Women are continuing to break barriers within the NHL as four female officials have been approved to work upcoming NHL prospect showcases for the first time ever.
Referees Katie Guay and Kelly Cooke, plus linesmen Kirsten Welsh and Kendall Hanley, have been selected to officiate in the 2019 NHL Exposure Combine.
"The opportunity to officiate at an NHL Rookie tournament is an important step in the development of the next generation of elite officials and we look forward to watching all four women elevate their performance in this new competitive environment," NHL senior vice president and director of officiating Stephen Walkom said via NHL.com.
Guay’s 14-year resume as a referee includes the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, as well as both men’s and women’s NCAA Division I hockey. Cooke has a 10-year background working with the IIHF and NCAA Division I, while Hanley is entering her 12th season with the IIHF, NCAA women's hockey Divisions I and III, and the National Women's Hockey League. Welsh is beginning her officiating career after completing her NCAA Division I playing career this past season.
"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," said Welsh.
This news adds to a growing female presence within the NHL, with recent news of the addition of gold medalist Kendall Coyne landing a colour analyst role with the San Jose Sharks for select broadcasts during the 2019-20 season.
The Sharks have also announced an Alumni game that will feature some professional women’s players during their Fan Fest on September 22nd. This could be the perfect opportunity for some of these female referees to gain exposure and hone their skills.
A game between @SharksAlumni and the @PWHPA? Yes please.— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) September 5, 2019
It's two teams' worth of legends - including our newest broadcaster! - facing off at #SJSharksFest presented by #BayAreaBMW! Get your tickets now: https://t.co/YQToP5DwJg pic.twitter.com/XVRGhf9EEB
More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports