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American women's ice hockey history

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The history of women's ice hockey in the United States can be traced back to the early 20th Centry. In the 1920's, the Seattle Vamps competed in various hockey tournaments. In 1916, the United States hosted an international hockey tournament in Cleveland, Ohio, that featured Canadian and American women’s hockey teams.


In 1997-98, the American Women's College Hockey Alliance debuted. It was a program funded through the USOC/NCAA Conference Grant Program. The AWCHA organized and developed activities with collegiate women's varsity ice hockey teams, and helped to promote women's ice hockey at all NCAA levels. The first AWCHA Division I National Ice Hockey Championship was held in March 1998. The New Hampshire Wildcats defeated the Brown Bears by a 4-1 score, to become the first recognized national champion in women's college ice hockey. In the 1999-2000 season, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) joined the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) as the second league in the nation to offer women's Division I competition. [1]

There were two more AWCHA National Championships and then the NCAA became involved. In August 2000, the NCAA announced it would hold its first Division I Women's Ice Hockey National Championship. The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs captured the first NCAA Division I Women's Ice Hockey Championship, defeating the St. Lawrence Skating Saints by a 4-2 tally on March 25, 2001.


Notable gamesEdit

  • February 28, 2010: The RPI Engineers women's ice hockey team made NCAA history. The Engineers beat Quinnipiac, 2-1, but it took five overtimes. It is now the longest college hockey game in NCAA history. Senior defenseman Laura Gersten had the game winning goal. She registered it at 4:32 of the fifth overtime session to not only clinch the win, but the series victory. [2] RPI advanced to the ECAC Hockey Women's Semifinals for the second consecutive season. The Engineers will face top ranked Cornell University.

Outdoor gamesEdit

  • On Friday, January 8, 2010, Boston's Fenway Park played host to a Hockey East doubleheader. In the first game, the New Hampshire Wildcats women's ice hockey team faced off against the Northeastern Huskies women's ice hockey team in an outdoor college hockey doubleheader at in the first outdoor women’s hockey game in the sport’s history.[3] Northeastern surged to a 2-0 lead, but New Hampshire rallied to win 5-3. The latter game featured the men's teams from Boston College and Boston University, in which BU won 3-2.
  • February 6, 2010: The No. 9 ranked Wisconsin Badgers women's ice hockey team (16-10-3, 13-9-1 WCHA) defeated the Bemidji State Beavers women's ice hockey team (8-14-7, 7-9-7 WCHA), 6-1, in the first ever Culver’s Camp Randall Hockey Classic at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers played in front of an NCAA-record crowd of 8,263 fans in the second-ever women’s hockey outdoor showdown. Sophomore Carolyne Prevost scored the first goal in Camp Randall history at the 16:53 mark and backhanded it in to put the Badgers up 1-0. The Badgers dominated offensively, outshooting the Beavers 42-13. Freshman Becca Ruegsegger (Lakewood, Colo.) finished with 13 saves in net for Wisconsin,[4]

Ivy League women’s hockeyEdit

In 1964, the Brown Bears men's coach Jim Fullerton arranged for Nancy Schieffelin to attend a team practice. She was an experienced player and came to the practice disguised in full uniform. A year later, Brown University would have the first women's ice hockey program. The team was known as the Pembroke Pandas. The Pandas would have to borrow equipment, and sell hockey rule sheets at the Bears men's games to raise money for equipment. In February 1966, the Pandas (Brown Bears) women’s ice hockey team played their first game. Against the Walpole Brooms, the club lost by a 4-1 score.

The Cornell women's hockey program was started in 1971. It would only be in 1972 that the team would play its first game. It was a 4-3 victory over Scarborough. In 1972, they would play eight games and lose four. In addition, the Big Red would lose twice to the Brown Bears women's ice hockey program.

Yale University debuted its women’s ice hockey program on December 9, 1975. Its first match was versus Choate-Rosemary Hall. The Bulldogs prevailed by a 5-3 tally. Two years later, the Bulldogs hockey program would attain varsity status. [5] In 1976, Brown would host the first ever Ivy League women's ice hockey tournament. The other competing schools were Cornell, Princeton and Yale. The Big Red would win the tournament.

