Grace Barlow made hockey history Sunday afternoon at the South Surrey Arena.
The 23-year-old former Prince George Northern Capitals defenseman had two firsts on the BC Hockey League stage.
First, she had the honor of being part of the first all-female ice officials team to compete in a Junior A hockey game in Canada. Barlow and Megan Howes of Burnaby were the referees, while Melissa Brunn of Kelowna and Colleen Geddes of Abbotsford were the linesmen.
Then, after the Surrey Eagles put the finishing touches to a 5-4 shootout victory over the Langley Rivermens, the four officials called back when they were all selected as the game’s first stars.
“Being part of an all-female team is both exciting and comfortable,” Barlow told Jesse Adamson, BCHL director of communications and events. “These women next to me have been my friends, as well as my colleagues, for years. To have the opportunity to make history with them is an honor. I hope other young women can watch this game and know that all aspects of hockey are for everyone.
Barlow played three seasons as a defenseman in the BC Women’s Midget Triple A Hockey League for the Prince George Northern Capitals. In 85 championship games, she had four goals and 21 assists and led the Capitals to back-to-back provincial championships in 2015 and 2016.
Cheryl and Mark Barlow’s daughter was an assistant coach two seasons ago for the Northern Capitals. She now lives in Vancouver, where she is enrolled in her second year of the dentistry program at UBC.
Brunn and Geddes worked as linesmen during the BCHL exhibition season on October 5-6 when Canada’s National Women’s Team visited the Trail Smoke Eaters and Cranbrook Bucks. Sunday’s game was the first BCHL experience for Barlow and Howes.
“Sharing the ice with strong athletes is one thing, but skating alongside strong female athletes at this level is another,” Howes said. “I am extremely proud of our journey so far.”
Said Brunn: “As much as we want to approach this as ‘just another game on a Sunday’, I hope it shows that the hard work and dedication is paying off. This game is monumental for hockey since four women take the ice. However, it is also about recognizing that dynamism and determination are not marked by gender. I hope we can make BCHL, our peers and the young female athletes proud.
All four women have participated in Hockey Canada’s Officials Pathways program, having learned their trade starting with their local hockey associations and provincial high performance programs.
“This is another step towards a more inclusive approach to hockey,” said Vanessa Stratton, manager of women’s officials for BC Hockey. “We welcome BCHL’s openness to providing equitable opportunities to women. This match will showcase the abilities of our female referees to perform at this level and hopefully in the future will become mundane, rather than celebrated. “
“They are leaders for the next generation of young official women and that is something to be so proud of.”
Barlow, Howes and Brunn refereed the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Hockey Championship in Manitoba, while Barlow refereed the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.
The success these officials have achieved is a testament to their perseverance and dedication to their profession, ”said Dan Hanoomansingh, Manager of Officials at Hockey Canada. “Yes, it’s a historic evening, but with the work being done at the membership level, the hope is that it will become commonplace in the not-so-distant future. “
At the WHL level, Alex Clarke, 28, of Weyburn, Sask., Became the first official woman on the ice when she worked as a linesman in a preseason game on September 24 in Moose Jaw between the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats. .