Photo courtesy of NHL.com.
The NHL had its all-star festivities this past weekend, but the biggest story was the impressive performances by several female hockey players. While those who have paid attention to the CWHL and NWHL know the skill level of these players, the NHL’s event provided an opportunity for women’s hockey to showcase its talent to a wider audience.
In front of thousands of hockey fans in San Jose, as well as those watching at home in Canada and the United States, a pair of U.S. Olympic gold medalists, Kendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker, stole the show. Rebecca Johnston and Renata Fast also participated in the skills competition, demonstrating the various events for those in attendance.
Coyne Schofield, a member of the NWHL’s Minnesota Whitecaps, became the first woman to compete in the NHL skills competition. Taking part in the fastest skater event, Coyne Schofield finished with a time of 14.346 seconds. In doing so, she showed the speed of the women’s game is right on par with the men’s game. She was only one second behind Connor McDavid.
Calgary Inferno forward, Brianna Decker, demonstrated the passing competition, but did not compete in the racing rounds. Although her time was not recorded and had not been shown on live television, her unofficial time of 1:06 was faster than any of the NHL players. This sparked a #PayDecker campaign on social media, as fans believed Decker should receive the $25,000 prize money for finishing with the fastest time. CCM Hockey stepped up and gave the amount to Decker, while the NHL donated $25,000 to charity in each of Decker, Coyne Schofield, Johnston and Fast’s names and of their respective choosing.
It’s great to see that female hockey players got the recognition and appreciation they’ve deserved for quite some time, but this event should be considered only the beginning of growing women’s hockey. For all the women and young girls watching in the stands or at home, it was a reminder that they can absolutely pursue their dreams in hockey.