Dartmouth College would welcome women’s ice hockey on January 7, 1978. The Big Green would defeat Middlebury by a 6-5 score. The Big Green would finish their inaugural season with 7 wins, 7 losses, and 1 tie. Against Ivy League teams, the Big Green were 1-3-1. In the 1978-79 season, the Harvard Crimson would ice a women’s team. Their first game was a 17-0 defeat at the hands of the Providence Friars women's ice hockey program. The next game was a 2-1 loss to the Yale Bulldogs women's ice hockey program.

On November 24, 1979, the Princeton Tigers played their first varsity game against the University of Pennsylvania. [6] In winter of 1982, Princeton would snap the Cornell Big Red women's ice hockey program's string of six straight Ivy League titles. [7]

In 1998, the Patty Kazmaier Award was introduced. [8] The award is named after former Princeton Tigers player Patty Kazmaier. In 1998-99, the Harvard Crimson finished with a record of 33-1. Led by head coach, Katey Stone, the Crimson would proceed to win the American Women's College Hockey Alliance national championship. [9]

Ivy League players accomplishmentsEdit

In 1987, Mollie Marcoux joined the Princeton Tigers. In her four years with the Tigers, Marcoux would gain twelve letters in athletics (including hockey, soccer, and lacrosse). In 1990, Dartmouth Big Green player Judy Parish Oberting was named to the first U.S. National Team that competed at the 1990 Women's World Ice Hockey Championships. In 1998, Laurie Belliveau of Yale and Sarah Hood of Dartmouth were two Ivy League players named first team All-Americans. [10] This was the first time that Ivy League women's hockey players were bestowed such an honor.

During the 2003-04 season, Nicole Corriero would set an NCAA record with 59 goals scored in a season. [11] In the same season, former Princeton player Laura Halldorson would coach the Minnesota Golden Gophers women's ice hockey program to the 2004 NCAA title. [12]

Notable teamsEdit

Connecticut Polar BearsEdit

The Connecticut Polar Bears are an ice hockey league for girls under the age of 19 in Connecticut. Numerous players from the Polar Bears have go on to careers in college hockey at the NCAA Division I and Division III levels. In 1985, Maurice FitzMaurice’s daughter Marnie wanted the opportunity to play ice hockey among girls. FitzMaurice and a few other fathers decided to organize a Pee Wee Girls program. The result was the Connecticut Polar Bears. It is the only all girl’s ice hockey program in Connecticut, which consists of eleven teams. Since its beginnings, FitzMaurice has been the President of the Polar Beasrs. He was also one of the organizers of one of the largest Christmas tournaments in North America. In 2007, the tournament hosted about 275 teams. Games were played across Connecticut. The program has produced numerous Olympians, including: Julie Chu, Jaime Hagerman, Hillary Knight, Sue Merz, A.J. Mleczko, Kim Insalaco, Angela Ruggiero, Sarah Vaillancourt and Gretchen Ulion.

  • The Polar Bears have won 10 championships at the National level.
Year City Results
1986 Detroit, MI Peewee team won in final over Assabet, MA 7-0
1990 Detroit, MI Midget team won in OT final against Assabet, MA 2-1
1991 Boston, MA Midget team won in final against Michigan 3-2
1995 Syracuse, NY Peewee team won in double OT final against Assabet, MA 2-1
1996 Bloomington, MN Peewee team won in final against Assabet, MA 5-2
1997 Boston, MA Peewee team won in final against Minnesota 5-2
1997 Boston, MA Midget team won in final against Minnesota 3-1
1998 Anaheim, CAMidget team won in final against Team California 3-0
1999 Minneapolis MN Midget team won in Final against Minnesota 2-1
2004 Rochester, NY Midget team won in Final against Assabet 4-0

Minnesota WhitecapsEdit

Minnesota first competed for the Clarkson Cup in 2009 in Kingston Ontario. The team lost to the Montreal Stars in a one game final 3 goals to 1. In 2010, the Minnesota Whitecaps became the first United States based team to win the Clarkson Cup doing so by defeating the Brampton Thunder 4 goals to none. [13]

Seattle VampsEdit

As early as January 1916, Frank Patrick and Lester Patrick talked of the formation of a women’s league to complement the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. [14] The proposal included teams from Vancouver, Victoria, Portland and Seattle. The league never formed but in January 1917, the Vancouver News-Advertiser reported that wives of the Seattle Metropolitans had assembled a team.

