BUFFALO — The NHL will feature female officials this season for the first time ever in their rookie tournaments.
While the league hasn’t yet committed to any officials for the 2019 – 2020 season, 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.
And as you can see from the profiles of the four female officials, courtesy of NHL.com, the women are legitimate:
Guay has officiated for 14 years, including at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. The 37-year-old officiates men’s and women’s NCAA Division I hockey, was part of the first all-female officiating crew at the 2019 Women’s Frozen Four and was the first woman to officiate the men’s Beanpot Championship in 2019. She played Division I hockey for Brown University from 2001-05 and has competed for USA Hockey’s National Under-22 Team.
Cooke is a licensed referee for the IIHF and NCAA (Division I) and has officiated for 10 years. She was also part of first all-female officiating crew at the 2019 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four. The 29-year-old played Division I hockey for Princeton from 2009-13. She was a four-year ECAC All-Academic Team selection, was selected as Princeton’s captain and named team MVP in 2012-13.
For Welsh, the Exposure Combine was her first introduction to officiating. She played Division I hockey for Robert Morris University from 2015-19 and was captain during her senior season. The 22-year-old was a two-time All-College Hockey America First-Team selection and CHA Defender of the Year in 2017-18. She helped Robert Morris win three regular-season CHA titles.
Hanley is entering her 12th season of officiating and is a licensed linesman with the IIHF, NCAA women’s hockey (Divisions I and III) and the National Women’s Hockey League. She is also entering her fourth season as a linesman in USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program, where she has officiated in the USHL, NAHL and NA3HL junior hockey leagues. The 35-year-old played Division III varsity hockey for Elmira College from 2005-07 and SUNY Oswego from 2007-09 while completing her Bachelor of Science in zoology.
The four have been selected to officiate rookie tournaments in Irvine, California; Buffalo; Nashville and Traverse City, Michigan. A total of 30 officials from the combine were selected to work the rookie tournaments.
This is the sixth year Exposure Combine participants have been officiating at the rookie tournaments, and 85 percent of the officials at the five rookie tournaments have attended an NHL Exposure Combine.
The fast-paced environment at the rookie tournaments has proved to be a valuable step in developing the next generation of officials as well as accelerating the transition to a high level of officiating of a few elite hockey players.