The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, January 25, 2019

Staying neutral .. for now! Interview with Liz Knox, and must-click women's hockey stories

Hello from Montreal everyone! I hope you’ve enjoyed the jam-packed week of women’s sports. I am so excited to have Lindsay Gibbs (tennis) and Carly Grenfell (golf) join the team. We hope you will continue to like, share, comment, and of course subscribe to The IX Newsletter so we can keep the women’s sports coverage coming.

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On that note: As you know, I covered the CWHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto. Lots was said leading up to the game about media accommodations, coaches, and other things. I am going to table any conversation on that for a few reasons:

  1. I’m technically on vacation and have decided to forgo drama for another week

  2. This was my first CWHL experience and I want to listen to others more closely involved

  3. I wanted to hear what the players had to say before making my opinion (see below for my conversation with Liz Knox)

  4. I still have a few things I’m awaiting clarification on a few things

So, more to come on this! With all that said, please follow some of the writers who were here with me working the CWHL All-Star Game, such as @TheWHMA ‏, @SeeWhatSheCanDo, @Rob_DelMundo , @robynlisaflynn, @jaredbook, @hailey_salvian, @CaptainBapty  and more using #CWAllStar.

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This Week in Women’s Basketball

Here is some coverage of the 2019 CWHL All-Star Game:

The Hockey Hall of Fame is inundated with North American talent, who will be the first female inductee from outside of North America? Mike Murphy & Meredith Foster offer a few names.

Like many places, Colorado women’s hockey players have all the guts, but none of the glory, writes Ashley Potts.

Madison Packer questions her one-game suspension in a raw interview. Full audio can be found over at the TIG Podcast Network Patreon page.

A great analysis of the Connecticut Whale defense in the latest Stock Report by Casey Bryant.

Liz Knox chatted with Mike Murphy ahead of the CWHL All-Star Game. More from the Markham goalie for this week’s Five at The IX.

FILM: “Fighting on Ice” is a new documentary highlighting women’s and men’s ice hockey in India. Additionally, the feature film “Indian Horse”, about the link between hockey and Canadian residential schools, is set to debut in the United States in April.

The Aurora Games (an all-female sports competition featuring world-class athletes representing the Americas and a World team) are coming and Glen Falls will host the International hockey tournament. Kelli Stack (USA), and Jennifer Harss (Germany) and Venla Hovi (Finland) are expected to participate in the tournament in August.

Come for Blake Bolden discussing her healthy eating habits, stay for Nate Oliver’s food puns.

The Elmira Soaring Eagles have been to seven Division III national championship games, winning three. Senior Katie Granato hopes to build on that legacy in her final season.

An update on a story we highlighted several months ago: University of Lethbridge head coach Michelle Janus left midseason. Janus was kept on after the school found no harassment policies violated in response to allegations of bullying and harassment in a lawsuit brought by six former players.

Tweet of the Week

When a legend calls you a legend, #Priceless. Happy belated birthday Shireen!

Five at The IX: Liz Knox, Markham Thunder goalie

Liz Knox (left) was voted captain in her first-ever All-Star Game in her seven year CWHL career. So, what did the CWHLPA co-chair think about the weekend? Take a look below. Photo courtesy of CWHL, Credit: Chris Tanouye.

Erica L. Ayala: You just had the CWHL All-Star game, it’s your first All-Star game and you were voted captain. Now that you’ve had a few days to take it in, what do you make of the opportunity to play in the 2019 All-Star Game?

Liz Knox: If it was surreal before, it’s all of the more surreal that it happened now. The whole weekend, like getting to know some of the girls that haven’t had the opportunity meet the past, you know mixing and mingling and really getting to know them was probably one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Everyone was there for the right reasons and there was so much talent and there was the same mindset, just [to] have a good time and enjoy the game and enjoy each other’s company.

I think it really developed and showed on the ice.

So it was yeah definitely a highlight of my entire career to be able to be there and to be captain just made it that much more special. You know kind of celebrating the few years that I’ve put in with the people that I know. So it was really, really cool.