In February 1921, Frank Patrick announced a women’s international championship series that would be played in conjuction with the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. [15] The three teams that competed were the Vancouver Amazons, Victoria Kewpies, and Seattle Vamps. On February 21, 1921, the Seattle Vamps competed against the Vancouver Amazons in Vancouver, and were vanquished by a 5-0 score. Two days later, the Vamps played against a team from the University of British Columbia and won the game. Jerry Reed scored three goals (a hat trick) in the game for the Vamps. In both games, the Vancouver media referred to the Seattle team as the Seattle Sweeties. [16] The Amazons would travel to Seattle and defeat them again. On March 2, 1921, the Vamps were defeated by the Kewpies 1-0 in Seattle. In the rematch on March 12, the Vamps travelled to Victoria. The result was a 1-1 tie, and Jerry Reed scored the goal for Seattle. The goaltender for the Vamps was Mildren Terran. [17] After the 1921 season, the Vamps and the Kewpies ceased operations.


In 1994, more than 500 member schools were sent letters by the Minnesota State high school league. The intent was to determine how many schools were interested in starting girls' ice hockey teams. Twenty-four expressed interest as the league was looking for a new sport for Title IX purposes. On March 21, 1994, the Minnesota State High School League sanctioned girls’ ice hockey. Minnesota becomes the first state in the U.S. to sanction girls’ ice hockey as a high school varsity sport. [18] On March 25, 1995, Apple Valley High School defeated the South St. Paul Packers, 2-0, to become the first Minnesota girls’ state high school champion. From 1994 to 2002, the number of varsity girls' teams in Minnesota expanded from 24 to 125 (in two classifications, AA and A). In 2001, a three-day girls' state tournament attracted 15,551 spectators. [19]

In 1994 there were 1,863 girls in the state participating in organized hockey outside of a varsity high school program. In 2002, the number increased to 6,856.[20]

Timeline of eventsEdit

  • 1980: The Amateur Hockey Association of the United States (known today as USA Hockey) hosts the first National Championships for girls’ pee wee and midget divisions. A team from Taylor, Michigan wins the inaugural pee wee tournament. A team from Wayzata, Minn., is the first girls’ midget National Champion.
  • 1981: Senior women are included in USA Hockey’s National Championships. Assabet Valley, Mass., wins the Senior A National Championship, while Cape Cod, Mass., winning the Senior B crown.
  • 1984: The Providence Friars women’s hockey program wins the inaugural Eastern College Athletic Conference Women’s Championship.
  • 1993: Women’s hockey is included at the U.S. Olympic Festival for the first time ever. The festival is held in San Antonio, Texas and the US women’s team defeats Canada in a two-game series for the gold medal.
  • 1994: The third IIHF Women’s World Championship is held in the United States for the first time. The venue is Lake Placid, New York. Canada wins the gold medal game by a 6-3 mark against the U.S. Finland defeats China, 8-1, to finish third once again.
  • 1995: On March 25, Apple Valley High School defeats the South St. Paul Packers, 2-0, to become the first Minnesota girls’ state high school champion.
  • 1995: The inaugural IIHF Pacific Rim Women’s Hockey Championship, featuring the U.S., Canada, China and Japan, is held in San Jose, California. The Canadian team defeates the U.S. in an overtime shootout to win the gold medal.


