Referee Katie Guay made history when she dropped the puck on Saturday night.

Guay became the first woman to referee a game in the American Hockey League. She took the ice alongside referee Brandon Schrader and linesmen J.P. Waleski and Patrick Dapuzzo as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms took on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Guay and Schrader called 42 minutes in penalties – 25 on the Phantoms and 17 on the Penguins.  Two players accounted for 26 of those minutes, with Jamie Devane and Brennan Saulnier dropping the gloves with 3:10 remaining in the first; Saulnier was also given a minor and misconduct for instigating.

“My one goal had always been the Olympics so I thought I had already reached the pinnacle for my officiating, but then this new opportunity opened up to continue the journey,” Guay said prior to the game. “It’s an adrenaline rush being out on the ice skating as an official, just like it is for a player. It takes time to build your credibility within a new league and to earn the respect of the players and coaches as you get more games under your belt.”

Retired NHL referee Paul Stewart: was certainly watching Guay’s debut.

Another person who I will be watching with great interest this Saturday night is a young lady who will become the first woman to referee in the AHL. Frankly, she’s good enough already to be in her fourth or fifth pro season, but changing minds and hearts takes time.

Katie Guay, who has worked for me in the ISL Prep Hockey, The Chowder Cups, The ECAC Women and what I am most proud of was my decision to choose Katie to break the glass ceiling for reffing in a Men’s D 1 College Hockey game. Sacred Heart at Union was her first game. Needless to say, she did herself proud.

Later, I assigned Katie to more men’s Hockey games including Princeton @ Harvard. I knew we had a good one when a former Harvard Coach, AD, Harvard legendary player and a gold medal winner on the 1960 Olympic team came up to me after the second period to crow about that referee, “with the pony tail.”

Bill Cleary actually gushed with praise for this first woman to ref a men’s game at The Bright Center a few winters ago.

I knew then that my ability to judge talent, coach talent to be better at the job and to display confidence in assigning a woman to a men’s game was justified.

Later on, Katie worked Harvard vs Boston College at The Beanpot at The TD Garden. That’s the Men’s Beanpot, by the way. Coach Gerry York congratulated me on assigning Katie stating that she can really skate and communicated very well. “Where did you find her?”

As well, she worked UNH vs Cornell at Madison Square Garden. There was some reluctance in this assignment until one coach, after the game, nodded to me that even he was impressed.

These were all “Firsts” but to me they were assignments that were correct as the talent was there, the skating ability was there, the conditioning was there and my confidence in Katie was always there. I judge talent and didn’t worry about X or Y chromosomes. When the ref sticks the arm in the air and blows the whistle, It’s either a good call or not.

I asked her once, “What is your goal as a referee?”

“I want to work The Frozen Four for The NCAA Women’s Championships. I want to work in the Women’s Olympics,” she said.

As you might guess, mission accomplished on both counts.

In case you missed it, It was both the Women’s Games that she expressed as her goals. She never abandoned her role as a referee for Women’s Hockey even as she proved she could step into the challenges of working the Men’s game too.

Guay is one of ten women hired as officials in the American Hockey League this season.  Up next: Kelly Cooke, who will work her first game tomorrow in Utica.

Congratulations to referee Katie Guay on making her AHL debut!