Cheers to the NHL for including women’s ice hockey players as part of the NHL All-Star festivities in Ottawa, Canada. Five highly decorated players participated, giving many fans a tremendous experience, while helping to raise awareness for the game.
Canadians Tessa Bonhomme, Jennifer Botterill, Caroline Ouellette and Meaghan Mikkelson Reid, along with American goaltender Jessie Vetter (who have ten Winter Games medals combined, along with seven NCAA Frozen Four titles, and too many World Championships and Four Nations gold medals to count), all took part. Bonhomme was part of an autograph session with Anaheim Ducks player Corey Perry at an autograph signing (at 1 pm on January 28) sponsored by ScotiaBank.
Bonhonme was gracious in answering fan questions, and stood out as a role model, giving girls advice on how to never give up, and the role her family played in supporting her dreams. She also shared her own experiences on playing hockey for Ohio State, and what it was like to play against Hockey Canada teammates in the CWHL. As an announcer for Leafs TV, and a champion on Battle of the Blades, Bonhomme is a hero for girls everywhere.
Caroline Ouellette (with the Montreal Stars of the CWHL), and Meaghan Mikkelson Reid (with Team Alberta of the CWHL) were on hand on Friday, January 27 at 8:30 pm as part of an interview with Sirius XM Radio at the Fan Fair. After the interview session, both players showed a touch of class by staying an extra half hour to sign autographs, and pose for pictures with devoted fans.
The following day (Saturday, January 28), Jennifer Botterill (four time Winter Games medallist for Canada) and Jessie Vetter (Winter Games silver medallist for USA, NCAA Frozen Four champion) participated in the Sirius XM Radio interview at the Fan Fair. Like their predecessors the evening prior, both took extra time to sign autographs and take photos with fans. Botterill had an extra treat for the fans by bringing her gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
More importantly, having Botterill and Vetter on stage together helped to defuse the Canada – US rivalry. Having the same goals and dreams as any other athlete, Vetter showed a warm, friendly side to her. In addition, she talked about how important the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games were to her and women’s hockey in general. With more and more Canadian women playing NCAA hockey, and the CWHL now playing in Boston, the Canada – US rivalry will grow into one based on friendship and respect.
These frozen female legends also took the time to participate in the Energizer Night Skate at the Ottawa Rink of Dreams, and attended the Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday night. Mikkelson Reid and Botterill were also at Rideau Hall for an NHL event.
A big thank you must go to said Susan Cohig, the NHL's Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing, along with Jennifer Raimondi, the NHL Sr. Manager of Communications. By including women’s ice hockey at these types of events, the NHL is helping to provide a platform to raise awareness about the women’s game. It also gives fans that are nascent to women’s hockey an opportunity to meet the players and appreciate their struggles and successes.