The USPHL will make history on Wednesday, Oct. 21, when an all-women officiating crew will officiate the USPHL Elite game between the Islanders Hockey Club and the Bridgewater Bandits at the Bridgewater Ice Arena. Puck drop is set for 11:00 a.m.
Veteran official Katie Guay will wear the orange armbands as referee, with longtime USPHL official Samantha Kline joining newcomer Marissa Peri as linesmen. USPHL Director of Officiating Gene Binda was excited to make the annnouncement, and hinted it may not be the last such assignment this year.
“I will say it took too long for this to happen, however, we are now moving forward,” said Binda.
Guay has a long and distinguished officiating resume, including becoming the first female official to work an NHL event, as she has worked both NHL prospects tournaments and the NHL Officiating Combine.
“I’m really excited,” said Guay, who has worked with Binda to provide several women’s officiating clinics and camps in past years. “It’s important to get female officials at the junior level, to help the referees develop at the same rate of players, which is what it will take to get to the top.
“The numbers [for female officials] are growing. As the numbers increase, so will the talent level,” Guay added.
“This will be my fourth season working junior hockey and working the USPHL. I’m honored and excited to have been chosen for the first all-women’s officiating crew!” said Samantha Kline. “I only know a handful of female officials that work higher level men’s hockey, so it’s great to see more and more women prevailing through the ranks and being given opportunities.
“I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be where I am in officiating if not for the trailblazers that came before me. The best way to honor their legacy is to continue to not only be the best I can be, but to support those around me, so we can continue to pave the road and open doors for those who will come next.”
Marissa Peri has worked the NCAA Division III women’s game in the past, and has also done some boys Midget level games, including games including USPHL teams.
“I’ve worked with Katie before. She was on the crew with me when I worked my first Division III game,” said Peri. “We also know each other from Red Bull Crashed Ice, the downhill skating competition.”
Guay looks back on her first NHL experience, working prospects games during the lead-up to full training camps.
“The prospects tournament was a really high level of play. You have guys who are trying to make their NHL rosters. It was very high energy,” said Guay. “The Combine was incredible, as well, as you get a taste of what NHL Officials go through to prepare for the season.
“Every game you call is a new challenge,” Guay added. “I’m excited to get out there and take what I learned from those experiences.”
Peri, along with her Wednesday crewmates, certainly sees this as a huge step forward for women in the game.
“I think it’s awesome to get women to officiate a men’s game, and it proves that we’re not just here to work with the women’s game,” said Peri. “It proves that girls can do anything, and we can prove we know what we’re doing out there.”
“Women, not only in hockey but in all sports, have come so far and I am proud to continue to grow the game with my teammates,” added Kline.