  • Lauren Apollo played for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. She was a member of the United States national team in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
  • Cindy Curley, played for the Providence Friars and was a member of several U.S. international teams in the early 1990s
  • Laura Halldorson was a coach for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. She played at Princeton with Patty Kazmaier. In addition, she played with Cindy Curley and Lauren Apollo on the earliest U.S. National teams. Five of the players she coached at Minnesota would later become Olympians themselves, including 2006 U.S. captain Krissy Wendell.
  • The late Patty Kazmaier played for the Princeton Tigers. An award for the best player in women's college hockey is named in her honor.
  • Sue Ring-Jarvi is considered,the grandmother of girls' and women's hockey in Minnesota. She was part of the movement that was part of Minnesota becoming the first state to recognize girls' hockey as a varsity sport, in 1994. [21]
  • Laura Stamm, was a power skating instructor for the New York Islanders
  • On Oct. 30, 1993, goaltender Erin Whitten made history by becoming first woman ever to record a victory in a professional hockey game. As a member of the East Coast Hockey League’s Toledo Storm, she posted a 6-5 win against the Dayton Bombers. In 1994, Erin Whitten, is the recipient of the first-ever USA Hockey Women’s Hockey Player of the Year Award. On March 7, 1996, Erin Whitten becomes the first women to appear in a professional hockey game in a position other than goaltender as a member of the Colonial Hockey League’s Flint Generals, she played at forward for 18 seconds in a game against the Madison Monsters.


Sarah Devens AwardEdit

Year Player School
1996-97 Kathryn Waldo[22]Northeastern
1997-98 Sarah HoodDartmouth
1998-99 Jaime TottenNortheastern
1999-2000 Carrie JokielNew Hampshire
2000-01 Christina SorbaraBrown
2001-02 Dianna BellCornell
2002-03 Rachel BarrieSt. Lawrence
2003-04Lindsay Charlebois Harvard
2004-05 Nicole Corriero Harvard
2005-06 Karen Thatcher [23]Providence
2006-07 Lindsay Williams Clarkson
2007-08 Lizzie Keady[24] Princeton
2008-09 Marianna Locke [25] St. Lawrence
2009-10 Laura Gersten[26] Rensselaer

Minnesota Ms. Hockey AwardEdit

Year Player School
2010 Bethany Brausen[27]Roseville Area
2009 Becky Kortum Hopkins
2008 Sarah EricksonBemidji
2007 Katharine ChuteBlake
2006 Allie Thunstrom North St. Paul
2005 Gigi MarvinWarroad
2004 Erica McKenzieHastings
2003 Andrea NicholsHibbing/Chisholm
2002 Ashley AlbrechtSouth St. Paul
2001 Renee CurtinRoseville
2000 Krissy Wendell Park Center
1999 Ronda Curtin Roseville
1998 Laura SlominskiBurnsville
1997 Annamarie HolmesApple Valley
1996 Winny BrodtRoseville


Patty Kazmaier AwardEdit

Year Winner Position School
1998 Brandy Fisher forward New Hampshire
1999 A.J. Mleczko forward Harvard
2000 Ali Brewer goaltender Brown
2001 Jennifer Botterill forward Harvard
2002 Brooke Whitney forward Northeastern
2003 Jennifer Botterill forward Harvard
2004 Angela Ruggiero defense Harvard
2005 Krissy Wendell forward Minnesota
2006 Sara Bauer forward Wisconsin
2007 Julie Chu forward Harvard
2008 Sarah Vaillancourt forward Harvard
2009 Jessie Vetter Goaltender Wisconsin
2010 Vicki Bendus Forward Mercyhurst College

USA Hockey Women's Player of the Year AwardEdit

Year Winner
1995 Karyn Bye
1996 Cammi Granato
1997 Laurie Baker
1998 Karyn Bye
1999 A.J. Mleczko
2000 Sara DeCosta-Hayes
2001 Krissy Wendell
2002 Sara DeCosta-Hayes
2003 Angela Ruggiero
2004 Angela Ruggiero
2005 Natalie Darwitz
2006 Katie King
2007 Julie Chu
2008Caitlin Cahow
2009 Jessie Vetter
2010 Jenny Potter


Other awardsEdit

  • Krissy Wendell, 2005 Bob Johnson Award
  • Natalie Darwitz, 2008 Bob Johnson Award
  • 2009 U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team, 2009 Bob Johnson Award
  • 2009 U.S. Women's National Team, 2009 Bob Johnson Award[30]

International TournamentsEdit

The following women's ice hockey tournaments (featuring teams from other nations) were contested in the United States.

