History will be made this weekend on the ice when the first-ever Para Ice Hockey Women’s World Challenge presented by Citi takes place in Green Bay, Wisconsin in the USA.
From 26-28 August four teams — Canada, Great Britain and a Team World comprised of athletes from different nations — will compete in a round-robin style tournament followed by a medal round.
All women's competition
The event will serve as a major stepping stone on the road to an eventual Women’s World Championship, with the ultimate goal of expanding female participation in Para ice hockey worldwide and adding it to the Paralympic Winter Games programme.
“This is a really exciting experience. This is definitely 13 years in the making so we’re all really excited to touch the ice and be ready to play,” said Erica McKee, a long-standing member of Team USA and wife of three-time Paralympic champion Para ice hockey player Kevin McKee.
The tournament will take place at Green Bay’s Cornerstone Community Center, which was built in 2000 as an ice hockey and skating venue, and has held several large events including a dog show, roller derby and the U.S. National Curling Championships.
It will be sponsored by Citi as part of the IPC’s new PARA SPORT grassroots to high performance programme, which aims to change the narrative around people with disabilities and provide Para athletes and their member organisations with a platform to drive social progress.
Additionally, for the very first time, there will be an all-women’s officiating crew at a World Para Ice Hockey event, as all eight International Technical Officials taking to the ice will be women.
USA challenging Canada
The first day of round-robin play will kick off Friday at the Cornerstone Community Center with Great Britain facing Team World at 15:00.
“We are going to go into each game positive and do our best. One of the comments coming off the ice (Wednesday) was how far we’ve come in such a short span of time,” said Great Britain’s player Shannon Couch, who is representing a team that was only construed one year ago.
That opening matchup will be followed by USA challenging Canada at 18:30.
“We have a super new team this year so it’s exciting to watch all the rookies train very hard and we’re ready to go and fired up,” said Canadian veteran player Alannah Mah “It makes me excited to see the growth of the game since I started when I was 14 until now when I’m 22.”
The teams will all have two more round-robin games on Saturday before the medal round on Sunday.
Increasing opportunities for women in Para ice hockey, whether it be in the athlete development pipeline, coaching community or officiating world, is a key priority in the World Para Ice Hockey strategic plan and hence the reason for having a Team World be a part of the competition.
“This is my biggest opportunity I’ve ever had, said Latvian athlete Dina Grinberga, who will be playing on Team World. “I’m ready to learn a lot and I think we are going to have so much fun doing this as Team World.”
All games will be streamed live on World Para Ice Hockey’s website and Facebook page.
More information about the teams, complete schedule and results can be found on the Green Bay 2022 microsite.