The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, July 12, 2019

Looking ahead — Interview with Bryan Hicks, PWHPA — Must-click women's hockey links

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Looking ahead

News might be slowing down for now, but there is still plenty to do ahead of the 2019-20 women’s hockey season. With the CWHL now folded, the Kunlun team will play in the Russian league (h/t via @ChunkletsHockey), the NWHL is going back to Florida, and we got some news regarding the PWHPA.

What has been slim pickings are new NWHL signings —although Taylor Accursi, who played last season with the Buffalo Beauts and is as of yet unsigned, will be woking an NWHL clinic in Florida next month. I have reached out to the league, who said Accursi has not signed a contract for the coming season but will participate in the clinic. Accursi has shown support for the #ForTheGame movement and I have asked the PWHPA if she is a dues-paying member and will update.

Most of the NWHL news has been in the form of preseason dates. This is great news, because last preseason seemed rather short and not publicized in advance. Melissa Burgess is keeping a running list of preseason games. So far, UConn, Minnesota, the new LIU program, Northeastern University, and Boston University are the opponents NWHL teams will face this September.

According to Emily’s story for espnW and my conversation with Bryan (both below, keep reading), the NWHL and the PWHPA do not have any plans to play exhibitions or collaborate in any other way.

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!

Melissa Burgess takes a look at women’s hockey then & now. I originally missed this article, thanks Pension Plan Puppets for the h/t.

This covers hockey more generally, but an interesting take on what the NHL can do to diversify its fanbase. An aside: I’d really like us as a society to stop using the term “minority” when referring to people.

Kunlun team, formerly of the CWHL, will play in Russia for the 2019-20 season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the NWHL pair up to bring girls’ clinic to Florida.

Emily Kaplan broke the news of the PWHPA’s new hire Bryan Hicks. Some other interesting details, including the nine players serving as board members.

Nate Oliver on the Fujimoto sister act set to happen in Sweden!

Amanda Kessel on her role with the New York Rangers Junior Hockey program.

Here is a look how two NHL teams are supporting the growth of women & girls in hockey.

Tweet of the Week

Mike Murphy aka “The Stats Man” with the NWHL signings breakdown.

Five at The IX: Bryan Hicks, PWHPA Chief Operations Consultant

Bryan Hicks fell in love with hockey watching the Rangers and attending New England NightHawks games just around the corner from his house. He played goalie through high school and then began to focus on being a referee. Now, he is the chief operations consultant for the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. Here is a bit more about Hicks and the PWHPA.

Erica L. Ayala: Thinking of hockey generally, what have been some of the biggest changes over the years?

Bryan Hicks: The number one thing that has changed is that it has gone from a mentality of ‘let them play. Let the players decide it,’ to actually having a standard of play that is consistent across the board. That skilled players are going to be about to show their skill across the board. The clutching, the grabbing, we’ve seen it in the NHL, we’ve seen it in the NCAA, we’ve seen it in USA Hockey where the skill of these players is everything that is important. And, the way the game has to be called has changed. Where as it used to be that if it didn’t really have an impact or an effect or it wasn’t a situation where … you didn’t want to get involved late in a game. You would only get involved if you had to. 

And now, a penalty is a penalty, regardless of the situation or when it is. 

ELA: What have you seen change in the women’s game?

BH: As far as the women’s game goes, I have to say it has always been a very skilled game. Women’s players have never hid behind checking or fighting or anything along those lines. The level of skill has been tremendous since the beginning. I worked the Polar Bear Tournament growing up in Connecticut over Christmas time every year. You just saw the amazing skill that these players had and it was always a focus there. And anytime I saw the women’s game, the crispness of the passes, the shots, the skating, all of the skills were incredible and usually at a higher level than boys on the same level at the time. 

ELA: Let’s talk about logistics. It sounds as though there are 173 players across nine regions. What is the breakdown? Are the players evenly spread?

BH: We definitely have more players in the Toronto and the New England area when it comes to the regions. But, it’s pretty balanced across the board. We were very deliberate when we were selecting regions because we basically knew where our players were located. 

ELA: A huge conversation across all of women’s sports is closing the wage gap. I am curious, as of right now, regarding any of the events or the scrimmages or games, how if at all will player directly benefit from some of that will respect to compensation?

BH: At this point, we’re not disclosing what the compensation figures look like or what is taking place.

ELA: What are the best ways for people to stay connected with what the PWHPA is doing? How will you use social media?

BH: Those will be the two areas that we’re focused on as far as outreach in that respect. Laura Okmin is our PR consultant and will be handling most of the media inquiries as well as get stories. 

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