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Former Select director Hanley excited, honored to officiate historic 2020-21 NWHL season


Kendall Hanley will help make NWHL history this season.

A former director for the Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association, Hanley will be part of an all-female officiating staff for the NWHL. The league’s regular-season games as well as the 2021 Isobel Cup Playoffs will be staged at the iconic Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., from Jan. 23–Feb. 5, 2021.

“(Director of the USA Hockey Officiating Education Program) Matt Leaf and USA Hockey have worked hard to create a pathway for development for female officials and are leaders in building relationships that provide us opportunities to do what we love,” Hanley said. “It’s wonderful to see the NWHL shares this vision. Matt reached out to me about the upcoming NWHL season, and I could not respond with my commitment fast enough.

“I’m so honored to be a part of this team of dedicated, seasoned officials who share my passion for hockey and officiating.  While we all live in different areas of the U.S., many of us have overlapped in our officiating journey and we have built close friendships, so the opportunity to work together in this unique situation is really special.”

Other officials include Sarah Buckner (Crystal, Minn.), Erika Greenen (Romeoville, Ill.), Alicia Hanrahan (St. Paul, Minn.), Jacqueline Howard (Gaithersburg, Md.), Jamie Huntley-Park (San Diego, Calif.), Jackie Spresser (Thornton, Colo.), Amanda Tassoni (Bradford, R.I.), Mackenzie Welter (Rome, N.Y.), and Laura White (Runnemede, N.J.).

“We’re appreciative of the partnership that has been formed with the NWHL in an effort to promote and develop our female officials,” said Leaf. “The officials that have been selected are highly skilled, motivated and team-oriented officials who are up for the challenges that will be critical to the success of the NWHL season.

“They are the brightest and best of our current and future top-level female officials who bring a balance of experience, versatility, loyalty and an unmatched skill and a passion to be the best they can be each time they step on the ice.”

“I am thrilled with the officiating staff that we have assembled for the NWHL’s sixth season,” added Michelle Picard, deputy commissioner of the NWHL, who has previously played on U.S. Olympic and Women’s National Teams. “In working with Matt Leaf and USA Hockey, we’ve identified 10 of the most highly qualified officials from across the country. We are looking forward to having this group’s expertise, enthusiasm, and professionalism in Lake Placid.”

Hanley grew up in North Carolina and said she has loved and been involved in hockey most of her life, from playing as a kid with her father as her first coach on through the collegiate level (at NCAA Division III Elmira College and SUNY-Oswego). After that, great friends and mentors introduced her to officiating and Hanley was hooked. 

In the fall of 2019, Hanley became the first female to officiate an NHL preseason game when she worked four games in Traverse City, Mich.

“Through USA Hockey Officiating Development Camps, some fantastic mentors, a lot of hard work and always being a student of the game, I’ve been fortunate enough to work many levels of hockey here in the U.S. as well as internationally,” said Hanley. “My two seasons directing the Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association gave me perspective into other roles within hockey, and I draw on that experience often as an official. I’ve had the honor to represent the U.S. at a few IIHF World Championships, and last season I had the opportunity to be one of the four women selected to work NHL Prospect Tournaments for the first time.”

Now heavily involved with the NWHL, Hanley is all in when it comes to promoting the league.

“Living in Minnesota when the NWHL expanded to include the Minnesota Whitecaps was really exciting,” Hanley said. “I had a front-row seat to see the overwhelming fan support and sold-out arenas as I was fortunate enough to receive game assignments. I’m excited to see the league is expanding again with the Toronto Six, and the increased opportunity that not only provides for players but also for officials. The opportunities for women are growing in all areas of the sport, and USA Hockey and the NWHL are a huge part of this, leading by example with their commitment to utilizing female officials.

“The timeframe and COVID restrictions alone would make this season historic, and so it seems fitting to have it all take place in the legendary Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, the home of miracles. I expect an intense few weeks of world-class, professional hockey and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

Prioritizing the health and safety of the players, staff and all involved, the NWHL will play its sixth season in a centralized and protected environment. The competition will feature the NWHL’s six teams – Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, and Toronto.

Launched in 2015, the NWHL features more than 120 players, including stars from NCAA Division I programs and players with national team experience from the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

— Matt Mackinder

(Jan. 6, 2021)

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