ELA: The league received public criticism for the CWHL Draft being closed to media. You took to Twitter to offer your two cents, I was wondering if you can expound upon your post and why you felt the need to make it?

LK: Definitely. Because I’m on the PA, I’m very conscious of what’s happening in media and how our league is being represented to the public. And so when I heard that there was no media access, of course I was as confused probably as some of the people who were voicing their opinion. And so when I got the All-Star game and I had a chance to talk to our director of hockey and our commissioner (Jayna Hefford), I just said, “Hey, so what’s going on?” Just so I know because generally that kind of stuff as I end up getting asked [about].

And Janya is just flat out said you guys do so much to promote our league and promote women’s hockey, I wanted the draft to just be about you guys … it made me take a step back really and just think like yeah, we too often do not take time to actually just enjoy what we’re doing.

And that’s not to say that we don’t enjoy what we’re doing. We we love playing hockey. We love being a face in the public that we love spreading awareness about women’s hockey. But I thought how how kind of her to just say you know, for one night let’s just let the players enjoy each other, have some food, have some drinks and just get to sit down and chat with each other. And that’s something that once the weekend was all done, you just don’t get enough time. There’s not enough time to soak it all in. That’s kind of where I was coming from.

We certainly do appreciate the media and all they do for us because they’re very much in the same boat as us; it’s not the most lucrative position to hold in the world but in the end they’re dedicated. They put in a ton of hard work and I just kind of wanted to clear the air because it came from a really good place and I wanted to make sure that people knew that.

ELA: There were also conversations about having male celebrity coaches. I’m curious your thoughts about some of the social media reactions, as well as your opinions. Is having male coaches good? Would you prefer former female players participate?

LK: This is entirely my opinion, but I think a balance of both is great! I played in the driveway as Doug Gilmore and I played in the driveway as Curtis Joseph you know.

I understand the other side. I understand when people want all female staff or are all females in those positions. But as a player growing up in a time when I didn’t have those female role models to look up to like I said, I wanted to be Curtis Joseph. So to see Curtis Joseph on the bench or to see him in the hallway before the All-Star Game … I can go up to him and shake his hand and say you’re an inspiration to me and thanks for all that you’ve done and thanks for being here.

I mean in my opinion that’s awesome, right! Of course I’m not saying no females. It was great to have [Charline Labonté] on our bench. You know she’s somebody that I look up to in my college career and who became a close friend of mine after that. And Anastasia [Bucsis] you know what she was doing for sport across the board is inspiring and something that we need.

But at the same time if you have men who are willing and wanting to be part of it then why not?

ELA: I guess there are worse things than people being overprotective of women’s hockey …

LK: Yeah, I totally agree with you on that. I think the thing that people fear is that you know somebody is going to come in and turn this into something that it hasn’t been. Or turn this into something that it’s not. At the end of the day it just won’t happen because the players will not play for something that they don’t believe in.

ELA: You mentioned on Sunday that you might be coming to the end of your career. You’ve played with the Thunder organization your entire career. What has it meant to do all you’ve done relatively close to home?

LK:  I grew up in in very close to Markham, just north of Markham in the town called Stouffville. So when Brampton decided to move from Markham. I really felt like it was you know kind of circle and all my memories of playing minor hockey and so you know guys and girls that I’d grown up playing with you know a lot of them still in the area. Some of them went the All-Star game. So it’s it was really cool because like you say it just you feel like back at home right. And and certainly that kind of nostalgic or romanticized feeling you know makes you think, is this is this a sign you know is it time is that the hockey gods telling you you’re done now?

In Brampton I was mentored by some of women’s hockey’s greatest athletes. And Jayna being one of them. So I think the the thing that I’m most proud of … is just thinking that hopefully I did my best filling the shoes of of the people that were there before me and … that I was able to carry on some of the traits of the team that that worked for us back then that find a spark that makes [people] proud. And hopefully we can pass those kind of lessons on to the next generation of players coming here.

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