Kirsten Welsh Makes Hockey History

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Kirsten Welsh Makes Hockey History

Kirsten Welsh made hockey history last week when she became the first woman to work the officiating lines during an Ontario Hockey League game.

The 24-year old native of Blackstock (north of Toronto, near Port Perry) Ontario, worked her first OHL regular season game at the Memorial Auditorium as the Kitchener Rangers hosted the Owen Sound Attack. The first female to ever work as a member of the OHL Officiating Team joined the league after attending the National Hockey League Officiating Exposure Combine last August in Buffalo, New York. She was contacted by the OHL after that event and worked a pair of OHL exhibition games shortly thereafter when the Missisauga Steelheads hosted the Guelph Storm and the Windsor Spitfires played the Generals in Oshawa in September of this year.

“This is an incredible opportunity and I can’t really put into words what it feels like to be working in the Ontario Hockey League,” Welsh said in a statement released by the OHL and posted on the league’s website. “Just being one of the first women to do this, it really opens that door to women in hockey who want to have an alternate avenue that maybe isn’t playing in the Premier Hockey Federation or playing on a national team.

“Being an advocate and having this opportunity, I just feel so lucky,” she continued. “It’s an incredible process to be a part of. I’m so lucky I can be a part of something that is going to affect generations of little girls.”

The OHL was similarly thrilled to be able to add a person of Welsh’s abilities to its officiating staff.

“On behalf of the OHL and its member teams, I’d like to extend a warm welcome and congratulate Kirsten Welsh on the accomplishment of joining the OHL Officiating Team,” said Commissioner David Branch. “Kirsten has demonstrated an ability to officiate the game at a high level and we’re excited to see her break barriers as she continues her development as a linesperson in the OHL.”

Welsh currently lives in Freedom, Pennsylvania after graduating as captain of the Robert Morris University women’s NCAA hockey program. She was a highly-skilled offensive defenceperson during her four-year university career, as evidenced by her 34 goals and 57 assists in 128 regular season games.; Prior to joining the American school, Welsh excelled as a member of the Whitby Wolves Women’s Hockey Program.

Welsh continued to make hockey history the next night after her Ontario Hockey League game when she was back on the ice for her first-ever American Hockey League regular season game in the circuit that is comprised of the top farm teams of National Hockey League clubs.. She worked the lines as the Belleville Senators hosted the Bridgeport Islanders.

Welsh will continue to split her work during the 2021-2022 season between the OHL and AHL.

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