Note: I want to extend a warm welcome to guest writer Rebecca Moloney as she discusses the impact Olympic athletes have made on girls hockey in Washington. Keep an eye out for her follow-up article covering adult hockey in the region and how you can get involved. - Doug Mellon
As the U.S./Canada Women’s Hockey rivalry heats up at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, professional hockey players are helping grow the game for girls in Seattle.
On Tuesday, February 14th at 7:10 pm PST (Seattle time), the United States women’s national team (USWNT) will face off against the Canadian National women’s ice hockey team in a rivalry game with both teams gunning for the gold medal. The Canadians have won the last four Olympic Gold Medals, but they face tough competition in Korea. The U.S. has won every World Championship since the 2014 Olympics and are aiming to knock Canada off their golden throne.
Fun fact: Before heading out to compete in PyeongChang for Olympic Gold, USWNT star player Hilary Knight smoked Sidney Crosby’s time in the NHL All-Star Accuracy Challenge.
While the USWNT and the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team are rivals on the ice, the players work together to help grow the game for girls of both countries. In the last few years, hockey Olympians and professional players have made stops in Seattle to meet and skate with the girls who play hockey here.
In 2016, John Barr of NHL to Seattle hosted an event meetup where local girls skated with NWHL All-Star forward Lexi Bender and Canadian National team forward Natalie Spooner. Spooner will compete in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics this month.
The Washington Wild Female Hockey Association (WWFHA) also have ties to professional women’s hockey. Since 2015, the WWFHA has a partnered with the NWHL Metropolitan Riveters with Michelle Picard acting as a board member for the organization. The NWHL All-Star defender is an Olympian who won the silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She’s also a three-time gold medalist at the World Championships of Hockey. Picard acts as a “big sister” to the WWFHA.
“We are thrilled to have Olympians Michelle Picard and Lyndsey Fry on WWFHA’s Honorary Board as they advise the association in all things hockey,” said Zoe Harris, Executive Director of Operations. “More importantly, they are amazing role models and mentors to our players, both when they are on the ice with them, or from across the country.”
In 2015, Olympian Lyndsey Fry also skated with the WWFHA and brought her 2014 Olympic Silver medal to show the young players. The Wild have an Olympian on staff as well, 2002 Swedish bronze medalist Josefin Pettersson Shakya acts as a physical therapist and part-time coach for the organization.
Josefin Shakya, a Swedish ice hockey Olympic Bronze Medalist & WWFHA's pro-staff in PT spoke about postural restoration & how asymmetry & muscle imbalances lead to injury; how to test for alignment and exercises they can do for warm up to prevent injury & improve performance. pic.twitter.com/2aBA4nsM7O— Washington Wild (@WWFHA) November 10, 2017
Together, these Olympic champions help local organizations mentor youth hockey players in the Seattle area. With their help, we may someday watch as a future women’s hockey star from the PNW fights for Olympic gold.
Olympic Preliminary Rounds
U.S. vs. Finland (Sunday, Feb 11 11:40 p.m PST)
U.S. vs. Olympic Athletes from Russia (Tuesday, Feb 13 4:10 a.m. PST)
U.S. vs. Canada (Thurs. Feb 14 7:10 p.m. PST )