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Hockey & Heels Capitalizes on Growth of the Sport

by Alexis Tahara / Nashville Predators

Even before the Toronto Hockey Club and Montreal Wanderers laced up their skates for the first-ever NHL game in 1917, women have had one of the most important jobs in all of hockey, the mom.

Beyond even that initial and foundational role in the sport, hockey has grown and flourished in recent years, and the role of women has expanded in the sport.

The Nashville Predators and many other teams, have female reporters covering the team for television or newspaper outlets and women representation on the rosters of front office staff. In 2012, the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Barbara Underhill as the team’s skating coach. At the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, the American and Canadian women’s teams’ overtime thriller in the Gold medal game captured the attention of not only their two nations, but also the hockey world.

However, anytime there is growth, there are questions that need to be answered, and who better to answer these questions than those at the center of the action. On Monday, Nov. 24, the Predators Fan Development department will host Hockey and Heels presented by Hermitage Lighting Gallery, an opportunity for women of all ages and interest levels to grow and expand their knowledge of the game in a fun evening filled with drinks, hors d'oeurves, on-ice demonstrations and more.

As youth hockey participation in Tennessee continues to grow at a fast pace, Hockey and Heels is a great event for the all-important hockey mom to learn about the sport her sons and daughters are playing, or perhaps trying for the first time, through other Preds initiatives like Get out and Learn! or Try Hockey for Free sessions.

“Hockey is a team sport and your kids learn so much; there’s discipline and dedication involved,” Michelle Nystrom, mother of Preds forward Eric Nystrom, said. “It’s not the kind of sport where you can just go out and play it, there’s a lot that goes into hockey.”

Mrs. Nystrom, who didn’t grow up knowing the sport of hockey and learned the game through her high school and young adult years, knows firsthand how much a mom is involved in the life of a young hockey player.

“In my experience, the moms are always at the rink, from the early to late hours,” Nystrom said. “The Moms are always involved. As far back as I can remember, they’re at all the games, they’re tying the skates and doing all those things.”

At Hockey and Heels, participants will be treated to a “Hockey 101” session with members of the Preds broadcast teams, learning about topics from the basic rules of the game to some of the strategy behind faceoffs and line changes.

“I love this event because hockey is not, stereotypically, a sport that women are interested in as much,” Nashville Predators Rinkside Reporter on Fox Sports Tennessee Lyndsay Rowley said. “Ladies in attendance will be able to ask questions about every aspect of the game… Everything from rules and strategy to questions about the broadcast. It’s a great way to get women involved in the sport.”

Rowley, who will take part in a question and answer session at Hockey and Heels, is in the midst of her first season with the Predators organization and is excited to share her love for the game and some behind-the-scenes stories that fans don’t get to see on television or from their seats at the rink.

“There aren’t very many things within the sport of hockey that are geared toward women and this is a great opportunity to go to something that is,” Rowley said. “It isn’t an opportunity that comes along very often, so it’s definitely something you want to take advantage of.”

Tickets for Hockey and Heels presented by Hermitage Lighting Gallery are still available and can be purchased for $50. The price includes: Hockey 101 with members of the Preds broadcast teams, on-ice demonstrations with Preds players, a question and answer session with Lyndsay Rowley, drinks and hors d’oeurves in the Lexus Lounge, door prizes and an upper-level ticket to an upcoming Predators home game.

For more information, or to purchase a ticket, visit www.nashvillepredators.com/hockeyandheels.

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