In the upcoming NHL All Star Weekend taking place in St. Louis January 24th and 25th the league’s biggest and brightest stars will come together to showcase their talents. New to this year’s schedule is another competition that will be showcasing the top female American and Canadian All-Stars in a twenty minute, 3-on-3 tournament scheduled to take place on January 24th.
The addition of this game is important to women’s hockey as it provides the chance for these elite athletes to display their speed, skills, and abilities on ice in front of a wide-ranging audience. These women have not only earned but deserve this chance to perform in such an important event showcasing not only the top men in the sport of hockey, but now women as well.
US Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne Schofield was one of the women who competed in last year’s All-Star event where she placed seventh out of eight male skaters in the fastest skater competition. Coyne Schofield along with Brianna Decker who also competed in last year’s competition will be returning for this year’s All-Star game with team US where they will face off against top players from Canada such as Marie-Philip Poulin and Natalie Spooner. With the terrific results from the women in last year’s competition, the game between the women in this year’s competition is expected to be eye opening for many viewers. The game is scheduled to be covered on national television, which is a huge step in the right direction for women’s hockey as spectators very seldom are given the chance to view women’s hockey on television.
Though women’s hockey is nowhere near that of their male counterparts, the inclusion of these women into the All-Star event could be the beginning of new opportunities for them to receive more recognition for their abilities in the game. The speed and physicality that these women bring to their game may surprise some spectators viewing the 3-on-3 game. As a society it is important to realize that unlike elite male athletes who are in the NHL, elite women who are capable of competing at high levels are not given the same opportunities to do so.
Gender differences in the sport of hockey are notably different, yet continue to slowly grow amongst male and female players. It is important that, as a society, we continue to grow and allow equal opportunities for men and women competing at these elite levels to be recognized and rewarded equally for their contributions to the sport of hockey.