The NHL has enlisted four women officials to participate in the league’s upcoming rookie tournaments.
The league announced Friday that referees Katie Guay and Kelly Cooke, as well as linesmen Kirsten Welsh and Kendall Hanley, who took part in the NHL’s 2019 Exposure Combine, will take the ice at events in Irvine, Calif., Buffalo, Nashville and Traverse City, Mich.
The Exposure Combine, which took place in Buffalo last month, is used by the NHL to find prospective officials and is often a stepping stone as many look to gain employment at various levels of hockey across North America.
The NHL has never had a female official. But Welsh, 22, who didn’t have previous officiating experience but played Division I hockey at Robert Morris University, wants to change that.
“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,” Welsh — who will work the Buffalo Sabres Prospect Challenge, which runs Friday to Monday — told NHL.com.
In contrast, Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer broke the gender barrier 22 years ago, becoming the first woman to officiate in a major professional U.S. league. The NFL enlisted Sarah Thomas as its only full-time female official in 2015.