Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Kirsten Welsh will become the first woman linesperson in OHL history when she takes the ice tonight in OHL Pre-Season action between the host Mississauga Steelheads and visiting Guelph Storm.
Originally from Blackstock, Ont., Welsh will also work Friday’s pre-season game between the host Oshawa Generals and visiting Windsor Spitfires. She will be a member of the OHL Officiating Team for the 2021-22 season after attending the NHL Officiating Exposure Combine this past August in Buffalo, NY.
“This is an incredible opportunity and I can’t really put into words what it feels like to be working in the Ontario Hockey League,” said Welsh. “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.
“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, 24, resides in Freedom, Pennsylvania after graduating as captain of the Robert Morris University women’s NCAA hockey program where she patrolled the blue line from 2015-19, recording 91 points (34-57—91) over 128 regular season games. A graduate of the Whitby Wolves Women’s Hockey Program, her collegiate career included several awards and honours including being named the 2018 CHA Defender of the Year.
In September 2019, 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 held at the LECOM Harborcenter. She also worked the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 event at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, MO.
“We first met Kirsten at the NHL Exposure Combine in 2019 and we were immediately impressed by her presence on the ice,” said OHL Director of Officiating Conrad Haché. “She approaches and prepares for each game in a professional way, is a great skater and has a tremendous desire to continually improve. These traits will not only make her a great OHL official, but also a great ambassador for our League.”
“On behalf of the OHL and its member teams, I’d like to extend a warm welcome and congratulate Kirsten Welsh on the accomplishment of joining the OHL Officiating Team,” said Commissioner David Branch. “Kirsten has demonstrated an ability to officiate the game at a high level and we’re excited to see her break barriers as she continues her development as a linesperson in the OHL.”
Welsh, who 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, will take the ice tonight in Mississauga for her first official OHL assignment at 7:00pm.
About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.