It took Kendall Coyne Schofield just over 14 seconds to change the game.
The two-time Olympic medallist with Team USA stepped in for the injured Nathan MacKinnon in the “Fastest Skater” event during the All-Star festivities Friday night, and in doing so she became the first woman to compete in an NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
“Just that line alone speaks volumes and gave me chills all down my back,” Coyne Schofield, who currently plays for the NWHL’s Minnesota Whitecaps, told Hockey Central at Noon Monday. “I knew it was going to be a big moment. But just to see the outpouring of support afterwards … it will change the way people perceive the game of hockey, and specifically women’s hockey.”
History was made, and the show was officially stolen.
“I got to the starting line and the crowd just erupted in San Jose, it was amazing. And then they start chanting U-S-A!,” said Coyne Schofield, who rounded the rink in 14.346 seconds Friday night. “I just had to stand up from my starting position and just, you know, take it all in and just smile because I was like, this is just one of the coolest moments of my life.”
Coyne Schofield’s hockey career began in figure skates, but it didn’t take her long to know she was skating on the wrong rink.
“I did start in figure skates. But I was in them for a week because my brother played and, 23 years ago, especially in the south part of Chicago, girls weren’t playing hockey. So my parents just put me in what all the other girls were doing,” she said. “But I just said, ‘I want to be like my brother. I want to do what he does. Why am I on this rink, and he’s on that rink?'”
One pair of hockey skates later, Coyne Schofield’s journey to the pros began — and was helped by some pretty well-known skating coaches along the way.
“Bob Arturo taught me how to skate as a tot. He’s currently in Pittsburgh now, teaching little kids how to skate,” she explained. “And then I did a lot of work with Kenny McCudden, who’s with the Columbus Blue Jackets now, when I got a little bit older. But I think what it came down to for me was growing up playing with the boys. There was no limits — When you’ve got a ponytail behind your back, you’ve got to keep up, and if you don’t you’re going to hear it. So it was more so, I was always trying to keep up with my brother and the guys I was playing with as a kid.”
Fast forward to Friday night, it was no surprise Coyne Schofield found quick success on NHL ice.
“With USA Hockey, we do speed testing and my coaches have told me over the years, ‘Your numbers are up there with the NHL players that we’ve tested,'” she said. “I had a feeling that I would do pretty well.”
Listen to the full interview here: