How women are honing their skills as on-ice officials at NHL prospect tournaments

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Players aren't the only ones that are getting reps in anticipation of an NHL call-up at the Penticton Young Stars tournament. Meet Alexandra Clarke, writes ThomasDrance. Her jersey colors are black and white stripes.

She went on to work the Beijing Olympics on the women’s hockey side last winter and finished the year working two American Hockey League games in Abbotsford, joining a cohort of 10 women who worked AHL games for the first time during the 2021-22 league year.

It’s perhaps one of the under-the-radar legacies of the prospect development tournaments that are now ubiquitous across North America — that a significant number of the NHL’s younger on-ice officials were first assigned to work a prospect tournament, like the one in Penticton. “I was just waiting by the side of the road up past Hope, B.C.,” Gibbons laughed. “I was very green, I hadn’t even worked a WHL game yet. I was just so excited for the tournament.”

Over time, however, the NHL began to take a more formal role and adopt a more top-down approach to assigning some of their top officiating and linesing prospects to the various North American prospect tournaments. “It’s eye-opening to see how willing the NHL is to give officials an opportunity to showcase their skill,” Clarke says. “They’re not bringing their most qualified officials from an American League standpoint, they’re bringing in officials that they’re seeing potential in and giving them a shot to show that. It’s a cool way to approach this tournament.”


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