Team USA smash attendance record in ground-breaking year for women's ice hockey
Team USA’s thrilling 4-3 win over Team Canada in Anaheim was a record-smashing affair for women’s ice hockey.
The 13,320 fans who witnessed Megan Bozek put the overtime winner past Canada’s Geneviéve Lacasse made up the largest crowd to attend a home game in the US national team’s history.
It was a significant increase on the 10,158 who gathered to watch the long-time adversaries face off in Detroit in 2002.
Though the Americans ultimately won the five-game Rivalry Series between the two sides, taking four of five games from their northern neighbours, many saw the event as another watershed moment in a groundbreaking year for the women’s game.
Team Canada winger Sarah Nurse said: “We came out for warm-ups and it was rocking. There was an incredible atmosphere tonight.
“I think it just speaks to people wanting to see women’s hockey.”
American captain Kendall Coyne Schofield agreed.
She said: “Together we’re breaking barriers, we’re setting records, and I think it was worth the price of admission tonight.
“The Anaheim Ducks set the tone, they set the market and they proved to the rest of the NHL clubs that you can host a women’s hockey game and you can sell it.”
Coyne Schofield made history last year when she became the first woman to compete in the NHL’s All-Star Skills competition after she was called in as a last-minute replacement for injured Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon.
Earlier, in a fastest skater demonstration, the Olympic gold-medallist posted a time of 14.226 seconds, quicker than three of her male counterparts in 2018.
During the competition proper, with the boisterous crowd clearly behind her, Coyne Schofield finished seventh out of eight posting a time of 14.346 seconds.
The NHL recognised the buzz created by Coyne Schofield’s historic skate and this year introduced a women’s three-on-three competition during its annual All-Star Game in January.
Nurse and Coyne Schofield were among the elite American and Canadian skaters showcased on the 10-woman rosters for each country.
“It was a really heartfelt moment,” said Team Canada forward Hilary Knight after the game. We made history here."