Meet PWHL No. 1 pick Sarah Fillier, New York’s new women’s hockey star

Make room, Ionescu. Skate to the side, Lafreniere.

There’s a new No. 1 pick in town.

Sarah Fillier, a prolific scorer at Princeton and world champion on the international stage, was selected by New York with the top overall pick in the Professional Women’s Hockey League draft Monday night. 

Sarah Fillier shakes hands with Billie Jean King after being drafted No. 1. AP

Fillier called it “a dream come true” after hearing her name called by Billie Jean King on the draft stage in Minneapolis.

“It feels like I’m coming home,” Fillier said. “I built so many relationships and met some really great people at Princeton, so just being like an hour down the road is really special. I think New York’s such an iconic sports city, so to officially [be] part of a franchise belonging to that city is exciting.”

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for the 24-year-old Fillier, who recently handed in her senior thesis and finished her final exams at Princeton, where she scored 93 goals in 120 college games. 

It took her six years to graduate, but she has a good excuse: The Toronto-area native took off two years ahead of the 2022 Olympics, where she won gold with Team Canada. Fillier was named MVP at the 2023 world championships. 

“I think I also learned how to adapt to different leagues when I took two years off to go to the Olympics,” Fillier said. “I have a bit of experience of coming back and adjusting to leagues. So, I think that’s really going to help me next year.

“The game internationally is physical and fast,” she added, “and I think that’s exactly what the pro league is going to give.”

Sarah Filler skates for Team Canada in April 2024. Daniel DeLoach/Utica Observer-Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

PWHL completed its landmark inaugural season last month, setting a number of women’s hockey attendance records and crowning Minnesota as the first Walter Cup champions.

“I think I watched every single game this season,” Fillier said. “I was so excited for the girls to finally live this dream out.” 

New York earned the No. 1 draft pick after finishing in last place, notching just nine wins and 26 points in 24 games while shuttling among several different home rinks, including Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., and UBS Arena on Long Island.

PWHL New York ranked next-to-last in the league with 53 goals scored. The team was led by star center Alex Carpenter’s eight goals and 15 assists, but is in need of more firepower.

Sarah Fillier was the No. 1 pick in Monday’s draft. AP

Fillier, a natural center who added versatility by playing left wing in her final months with the Tigers, believes she can add it.

“I want to provide offensively and bring some creativity up front and be able to score consistently for them,” Fillier said.

Greg Fargo, formerly of Colgate University, was named last week as New York’s head coach, replacing Howie Draper. 

“If you look at the talent New York has, I think they’ve built a really solid foundation,” Fillier said. “It’s a tough league. I think you can go into any game and you never know if you’re gonna win or lose, but I’m excited to help build that solid foundation.

“And Greg Fargo has been a tremendous coach. I’ve played against him for four years in the ECAC [Princeton’s conference], and he’s always a tough coach to play against. So it’s exciting that I’m on his team now.”

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