Part of an exciting chapter in the unfolding history of womens ice hockey, Madison Woo takes a great sense of pride in donning the jersey of the Kunlun Red Star. One of two professional womens ice hockey teams in China, along with their expansion cousins, the Vanke Rays, competing in the CWHL during their inaugural season, Woo brings a solid hockey background.
Raised in Plymouth, Minnesota, Woo first starred at Maple Grove Senior High, highlighted by two seasons as team captain along with a pair of nods to the Northwestern Suburban Conference All-Star Team. Also a member of the MOHCA All-State Academic Team, the assiduous Woo also enjoyed the privilege of the National Honor Roll Society.
Making the jump to the NCAA level, where she competed with the Ivy League’s Brown Bears, the combination of a strong work ethic and character established her as a leader for the program. Amassing a respectable 34 points over the course of three full seasons (her fourth was cut short due to an injury), Woo was the Bears leading scorer for the 2015-16 campaign. Appearing in all of her teams games between 2013 and 2016, Woo displayed a remarkable toughness as one of the teams leading shot blockers, highlighted by an astounding 39 blocks in 2014-15.
Graduating in 2017, part of a senior class that included the likes of Erin Conway and Catherine LeBoeuf, Woos time with the program involved a unique influence. Although Woo had not yet enjoyed the opportunity to call her a head coach, Digit Murphy’s legacy at Brown is without compare.
In addition to reaching the pinnacle of 300 career wins, Murphy was also the first female hockey coach to be inducted into Brown’s Wall of Fame. Among the world-class players that benefitted from her tutelage included Winter Games gold medalists such as Becky Kellar, Katie King and Tara Mounsey, along with Ali Brewer, the first-ever goaltender to win the Patty Kazmaier Award.
With Murphy serving as the first-ever head coach in Red Star history, it has allowed Woo the chance to bring her Bears career full circle. Becoming the first Bears alum to play for Murphy with the Red Star, it has represented a cherished occasion to bridge generations, enriching the experience of being part of the first professional women’s ice hockey team in China.
Such an experience also resulted in both returning to Meehan Auditorium on Friday, October 13, 2017, as the Bears hosted the Red Star in an emotional exhibition game. Murphy’s Red Star would emerge victorious on this night, besting the Bears in a convincing 8-0 tally. As a side note, the Vanke Rays, the Red Star’s expansion cousins, were defeated 5-1 by the Cornell Big Red, one of the Bears’ rivals in the Ivy League.
“Although I never played for Coach Digit while she was at Brown, we both share a common understanding for the others background and what brings us together presently. While at Brown, Coach Digit led the team to multiple league playoffs and advocated for women’s sports, leaving a legacy that I became familiar with as an incoming freshman.
With the incredible opportunity KRS has given us to grow the sport globally while also developing the Chinese National Team, it’s only fitting to have Coach Digit lead the Red Stars, a team and opportunity I am truly proud to be apart of.”
Along with Canada’s Melanie Jue and Jessica Wong, Woo is part of an inspiring group of talented players with Asian heritage that honed their craft in North America. Becoming fast friends; the blossoming mutual respect is evident on and off the ice. Prior to the season opener, this tremendous triptych of heritage talent enjoyed the chance to participate in an offseason filled with many team building experiences, highlighted by a visit to the Great Wall along with a notable preseason exhibition in Vancouver.
“Aside from visiting the Great Wall, we have had multiple other team outings and dinners throughout China and North America that have been unforgettable. It could be something as simple as having the Chinese players take us out to their favorite hot pot restaurant in Shenzhen, to mountain climbing in Vancouver – regardless the activity, it always ends up being time well spent together.
Being that we are a team based out of China but playing in a Canadian league, travel is unavoidable and seemingly constant. Although spending hours at airports and on long bus rides is not ideal, it has served as another way for us to team build off ice and spend time together. Some will play cards or watch movies, while others may try and pick up on some Chinese or English.”
Making her debut on October 21, 2017 against the Markham Thunder, Woo would have to wait until her sixth career game to record her first point as a member of the Red Star. En route to the vaunted milestone, she would also enjoy the opportunity to contribute towards the first win in franchise history.
Taking on the Calgary Inferno in a weekend road series from October 28-29, the opening game provided a highly dramatic outcome, as the contest was resolved in overtime, with Annina Rajahuta recording the first game winning goal in franchise history.
“Since the game-winning goal was scored in the remaining seconds of overtime, it was definitely an exciting win for the team. It was a culmination of all the hard work put in during preseason as well as a united vision for KRS that made the win all the more rewarding.”
A November 12 tilt with the Canadiennes de Montreal resulted in a triptych of milestones for Woo. Scoring at the 7:53 mark of the first period, Woo trimmed Montreals lead to just one goal, recording her first goal in CWHL play. As a side note, Jessica Wong would gain the assist on this landmark goal, the first of two on the evening for the former first overall pick. With Kelli Stack scoring what proved to be the games final goal in the third period, Woo and Zoe Hickel would gain the assists, another first for Woo.
Emerging with the first multi-point game in her CWHL career, it was a monumental milestone that heralded Woo’s emergence as a key contributor to the Red Star offense, poised for even greater moments in her first season of professional hockey. Undoubtedly, the chance to play with Winter Games heroes like Noora Raty and Kelli Stack has already yielded remarkable dividends, sharpening her leadership skills, while motivating her to be an even better player,
“It is not only a privilege to be able to play alongside Noora and Kelli, but also an incredible learning opportunity to be able to compete with them in practice and skate alongside them in games. As Olympians, they have made it to what most athletes would consider the peak level of competition, so they have most certainly been incredible ambassadors for demonstrating skill and grit when it comes to hockey, while also being just good people off ice.”
Two days later, Woo would log another goal in the last of a three-game series with Montreal. Recording the Red Stars second power play goal of the first period, as Shiann Darkangelo, a former member of the US national womens team gained the assist, it was part of a solid effort which saw the visiting Red Star obtain a 6-3 victory. In a series that was filled with numerous milestones, Woo was not the only player to record her first CWHL goal. The third game also saw Stephanie Anderson, who competed at Bemidji State University, score her first in Red Star colors, while Taylor Marchin recorded an assist on Kelli Stacks seventh goal of the season, a career first for the Yale graduate.
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated