American Hockey League to have 10 female officials this year

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Ten female officials will compete in American Hockey League games this season, the highest level women have reached in this position in professional hockey.

Katie Guay will become the first woman to officiate a game in the AHL on Saturday. Guay, fellow umpires Kelly Cooke, Jacqueline Zee Howard, Laura White, Samantha Hiller, Elizabeth Mantha and Amanda Tasson and linesmen Kendall Hanley, Kirsten Welsh and Alexandra Clarke are among the 17 new AHL officials this season.

“It’s been on our radar for quite some time now,” AHL President and CEO Scott Howson told The Associated Press by telephone Monday. “They have a good experience. Whether it was the Olympics, college hockey – both for men and women – they’ve competed in NHL hopeful tournaments. Now is the time for them to take professional hockey to the next level.

Numerous women have participated in officiating combinations managed by the NHL and the AHL over the past few years. Guay, Cooke, Welsh and Hanley were also selected to compete in the NHL Prospects tournaments in 2019.

Last year, the 10 female umpires participated in a mentoring program run by the NHL and the NHL Officials Association, which supplemented the on-ice and off-ice training many received from combines.

Working in the AHL is another step towards the possibility of female officials in the NHL, just as the NFL and NBA have already done.

“This is a huge step, all of these women are getting into professional hockey,” said NHL director of officials Stephen Walkom. “They have all earned it and should be recognized for it.”

The NHL and AHL have worked closely together to develop a pipeline of officials, men and women, to move up the professional ranks. Another place where NHL Director of Recruitment and Development Al Kimmel unearthed talent for the officiating team was the Women’s World Championship.

These scouts are now moving to the AHL rinks this season.

“Everyone who works in the American Hockey League is a hope on the officials side because our scouting and development team is there and we can see them to see how they handle professional hockey, what they call the game, can they keep pace with professional hockey because it’s the second best league in the world, ”Walkom said. “From our side, we want to support them in this next step, and, of course, we hope that one day we will have men and women to conquer the American Hockey League so that we have a large number of officials to play. take turns for the NHL. . “

Howson pointed out that Kim Ng has become the first female general manager of Major League Baseball and advancements in hockey scouting and development, and hopes the AHL adding female officials shows just how much opportunity there is for women. thrive in sport.

“It opens doors,” Howson said. “We all play at the highest level possible, and sometimes we just aren’t able to move as far as we want, and that’s another way of taking a different path and reaching a different level, a higher level. “

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Follow AP Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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