Referee Elizabeth Mantha is making her AHL debut on Friday night in Quebec.
She’ll be taking the ice as the Rochester Americans visit the Laval Rocket alongside referee Cody Beach and linesmen Nicolas Boivin and Maxime Bedard.
“It’s going to be a big step,” Mantha said. “It’s going to be fast.”
The 31-year-old has been officiating since 2011, recently having worked the IIHF Women’s World Championship.
She knows one person who can relate to making her professional debut: her brother, Anthony, a winger with the Washington Capitals.
“We’re under the same kind of pressure,” Mantha told The Athletic. “We know how it’s hard, the pressure that comes with it. So we just encourage each other.”
Mantha, who also officiates Junior AAA, is up for the challenge.
“What I’m expecting is just maybe a period to adjust, and then afterwards, I’m going to be fine,” added Mantha. “I saw the other girls in their games and that’s what they told me — it’s kind of quick but you adapt fast and then you’re fine for the rest of the game.”
She also knows how to acclimate herself to the players and coaches.
“You have to earn their respect, but it’s the same thing for men or women,” she said. “It’s not different. You can’t take it personally.”
“I’m very happy, but it’s a bit unexpected, said Mantha. “[AHL officials] tell us that they believe in us, that they know that we can do the job, that we deserve our place and that we don’t have to feel like impostors. We just have to trust each other and do our job.”
Mantha is one of ten women – seven referees and three linespersons – officiating in the American Hockey League this season.
Read more on Mantha’s debut from Tarik El-Bashir in The Athletic.