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Girls Take Center Stage in St. Paul

By Greg Bates - Special to, 12/22/16, 1:00PM MST


Minnesota Wild Girls Hockey Weekend delights at Xcel Energy Center

The smiles on their faces said it all.

The 180 girls and women who participated in the first Minnesota Wild Girls Hockey Weekend enjoyed their chance to get on the ice, hone their skills, and receive hands-on instruction from some of the sport’s top players. The Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Hockey, Minnesota Whitecaps, Schwan’s and USA Hockey all collaborated to put on the event at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Dec. 16-18.

“It was awesome; it was really awesome,” said Jess Christopherson, who helped lead the clinic portions of the event and is the Wayzata (Minn.) High School girls’ hockey coach. She also serves as Minnesota Hockey’s district associate coach-in-chief for female coach development.

“We’re really blessed to have our NHL team stand behind it and not only open up their venue, but sponsor the event and provide some of these resources for us with staffing and everything else ... That’s how you pull something like this off.”

Three-time U.S. Olympian Natalie Darwitz, former University of Minnesota women’s hockey coach and current Minnesota Whitecaps coach Laura Halldorson, and Kristen Wright, USA Hockey manager of girls’ player development, all participated in the event.

“It was fantastic to see the Wild, Minnesota Hockey, and the Whitecaps come together to celebrate girls’ hockey,” Wright said. “There was an exciting energy surrounding the weekend, and it is always great to see so many girls and women gathered at the Xcel Energy Center to play hockey. Having the Minnesota Whitecaps and all female coaches on the ice during the clinics gave the players positive female role models to look up to.”

Said Christopherson: “Super cool opportunity for those kids to get to play for female coaches. We didn’t have those opportunities 20 years ago.”

Having the Whitecaps, who are a professional women’s hockey team, offer some of their players as instructors made a huge impact on the young skaters and showed them that, if they work hard, playing at a high level is an achievable dream.

“I think it’s awesome for them to come out and see female role models that are in the position that they want to be in, whether that be older players or coaches or Olympians or professional players,” Christopherson said.

Story continues below event video.

The weekend began Friday with Darwitz becoming the first female skater to ever practice with the Wild.

On Saturday, young girls hockey players were able to watch the Wild beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1. The flag bearer for the game was a female, Darwitz announced the traditional “Let’s play hockey” to the crowd and Whitecaps players participated during in-game activities. After the game, fans were able to watch the United States Women’s National Team compete against the Canadian Women’s National Team in the Team USA Champions Series live on the arena’s video board. That night, there were separate clinics for 8U and 10U girls, along with dryland training in the concourse for 10U skaters.

On the final day, 12U girls took part in a clinic, followed by a session for adult women ages 19 and over.

Maple Grove native Natalie Heising, a two-time member of the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team (2016 and 2017) helped with the clinics.

“Giving back to the hockey community here in Minnesota is important to me, because I learned from clinics growing up, so having the opportunity to participate now provides me with the chance to help develop the future generation of girls hockey players; to be part of something bigger than myself,” said Heising. “I enjoy seeing the girls game grow and seeing more girls have the opportunity to participate in an event geared toward both on- and off-ice hockey development.”

Each hour-long clinic implemented USA Hockey’s American Development Model.

“That’s the best way you can make a practice work with that many players,” Christopherson said. “Obviously, we want kids moving and not standing around, and we want them touching the puck as much as possible. We divided into six stations and we handled most of the major development categories. We had skating and passing and shooting and agility and we had some competitive battle, small-area games going on in some of the stations. It was really good for them to experience a variety of things, and like I said, they were moving the entire hour. Lots of sweaty faces when they came off the ice, but lots of smiles, too.”

One of the big draws for the players was being able to play at the Xcel Energy Center, which is the home arena for the Wild.

“That’s a serious highlight for any player, including our coaches and everybody else — it’s an amazing venue,” Christopherson said. “Playing with all these other girls in their own age groups, playing with girls from different communities and then being coached by female leaders in their sport and people that have played at a high level is huge.”

Running Girls Hockey Weekend is something Christopherson would love to continue to help the growth of girls’ hockey.

“The goal going forward is obviously to expand and try to offer more opportunities,” Christopherson said. “You’re going to start seeing more and more girls’ events or clinics or camps or education. You’re going to start seeing a lot more of that stuff in Minnesota.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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QUESTIONA player was escorted off the ice with one minute left in the game, but he was only given a minor penalty for Roughing. I thought you only escorted a kid off the ice for a game misconduct. Can you escort them off the ice for a minor penalty if there is less than two minutes left in the game?

ANSWER: Occasionally, game officials or coaches will send penalized players directly to the dressing room late in a game if the player’s penalty time outlasts the time remaining in the game. Especially, if they feel the player will become a “target” to opponents after the game, or if they feel the player might continue his poor behavior after the game.


QUESTIONTeam A and Team B have non coincidental minor penalties and are playing 4 on 4. Team B has a delayed penalty and team A scores. What happens to the delayed penalty?

ANSWER: If while both teams are playing at even-strength, the non-offending team scores during a delayed (minor) penalty, the delayed minor penalty is recorded (on the scoresheet) but not served. Both minors currently being served are not affected. Play resumes 4 v. 4.


QUESTIONDuring the course of play, the goalkeeper loses a glove just before an imminent scoring chance, and the potential for injury is present. Two questions: a) The glove comes off on its own, because of goalie movement. Can the official use discretion to end play? Is it mandated? b) The glove comes off due to contact with an opposing player. Can the official use discretion to end play? Is it mandated? The result of play is a goal on a goalie without a glove.

ANSWER: Situation #1 under Rule 304 in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states:

“What action should the referee take when the goalkeeper loses one of his gloves during play?

Keeping safety as the primary consideration, the referee should stop play whenever the goalkeeper loses a glove and is in a vulnerable position UNLESS there is an imminent scoring opportunity in which play should be allowed to continue until the imminent scoring opportunity has passed. Rule References 304(a & e).

If the Referee judges the goalkeeper has deliberately removed any equipment during play he should assess the offending goalkeeper a ‘Delay of Game’ minor penalty.”


QUESTION: I have safe sport and registered with USA hockey as an ice manager volunteer. Am I able to be on the bench with a coach to open doors.

ANSWERRule 201 in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

“Each team shall designate on the scoresheet a Head Coach prior to the start of the game. The Head Coach shall be in control of and responsible for the actions of all team personnel, including players.

A team may have up to four Team Officials on the players’ bench. Only players in uniform and properly rostered Team Officials may occupy the players’ bench."

We recommend reaching out to your Youth Hockey Association and District Registrar for more information regarding your membership and what needs to be done to be able to be on the bench.


QUESTIONIn a youth game a player is assessed the following penalties: a major for slashing, a minor for roughing and a minor for unsportsmanlike behavior, a total of nine minutes. The penalties were all called at the early part of a 12-minute period. How many players are placed in the penalty box?

ANSWER: If one player is assessed nine minutes in penalties (all minors or majors) all at one time, the offending player enters the penalty bench, nine minutes are added to the penalty clock and the teams play 5 v. 4 for the next nine minutes (assuming no other penalties are assessed or goals are scored during the next nine minutes).


The USA Hockey Playing Rules are now available as a mobile device app! Check your Apple, Android, or Windows app store to download this playing rule app free of charge.

Check out the USA Hockey mobile-friendly online rulebook application! Enter into your mobile device’s web browser to gain instant access to the USA Hockey Playing Rules (must have mobile or internet service).

The USA Hockey Playing Rules Casebook and other educational material can be found under the OFFICIALS tab at