The NHL’s All-Star festivities in St. Louis will include a 3-on-3 women’s hockey exhibition, complete with four of the top women in stripes.
The Elite Women’s 3-on-3 will showcase the top North American players, with the American All-Stars taking on the Canadian All-Stars. Each roster will consist of nine skaters and one goaltender for the 20-minute contest. The players on both teams have a combined 39 Olympic medals and 108 World Championship medals.
Referees Kelly Cooke and Katie Guay will officiate the game alongside linesmen Kendall Hanley and Kirsten Welsh. All four attended the NHL Exposure Combine prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, which provides a preseason camp for high-potential officials. The league has used the camp to identify candidates to become NHL officials. Each of them also officiated 2019 NHL rookie tournaments after the combine.
Referee Katie Guay has worn the stripes for 14 years, handling officiating duties at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, along with both men’s and women’s NCAA Division I hockey. She was the first woman to officiate the men’s Beanpot Championship in 2019 and was part of the first all-female officiating crew at the 2019 Women’s Frozen Four, alongside her All-Star crew-mate Kelly Cooke.
“When my playing days came to an end, I missed being at the rink and officiating was a great way to stay on the ice and be back in the game,” said Guay, who refereed the Rookie Faceoff in Irvine, California.
Referee Kelly Cooke, who won an Isobel Cup with the Boston Pride in the NWHL’s inaugural season, is currently an official in the league, as well as in her fourth season as NWHL Director of the Player Safety Committee.
“Officiating was the perfect way to both keep skating at a high level and challenge myself in a completely new way,” Cooke said.
Cooke officiated three games of the Nashville Predators’ Prospect Showcase in September, which also included the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals.
“The players treated me just like they would treat any of the other refs, which to me is a sign of respect: I don’t want them to treat me any differently because I’m a female,” Cooke said of her prospect tournament experience. “I met the GMs of the [Nashville] Predators and the [Washington] Capitals, and they were interested to hear about my past and how I got there. And they were very positive about seeing a woman on ice.”
Linesman Kendall Hanley is in her 12th season as an official, having taken the ice for the IIHF, NCAA (Division I and III), and NWHL. She’s also spent three years as a linesman in USA Hockey’s Officiating Development Program, working USHL, NAHL and NA3HL junior hockey games. Hanley handled linesman duties for the Traverse City NHL Prospect Camp, which included players from the Red Wings, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Stars, Wild, Rangers, Blues, and Maple Leafs. Internationally, she recently worked the IIHF’s Under-18 Women’s World Championship in Slovakia.
“Officiating provides a team environment, great comradery and competition and helps me give back and support the game I love,” Hanley said after taking part in the NHL’s Exposure Combine.
Linesman Kirsten Welsh wrapped up a college hockey career at Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University, which has somehow become an officiating factory. Alums Furman South and Brandon Blandina currently wear the bands in the National Hockey League and American Hockey League. She officiated the Buffalo Sabres Prospect Challenge.
“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,” said Welsh.
“I obviously have a long way to go,” she added after her prospect camp experience. “That would be unbelievable if I had that opportunity to ref in the NHL. That would literally be a dream come true.”
Cooke, Guay, and Hanley all officiate games in the NWHL, and all three have worked internationally with the IIHF.
“In my six years here, the growth and improvement of the on-ice and off-ice abilities match some of the men and surpass some of the men,” said NHL Officiating Manager Al Kimmel, after the summer combine. “We’ve got some high-calibre women officials here that have world-class experience that are going to show some of the boys some things out there.”
Coaches for the game are Hockey Hall of Famers Cammi Granato for the US and Jayna Hefford for Team Canada. Payers were selected by the NHL, with input from hockey legends Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Cammi Granato, Angela Ruggiero and Hayley Wickenheiser. All of the players participating are a part of their respective national team’s roster.
Congrats to Guay, Cooke, Hanley, and Welsh on their selections, and kudos to the NHL for including them and some of the top women’s hockey players in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game.