Great Britain Women’s netminder Ella Howard has secured an international scholarship at the University of Calgary. The teenager is the first British goalie to enter university sport and her scholarship will begin in autumn next year.

During her time in Canada, Howard will ice for the Calgary Dinos who are led by two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time world Champion Danielle Goyette.

Despite only being 17, Howard has already iced 12 times for GB Under-18s since making her debut in 2018. Her standout junior tournament came in the U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Group B on home ice in Dumfries.

Howard posted a save percentage of 95.7% and conceded on average only 1.37 goals per game. A 48-shot shutout against top seeds Norway was the highlight, where she led GB to a 1-0 penalty-shot win after the game had ended scoreless.

The Milton Keynes-born netminder had been named in the GB Women’s squad for last season’s World Championship Division II Group A tournament in Spain, before it’s cancellation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Howard said: “I feel truly honoured and excited to have this opportunity to combine academics and athletics at the university level. It has always been a dream of mine and I am most grateful for all of the coaches, staff, teachers and, of course, my mother who have supported me through the years and helped me to achieve this goal.

“It is an excellent university in a beautiful location, which also happens to be where my childhood idol Miikka Kiprusoff played. I am excited to work with other student athletes who share my passion for education and sports, as well as the top-calibre coaching staff.

“It has been a challenging year for everybody but I have enjoyed getting creative with ways to develop off of the ice. It has also been a great opportunity to focus on academics and I am thankful that the pandemic did not prevent me from attaining my goal.

“My experiences playing in the UK with GB – and in the PWHL – have been amazing. I am excited to see where my time with the Dinos will take me.”

Howard began her domestic career in the UK, playing for Bracknell, Slough, Chelmsford, Haringey, before icing in the women’s top flight for Solihull. Last season, she moved to North America and iced for Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) side Bluewater Hawks.

Ice Hockey UK general secretary, Andy French, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Ella and on behalf of IHUK and GB Women I’d like to wish her every success.

“She is one of the most talented netminders we have ever seen in the Great Britain programme and her achievements already since first putting on the GB shirt speak for itself. We are very proud of her and wish her the best of luck over the coming years.”