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Thornton’s Spresser finds NWHL officiating assignment for historic ‘20-21 season ‘truly amazing’


Jackie Spresser will be on the ice for the upcoming NWHL season, and the Thornton native will be part of an historic season for the women’s professional hockey league.

The NWHL’s upcoming season will have an all-female officiating staff. 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.

When the chance to be part of history presented itself, Spresser didn’t hesitate.

“USA Hockey has a great working relationship with the NWHL, so I was contacted by Matt Leaf, the director of the USA Hockey Officiating Education Program, advising that the opportunity was potentially available,” Spresser said. “Once the NWHL was able to finalize all of the details referencing how this season was going to work, especially due to necessary COVID-19 restrictions and protocol, my selection to participate became official.”

Spresser added that seeing her name included with an all-female staff is “truly amazing.”

“It is so special to be a part of what feels like history in the making,” Spresser said. “With all of the advances that have been made in women’s hockey over the last few years, especially since the formation of the NWHL, it is about time there is an all-female officiating staff. Many of the women who will be working alongside me have become some of my closest friends, so sharing this experience with them makes it that much more of a blessing.”

Other officials include Sarah Buckner (Crystal, Minn.), Erika Greenen (Romeoville, Ill.), Kendall Hanley (Minneapolis, Minn., former Colorado Select director), Alicia Hanrahan (St. Paul, Minn.), Jacqueline Howard (Gaithersburg, Md.), Jamie Huntley-Park (Escondido, Calif.), 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.”

Spresser grew up playing hockey in Colorado with the Hyland Hills Jaguars association, where she was the only girl on the boys teams. She later made the transition to girls hockey and finished her playing career as a member of the Colorado Select AAA program. 

“My father played and officiated hockey for as long as I can remember, so he certainly played a big role in fueling my passion for the game,” said Spresser. “I then began officiating as a young teenager, and I have since continued to work local youth and college hockey leagues around Colorado. I have attended USA Hockey officiating development camps, which opened the doors for opportunities to work regional and national championships around the U.S. as well. 

“In 2011, I obtained my IIHF license and have been fortunate to have many officiating dreams come true since, traveling to and exploring many beautiful countries while participating in world championships.”

Moving forward, Spresser is expecting the NWHL season to be “one for the books.”

“It is already unique due to the formatting, but this is also the inaugural season for the newest NWHL team, the Toronto Six,” said Spresser. “I have been fortunate to work in the NWHL since its inception, but it is exciting to see the league continue to expand, and I am blessed for the opportunity to continue to be a part of it, especially in such a historical season, not only for the NWHL, but for female officials too. 

“And, of course, I am excited about the hockey history associated with the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid. Being a part of something this big, and the anticipation of seeing the Isobel Cup won on the same sheet where the Miracle on Ice took place, is really incredible.”

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

(Dec. 30, 2020)

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