Kirsten Welsh became the first woman to officiate an Ontario Hockey League game on Thursday night.
The Blackstock, Ont., native who now calls Freedom, Pennsylvania home, took the ice as a linesperson in a pre-season game between the Mississauga Steelheads and Guelph Storm.
Welsh is scheduled to be a member of the OHL officiating team for the 2021-22 season and will also work Friday’s exhibition match between the Oshawa Generals and Windsor Spitfires.
“Just being one of the first women to do this, it really opens that door to women in hockey who want to have an alternate avenue that maybe isn’t playing in the Premier Hockey Federation or playing on a national team,” said Welsh.
“Being an advocate and having this opportunity, I just feel so lucky,” she added. “It’s an incredible process to be a part of. I’m so lucky I can be a part of something that is going to affect generations of little girls.”
Welsh played college hockey at Robert Morris University, recording 91 points over 128 regular season games. She was named the 2018 CHA Defender of the Year.
Welsh became one of four women to officiate at the NHL level for the first time, working in the Buffalo Sabres’ pre-season prospects tournament in September 2019. She also worked the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 event at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.
Welsh has spent the past year officiating throughout Pennsylvania covering NCAA Division III hockey as well as the NAPHL, Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League and Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League.
— NHL (@NHL) March 29, 2020