Women officials are working NHL’s four prospects tournaments
Linesman Kendall Hanley gets ready to drop the puck during a game between the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild at Traverse City’s Centre Ice Arena during the NHL Prospects Tournament.
Kendall Hanley is one of the linesmen who worked the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City hosted by the Red Wings this past weekend.
And she was not alone. Three other female officials assigned by the NHL worked the league’s other prospects tournaments.
Referee Katie Guay is officiating in the Rookie Faceoff in Irvine, Calif., from Saturday through Tuesday; referee Kelly Cooke is working at the Nashville Prospects Showcase, which runs from Saturday to Tuesday, and linesman Kirsten Welch is calling the lines at the Buffalo Sabres Prospect Challenge, Friday through Monday.
All four women participated in the 2019 NHL Exposure Combine in Buffalo the last weekend in August. It can best be described as a scouting combine for prospective officials. Thirty officials from the combine were selected to work the rookie tournaments.
"The opportunity to officiate at an NHL Rookie tournament is an important step in the development of the next generation of elite officials,” NHL senior vice president and director of officiating Stephen Walkom told NHL.com. “And we look forward to watching all four women elevate their performance in this new competitive environment."
Hanley, 35, is entering her 12th season of officiating and is a licensed linesman with the International Ice Hockey Federation, 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 junior circuits the United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League and the North America 3 Hockey League.
"My passion and love for the game started at a young age and after college I was not quite ready to hang up my skates," said Hanley, who 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. "I met some amazing people in Texas who were very involved in officiating who supported and mentored me early on.
“Officiating provides a team environment, great camaraderie and competition and helps me give back and support the game I love."
Guay, 37, who played Division I hockey at Brown from 2001-05 and on the U.S. National Under-22 Team, has officiated for 14 years, including at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
She also 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.
Cooke, 29, 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. Sheplayed Division I hockey for Princeton from 2009-13, was a four-year ECAC All-Academic Team selection, was Princeton's captain and was team MVP in 2012-13.
Welch’s introduction to officiating came at the Exposure Combine. The 22-year-old played Division I hockey for Robert Morris University from 2015-19 and was captain during her senior season. She was a two-time All-College Hockey America First-Team selection and CHA Defender of the Year in 2017-18.
"I love the game and want to use my experience and knowledge to be one of the first females to officiate in the NHL, to open up the path for the future of females officiating," she said.