IRVINE, Calif. -- Opening new doors is just what referee Katie Guay does. This year alone, she has been a part of the first all-female officiating crew at the 2019 Women's Frozen Four in March, and was the first woman to officiate the long-standing men's Beanpot Championship in February.
This weekend, Guay made history yet again. She was one of four women officials selected to officiate NHL rookie tournaments - something never done before in the history of the league. Guay, along with referee Kelly Cooke and linesmen Kirsten Welsh and Kendall Hanley, have officiated rookie games in Irvine, Buffalo, Nashville and Traverse City.
Guay, 37, was assigned the 2019 Anaheim Rookie Faceoff at Great Park Ice. She always wondered if this day would come, and as she stepped onto the ice for the first time Saturday afternoon, in a game between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, the possibility became a reality.
Following the conclusion of her second game Sunday afternoon between the Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes, Guay took a few moments to share her experience. "It's been great," the easy-going Westfield, Massachusetts native says. "Certainly having the chance to get out there and get a couple of games under my belt is giving me a little bit more confidence. The experience has been great so far. Definitely some fast hockey. Fun to be out there."
It's been a whirlwind lately for Guay, who last month took part in the NHL Exposure Combine - similar in look and feel to the NHL Scouting Combine - but for prospective officials. Of the 96 officials who took part in the combine, 30 were selected to work the rookie tournaments, including Guay, Cooke, Hanley and Welsh.
"They ran us through pretty much a preseason training that NHL officials go through," Guay recalls. "Off-ice and on-ice testing. We were able to get out there and officiate some games. That was three days."
It wasn't until the end of the combine when she was given her newest assignment. "It was super exciting," she says. "Having the chance to go to the combine was an experience in itself. To be able to take it the next step further is huge. Happy to be here. Happy to say I've done a couple games."
Make no mistake, Guay is a proven veteran when it comes to officiating. She's been doing it for 14 years, and her highly-decorated resume includes officiating women's hockey at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. She also officiates men's and women's NCAA Division 1 hockey games and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournaments.
She didn't turn to officiating until after her playing career at Brown University came to an end in 2005. Despite playing in a women's league back home, Guay felt something was missing. "When my playing days came to an end, I missed being at the rink and officiating was a great way to stay on the ice and be back in the game," she said in this article posted on NHL.com.
In addition to playing four years of college hockey at Brown (and earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in business economics and psychology), Guay is a former member of the U.S. Women's Under-22 Team. She also spent eight years at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts working in the development office and serving as an assistant coach for the girls varsity hockey team.
These days, Guay serves as Director, Philanthropy for USA Hockey, leading the USA Hockey Foundation's prospecting and donor relationship-building efforts in the Northeast.
"Across the board, we're looking for more officials at all levels," Guay says. "To be able to be out there, for girls to see that this is an option, is huge."
Guay hopes her journey serves as inspiration. What seemed like an unattainable goal not so long ago is now within reach.
"My goal has always been to do the Olympics, and I had the chance to do that last year," she says. "I'd never set my sights for the NHL. The new phrase going around is 'If you can see it, you can be it.' I never really knew it was a possibility. Now having the chance to go to the combine and then be here, it's certainly a new opportunity for women. I hope young girls can see it as a possibility for them."