Hockey is mostly known as a sport for men only, but with the increasing interest of women, this is no longer the case. There is a long list of male hockey superstars and great teams but little attention has been brought to the growing eminence of female hockey. Since all the focus in the media right now is on the NHL and the playoffs, now is the perfect time to take a look at women’s hockey.
Today the number of female hockey players and teams is increasing – below, you’ll find four female hockey players who are tearing up the ice:
Playing in four straight Olympics and emerging with three silver medals and one bronze, Chu has had a very successful hockey career. As a member of Team USA, her goal of winning a gold medal in Sochi this year came up short in a loss to longtime rival Canada. Chu is also a member of the Montreal Stars where she continues her hockey play in Canada’s women’s league when she is not participating in the Olympics.
Meanwhile Chu is seeking development of a women's league in North America. The existence of a women’s league will give American women the opportunity to play closer to home instead of seeking opportunities to play internationally.
With few opportunities for high level female players available, Olympic goaltender Shannon Szabados decided to try her hand at the men's game. Szabados, a two time Olympic gold medalist with Canada as they eliminated the USA in Sochi, became one of the first women to ever play in a men’s professional sports league when she joined the Columbus Cottonmouths in the Southern Professional Hockey League. Szabados’ participation began last month in a lost to the Knoxville Ice Bears.
Although hockey is a dangerous sport, especially in the NHL, Szabados is an example of why women have the ability to play in a men’s league. Until women's leagues become more developed, we may see more female players follow Szabados to the men’s leagues.
At the early age of 15, Hayley was selected to join the Canadian Women's National Team, and has since led the team to 6 gold medals and 1 silver medal. Recently in Sochi, it was noted that Haley was key to her team winning the gold medal, despite playing with a broken foot. Making history similar to her female hockey companions, she was the first women to play for a men’s team in a position other than goalie. She made history joining the Kirkkonummen Salamat, a team in Finland’s second division, and became the first woman to score a point in a men’s game in 2003.
Other than of hockey, Hayley has had other professions. Also great at softball, she participated in the sport at 2000 Summer Olympics, and was a softball analyst for CBS in their coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
With so many great female players, there are some that are considered true legends to the game of hockey, and Erika Holst is definitely considered one of them. As the captain of the Swedish national team, she was always in attack mode on the offensive end. Her offensive prowess led her team to an Olympic bronze medal by scoring five goals in five games in 2002. To extend her great track record, she also led her team to the silver medal in the 2006 Olympics. The Swedish player also had a very impressive college record that consisted of consecutive NCAA championships from 2001-2003.
To maintain her greatness on the ice, Holst has a rigorous weekly training schedule that consists of 4 nights of training with the team, 2 games, and training on her own before lunch each day.
Holst also passes on her hockey experience to younger players as a guest at many summer hockey camps in Sweden. She also works for the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation, where she’s responsible for the development of women’s hockey.
As support for women’s hockey continues to increase and more leagues develop, hockey will finally lost its status as a sport for men only. These are just four of the many great female hockey players that deserve recognition at the level that men receive. These days it’s easier than ever to find and support women’s hockey, since women’s NCAA games can now be viewed through the sports channels, and many international games are available online and as Direct Television Specials. As long as women continue to be to interested in playing, women’s hockey will continue to flourish!