The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, April 19, 2019

A WoHo emotional roller coaster — Interview with NWHL to Seattle spokeswoman Kelly Stephens-Tysland - must-click women's hockey links

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Another week, another shock!

Let’s hang onto our hats this offseason folks! It feels like for the last several weeks, the collective WoHo community has had reason to come together and hold hands in solidarity. The conclusion to the IIHF Women’s Worlds kept the streak going.

We discussed last week the importance of focusing on all levels of women’s hockey development in order to have the most elite brand of hockey be best. Well, insert Finland! The hosts of the 2019 Worlds booted Canada out of the gold medal game for the first time EVER and took the United States to a SHOOTOUT.

Sidebar: I am not a person who hates the shootout. I think a shootout creates the kind of drama that 4v4 or even 3v3 just cannot (oh, we had some of that, too in the gold medal game).

In the end, the United States won in the shootout, goals from shootout Queen Amanda Kessel and Annie Pankowski. Now, in case you’ve been away, check the links below to learn of the drama of the gold medal game. I also have a few links with updated opinions and information on the evolution of #OneLeague to #NoLeague and even #TheRightLeague.

As I said folks, hold onto your hats! And, if you need a support circle, we got you here at The IX: Hockey Fridays [insert virtual hug].

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

I talked with Liz Knox & Anya Battaglino just before the conclusion of Worlds about the next steps for the CWHLPA and NWHLPA. While the two will work together, there are a few league-specific concerns each will discuss with their players.

Hilary Knight plans to play hockey next season. She and Liz Knox talked to John Wawrow about what happens between now and the fall season.

Jared Book on why Canada’s bronze was a long time coming.

I was really freaking out about the gold medal game, so naturally I went live with my reactions. Stick taps to the WoHo Tribe who helped me get through all my feelings.

Here is the IIHF Statement on the gold medal game. On the other side of my emotions, I’ve spoken to a few people and read/listened to several more opinions (S/O to The Victory Press Presscast). It felt terrible, but the IIHF worked with what they had and likely made the correct call.

If you want more on the ruling, this article quotes from both Alex Rigsby and Jenni Hiirikoski (the two involved in the play) are included. And then Finnish coach Pasi Mustonen laid into the officials for the tournament, saying “We need male referees. All the female referees that are mature enough to be here, naturally, they should be here, but there are so few in the world.” Hmmmm.

But wait, there is more! As in most every other women’s sports tournament (not tennis though, thanks Billie & Venus) prize money is more for men. Same is the case for the Finland women’s team who took the best two teams in the world to the brink and back-to-back at that!

But wait, THERE IS EVEN MORE! The Finnish Ice Hockey Federation will award bonuses at the 7,000 euro rate for gold, as opposed to the 5,000 euro rate for silver. BONUS: Check out the byline – Ailish Forfar

Great piece by Nathaniel Oliver – Players around women’s hockey offer up their funniest moments. My spin on Nate’s feel-good piece is, even when we laugh, we’re crying (locker room conditions, no heat for a week?!).

Hilary Knight has cemented her place in USA Hockey history at Worlds. She also has accepted her role in the what the future of women’s hockey will look like via this Red Bull spot.

Hungarian women’s hockey earns promotion to Group A after winning gold in Budapest.

Good read here from Hailey Salvian and Katie Strang on women’s hockey being at a crossroads.

NWHL to Seattle is a grassroots group aiming to … well, bring an NWHL team to Seattle! Here is a local news hit on the initiative. More from Kelly Stephens-Tysland in our Five at The IX segment.

If you missed the 2019 Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive, you can still head over to Be The Match® and join the registry.

Hilary Knight appears in this Q&A by Alex Prewitt

An interesting take on #OneLeague/#NoLeague/#TheRightLeague being part of the greater evolution of women’s hockey.

Not recent, but a piece I wrote after the North Dakota Women’s Hockey program folded and #BeBoldForChange. Some of the points are apropos, I believe, to what comes next.

Tweet of the Week

Venla Hovi won (what may be the last) Clarkson Cup Championship with the Calgary Inferno and put on a great performance in front of a home crowd at Worlds. Life isn’t always a fairytale, but Hovi doesn’t seem to mind one bit!

Congrats on a great career, Venla!

Five at The IX: Kelly Stephens-Tysland, NWHL to Seattle

Kelly is a University of Minnesota alumna and 2006 Olympian who is now the spokeswoman of the NWHL to Seattle initiative. The group founded by Zoe Harris is embarking on a 3-5 year plan to get women’s hockey to the Pacific Northwest. We spoke yesterday about her involvement in the campaign. Photo courtesy @NWHLtoSeattle

Erica L. Ayala: Tell me how you got involved with the NWHL to Seattle initiative?

