For the first time in NHL history, there will be female referees at NHL preseason prospect tournaments across the United States (Irvine, California; Buffalo; Nashville and Traverse City, Michigan). Thirty of the nearly one-hundred participants in the NHL’s “Exposure Combine,” which helps train new referees and spot talent to work in the NHL, WHL, CHL, and other leagues, were invited to work the tourneys total.
Four of those thirty invitees are women: Kelly Cook, Katie Guay, Kendall Hanley, and Kirsten Welsh.
Referees Katie Guay & Kelly Cooke and linesmen Kirsten Welsh & Kendall Hanley, four of the 96 officials who participated in the 2019 NHL Exposure Combine, have been selected to officiate in 2019 rookie tournaments. https://t.co/So7ab20tUC
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 6, 2019
Guay, who was the only female referee in men’s Division I hockey in 2018-19 and refereed women’s hockey at the Pyeongchang Olympics, has been an advocate for more outreach and training for women refs. “You need to prepare them and I’m not sure [referee] assigners at lower levels are opening doors and opportunities,” she said in an interview with the CBC.
The only woman to referee professional hockey games was Heather McDaniel, who refereed for the CHL and WCHL from 1995-99.
In 2018 four women participated in the Exposure Combine, but none were invited to referee the rookie games. Last year, despite being invited to the Exposure Combine, opportunities to referee at the NHL level were not available to women. It’s unknown whether that has changed for the 2019-20 season or will in the future.
Headline image: NHL
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