our school district who compete against each other. There’s about twelve schools I would say, it’s all the schools in Belleville Ontario, and then there’s two or three north of that, and then there’s a few that are east of Belleville that are aalso part of it. I set new PR’s for myself in each of my events, long jump, triple jump, and javelin that day, it was an overall great day for me. The weather was perfect, I felt really good that day, and things just went my way!”