Kelly Stephens-Tysland: Zoe Harris came and basically pitched her thoughts and ideas and said, ‘Hey, is this something that you find interesting and would be willing to be a spokesperson and speak to?’ And, I said, ‘Sounds fun. Let’s see where it goes!’

ELA: Women’s hockey has received a lot of attention – both positive and negative – lately. How much of the buzz around the sport played into this campaign from what you know from Zoe and others involved?

KST: What I have seen myself is that the sport of women’s hockey is very much becoming more in the public eye and it is something I think it’s definitely snowballing in a positive way. And yes, having the US women’s team bring home gold was huge. I mean, that really kind of solidified everybody in the country to unite and say, ‘Hey, we have a massive world stage success here.’ And that was amazing. Personally from my background with the Olympics, I mean, that was so huge … I feel that you know, with social media now, which was not really so big back when I was in college, you know, that plays a huge part too where there’s way more access for us and just public to access these top players and the women players.

I think they’ve been very gracious in terms of giving back to the community with their time on whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or just different outlets, to let them kind of in on, ‘Hey, this is me. This is my processes, how I function as a professional athlete or collegiate or Olympic.’ And I think that really creates this bond and a unique picture into women’s sports. And is it really exciting!

ELA: I’m interested to ask you, as we see the unfortunate news of the CWHL closing, there’s been lots of comments and analysis of if and when NHL will get involved. I’m curious as to why you think this approach to cultivating a professional women’s hockey team might work given the landscape of women’s hockey right now? What makes an NWHL to Seattle a little bit different, from your perspective?

KST: We are definitely in the grassroots phase. So this this campaign is really about creating awareness and uniting the community of the women’s hockey here in the Pacific Northwest. I think in the the scope of the three to five years, having the NHL team and that buzz – I mean the tickets sold out [instantly] was insane.

There’s always going to be speculation there’s always going to be, you know, ups and downs. And so this is really, the focus is on, hey, let’s get the conversation started. Let’s put our feelers out there, let’s bring everyone together so that we’re united front, and have the conversation see if we can have some financial backers and get this movement started.

Let’s look at the big picture and at the end of the day, yes, there’s some positive and negative media going on around women’s ice hockey and at the end of the day, it’s conversation and I think we are moving in the right direction. We’re just trying to prepare ourselves in the Pacific Northwest for when when the NHL team is here when the NWHL you know, we’re ready basically for when they’re ready to step in. And I mean, how cool would it be for Seattle to have be the first and the NWHL team on the west coast? I mean, how cool and to me, you dream big. How cool would it be to have three or four teams out here? And, that’s kind of where my mind goes is what’s possible? What could the future hold? And I see those as being positive opportunities for women and for girls at different levels, personal and professional.

ELA: Have you, Zoe, or anyone from NWHL to Seattle had initial conversations with the NWHL? What have those been like?

KST: I personally haven’t. What I do know is our our intention is to host the NWHL All Star game here and that would really be a great statement and showcase for what’s possible and the professional level. I think that would be a great first kind of groundbreaking step for our grassroots movement NWHL to Seattle. It’s kind of like … this is what what it would look like, this is what it would feel like, this is the buzz. And, this is the level of player you can expect to see, which would be pretty awesome.

ELA: If I’m not mistaken, Key Bank is going through some renovations. So, do you have any thoughts on where a women’s team could could call home in the Seattle area?

KST: It would obviously not be up to me. It would be up to the owners of the franchise, right? But yes, from my understanding, there are some renovations going on at the Key Bank. There’s also going to be some practice facilities going into North Gate and obviously, things change but from what I understand this point, I think there’s definitely going to be some ice sheets that would be favorable.

I personally feel that you know, I played college hockey at the University of Minnesota and my sophomore year, we end up getting the first ice hockey rink dedicated to women’s hockey in the country. And it sat just around 3000 and it was awesome. I mean, we sold out it was the coolest thing … 2,000 fans at an 11,000-fan stadium feels very different than 3,000 fans in a 3,000-fan arena. So having something like the North Gate’s facilities … would work really well. For a pro women’s team.

I think it’s a win win for the fans and the players when it feels like hey, we’re rocking. I mean that’s that’s just an awesome situation. So yeah, if I were to guess again, it’s not going to be up to me. But if I were to, you know, throw something out there, I think North Gate would be a great opportunity. And you know what the other thing too is just having several sheets of ice available will be fantastic.

For more on NWHL to Seattle, visit:

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala