PWHPA, NHL’s Penguins to sponsor USA/CAN rematch in Pittsburgh this weekend — Madison Packer chats LGBTQ+ Pride Night — Must-click women’s hockey links

The IX: Hockey Friday with Anne Tokarski, March 11, 2022

Welcome back to Hockey Friday. Buckle your seatbelts, because this weekend is going to be a ride.

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With the NCAA postseason having started yesterday, the PHF gearing up for the playoffs, and the PWHPA set to host the rematch of the decade when the United States and Canada meet for the first time after the Olympic gold medal game in mid-February…the weekend ahead is going to be intense no matter who you’re supporting or where you’re directing your attention.

Today, I’m going to give you the rundown on the PWHPA-sponsored match-up between the United States and Canada in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Announced at the beginning of March, this event is being framed as “the best of women’s hockey coming to Pittsburgh”…which isn’t technically incorrect, considering everyone competing at the game is a medal-winning Olympian. The so-called “Rivalry Rematch” will feature a number of PWHPA players who also double as competitors for their respective national teams, including Hilary Knight, Lee Stecklein, Kendall Coyne-Schofield, Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Nurse, and more.

“The [NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins] are honored to support the Canadian and USA women’s hockey all stars returning from Beijing and host the Rivalry Rematch at PPG Paints Arena,” said Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse in the release provided by the PWHPA.  “Growing the sport of ice hockey at all levels has been at the foundation of our franchise over the past 15 years.  There is no doubt these women athletes have influenced and advanced the sport of hockey for girls, not only in Pittsburgh, but across North America.  We are thrilled to host some of the best players in the world in front of our fans.”

In a Tweet posted to the Penguins’ Twitter account on March 9, President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke added, “People say they support women’s hockey, but they don’t enough. They’ve got to go to the game. You’ve got a chance to go out and support the US and Canadian women. They deserve it. I’ll be there for sure. I can’t wait.”

Burke’s refrain is one often echoed by fans and trolls alike on the Internet — the question of, “Well, if you really support women’s hockey, how many games have you actually been to?”

The fact of the matter is that it’s often not that simple. While, for example, I would love to head to Pittsburgh for a single game to support some of my favorite women’s hockey players, for those outside the area, it might not be feasible. That’s why the weekend double-header models of the PWHPA, PHF, and even NCAA have been so successful in the past: because they present the opportunity of more than a single game, and give fans the chance to invest in a team’s performance over the course of a weekend rather than just through one game.

But my bone to pick is not with Burke or the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I think what the Penguins are doing is exceptional, and exactly what we need to see more of in women’s hockey: financial support and marketing. The Penguins have nearly 2 million followers on Twitter (compared to the PWHPA’s approximate 23,000 and the PHF’s 65,000) and have been consistently advertising the game they’re hosting. That means a lot, especially when their audience is interested in hockey.

Team USA’s Knight shared her own thoughts on the rematch in a piece posted to “To have that visibility now in a big arena with fans that are extremely ecstatic about having us there with an organization and club that’s equally as ecstatic about having us there – very, very exciting things all around, and I can’t wait for the puck to drop.”

The game is available to stream on NHL Network (USA) and Sportsnet (CAN), and the puck drops at 4 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 12.

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This Week in Women’s Hockey

Toronto breaks through in PWHPA Washington Showcase (The Ice Garden)

Toronto Six acquired for ‘up to USD$5m.’ by BIPOC-led investor group (SportsPro Media)

2022 Women’s Hockey Goaltender of the Year Award finalists named (USHCO)

Angela James speaks out about state of professional women’s hockey (The Hockey News)

NCAA conference playoffs recap (The Ice Garden)

Five at the IX: Madison Packer

To follow up on last week’s newsletter where we discussed the Metropolitan Riveters’ Pride celebration, The IX sat down with team captain Madison Packer to chat about her message to LGBTQ+ youth.

Question: This past weekend wasn’t the Riveters’ first Pride celebration, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. What do these kinds of nights mean to you as a player and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?

Madison Packer: Pride Night is so important both for players and fans because it celebrates and welcomes a community that has often been excluded and marginalized in the world of sport. Pride celebration allows members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies to share their stories, acknowledge the progress we have made in the fight for equality, and create a safe environment for all sports fans to be who they are without judgment.

Q: Wearing a Riveters jersey is undoubtedly always an honor, but what does it mean to wear a specialty Pride jersey?

Packer: It’s special anytime we wear jerseys that bring awareness to various causes and communities. I think this year’s Pride jerseys were different, they were very well done, and really highlighted the colors and inclusion that are so representative of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community.

Q: While the events were separate, the Riveters’ Black History month and Black Rosie celebration were held on the same weekend as the team’s Pride celebration. What does intersectionality mean to you, and how do you think your organization can amplify the voices of racialized LGBTQ+ fans, players, and staff?

Packer: I think inclusion and representation in all forms are of utmost importance. I am proud to be part of a Riveters team that has made it a priority to make our sport better for everyone and lead by example for other teams wanting to do the same. I think one thing as an organization we do an exceptional job of is paying attention to what’s going on, what’s being said, educating ourselves, and then putting all of that effort into action and doing things the right way. That’s how you end up with Black Rosie and other powerful initiatives that resonate with society.

Q: What sets the PHF’s Pride celebrations apart from Pride Nights in other professional sports — nights like “Hockey is for Everyone” in men’s professional hockey, etc. — and what makes them so impactful?

Packer: You’re able to see the real impact of these events in moments when you aren’t necessarily expecting it. It shows up when you watch a youth game and you see Pride tape on a stick, or meet a fan who tells you how much it meant to them that we have this night on our schedule. I think every sport is getting there differently and in varying windows of time, and what the.NHL has done is a huge step in the right direction. The more welcoming and understanding we can be of all people’s journeys and processes, the more participation we will see in celebrations like Pride, Black History Month, and others.

Q: With the recent anti-trans legislation passed in multiple states, what message do you want to send to young LGBTQ+ or questioning youth?

Packer: To any member of the LGBTQ+ community who is scared, confused, and feels like they are experiencing all of those emotions alone, it’s going to be okay. It’s not going to be easy, but it is going to be okay. People fear what they do not understand, and they are intimidated by those who are brave enough to be who they are. Keep living your truth, keep walking with your with your head high, and keep loving yourself. Hate has never won, and as a community, we will get through the uncertainties together. It takes an insurmountable amount of courage to be who you are when the world wants you to be someone else. The people with that courage are the ones who change the world. Keep changing it for the better.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Anne Tokarski