Year Tournament Location Winner
1994 1994 Women's World Ice Hockey Championships Lake Placid, New York Canada women's national ice hockey team
1995 1995 Women's Pacific Rim Championship San Jose, California Canada women's national ice hockey team
2001 2001 Women's World Ice Hockey Championships Minneapolis, Minnesota Canada women's national ice hockey team
2002 Ice hockey at the 2002 Winter Olympics Salt Lake City, Utah Canada women's national ice hockey team
2010 2010 IIHF World Women's U18 Championship Chicago, Illinois Canada women's national ice hockey team

Famous FirstsEdit

Number of registered playersEdit

  • 1990–91: USA Hockey counts 2,700 women participating in ice hockey.
  • 1993–94: USA Hockey count reveals that the number of women participants has increased to 6,300
  • 1997–98: Compared to four years ago, USA Hockey now reports 23,010 female players.
  • 1998: Women's ice hockey becomes an Olympic medal sport at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, with the U.S. women winning the gold medal.
  • 2005: The number of U.S. female hockey players reaches 52,469. [34]

See alsoEdit


  1. About GirlsWomens' Hockey. Alaska State Hockey. Retrieved on 24 June 2010.
  5. Ivy Women’s Hockey. Ivy Women in Sports: profiles of women from the Ivy League’s history (February 22, 2007). Retrieved on 16 April 2010.
  6. Ivy Women’s Hockey. Ivy Women in Sports: profiles of women from the Ivy League’s history (February 22, 2007). Retrieved on 16 April 2010.
  7. Ivy Women’s Hockey. Ivy Women in Sports: profiles of women from the Ivy League’s history (February 22, 2007). Retrieved on 16 April 2010.
  8. Patty Kazmaier Award. USA Hockey. Retrieved on 16 April 2010.
  9. Katey Stone. Harvard Crimson Athletics. Retrieved on 16 April 2010.
  10. ATHLETIC AWARDS, Elliott and Mallory Awards: Varsity Sports. Yale Bulletin and Calendar. Retrieved on 16 April 2010.
  11. John R. Hein (June 9, 2005). FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Nicole Corriero '05, Hockey. The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved on 16 April 2010.
  12. [ WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP 2004 National Collegiate]. Retrieved on 16 April 2010.
  13. Randy Starkman (March 29, 2010). Whitecaps swamp Thunder to win Clarkson Cup. Toronto Star. Retrieved on 4 April 2010.
  14. Women on Ice: The Early Years of Women's Hockey in Western Canada, Wayne Norton, p.120, Ronsdale Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-55380-073-6
  15. Women on Ice: The Early Years of Women's Hockey in Western Canada, Wayne Norton, p.115, Ronsdale Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-55380-073-6
  16. Women on Ice: The Early Years of Women's Hockey in Western Canada, Wayne Norton, p.119, Ronsdale Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-55380-073-6
  17. Women on Ice: The Early Years of Women's Hockey in Western Canada, Wayne Norton, p.119, Ronsdale Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-55380-073-6
  18. History of the Women’s Game. USA Hockey. Retrieved on 24 June 2010.
  19. Albert Chen (2 December 2002). Hot Stuff. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 24 June 2010.
  20. Albert Chen (2 December 2002). Hot Stuff. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 24 June 2010.
  21. Pat Borzi. It's time U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inducts its first woman. Retrieved on 23 June 2010.
  22. Kathryn Waldo, 33; her grit and skates propelled NU team. (April 11, 2006). Retrieved on 11 May 2010.
  23. Karen Thatcher wins prestigious Sarah Devens Award. Hockey East (April 11, 2006). Retrieved on 11 May 2010.
  24. Keady Wins 2008 Sarah Devens Award. ECAC Hockey. Retrieved on 11 May 2010.
  25. April 3, 2009. Locke Named Sarah Devens Award Winner. ECAC Hockey. Retrieved on 11 May 2010.
  26. May 6, 2010. Gersten Named Sarah Devens Award Winner. ECAC Hockey. Retrieved on 11 May 2010.
  29. Annual Awards - Through the Years. USA Hockey. Retrieved on 24 June 2010.
  30. 2009 USA Hockey Annual Award Winners. USA Hockey. Retrieved on 24 June 2010.
  31. A Well Oiled Machine. Ivy League Sports (February 1, 2005). Retrieved on 9 April 2010.
  34. Angela Ruggiero. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved on 9 April 2010.
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