Growth of women’s hockey leads to remarkable contributions from female photographers

As the sport of women’s hockey has grown by a quantum leap since the introduction of women’s hockey at the 1998 Nagano Winter games, one of the areas where women have started to break through is in the traditionally male dominated field of sports photography.

While the budding Canadian Women’s Hockey League has seen male photographers such as Dave Holland, Richard Scott, Pasquale Stalteri and Brandon Taylor contribute some remarkable shots; there is also a group of women that have helped to capture the grit and determination of the fearless, frozen females of the rink.

(Left to right) CJ Ireland, Lyne Landry, Jessica Moffatt and Mandi Duhamel represent a former era of Ottawa women's hockey captured by Krista Windsor

(Left to right) CJ Ireland, Lyne Landry, Jessica Moffatt and Mandi Duhamel represent a former era of Ottawa women’s hockey captured by Krista Windsor

Among them was Ottawa’s Krista Windsor. One of the first women to contribute superlative photos of the CWHL’s finest in action, her work helped to provide the now defunct Ottawa Lady Senators with a pictorial history of its contribution to sport in Canada’s capital region.

Monica Dupuis releases a wrist shot while Brampton's Bobbi-Jo Slusar tries to defend at Ottawa's Carleton Ice House. Photo by: Krista Windsor

Monica Dupuis releases a wrist shot while Brampton’s Bobbi-Jo Slusar tries to defend at Ottawa’s Carleton Ice House. Photo by: Krista Windsor

Possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of the game, the opportunity to contribute with the Ottawa Senators was a labor of love. Having also taken nature and wildlife shots, Windsor has a keen eye for detail.

Windsor’s shots are an invaluable archive which helped to commemorate an era of women’s hockey in Ottawa that was gone too soon. The efforts of Lady Senators such as Kendra Antony, Robyn Rittmaster, and Danika Smith are captured masterfully through the lens of Windsor. For a generation of women that worked towards establishing a new era of women’s hockey in Ottawa, Windsor’s superlative photos are the ones these hockey pioneers shall likely show their grandchildren one day.

Based out of Montreal, Jess Desjardins’ work behind the lens is helping to only enhance the status of the CWHL’s Montreal Stars as one of the world’s finest women’s hockey franchises. Adding a major league feel to the contests at Etienne-Desmarteau Arena, Jess Desjardins is establishing herself as one of the finest women’s hockey photographers.

Jess Desjardins at the 2013 Clarkson Cup (Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jess-Desjardins-Film-Photo/117476751726656)

Jess Desjardins at the 2013 Clarkson Cup (Image obtained from: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jess-Desjardins-Film-Photo/117476751726656)

Of note, she was also part of two remarkable hockey events in 2013; the Clarkson Cup in Markham, Ontario, known as the Stanley Cup of women’s hockey and the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Ottawa. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that one of her photos was selected to be the cover of the Clarkson Cup souvenir program. To have an image selected for a magazine cover is certainly one of the finest compliments that a photographer can have.

Caroline Ouellette (left) and Dangerous Dominique Thibault were photographed by Desjardins. The image would make the cover of the 2013 Clarkson Cup program.

Caroline Ouellette (left) and Dangerous Dominique Thibault were photographed by Desjardins. The image would make the cover of the 2013 Clarkson Cup program.

Having grown up in Montreal, Desjardins is also a filmmaker contributing to videography with the Stars as well. With a past as an instructor and technician at Recording Arts Canada, she has also done freelance work as a sound recordist. Fluent in English, French and Spanish, she has certainly found her niche immortalizing the action which features the wondrous women that compete for the Stars.

Quickly emerging as the definitive photographer for hockey in New England, Melissa Wade captures more than just the excitement of women’s hockey. Seeing the frozen perimeter of the rink through her lens, she has also become a fixture at National Hockey League and American Hockey League contests.

Having covered both NCAA men’s and women’s competition, along with the CWHL’s Boston Blades, her presence adds a feeling of importance. For generations of collegiate hockey players, her images capture a moment in time in which the highly conditioned athletes gracing the ice have a feeling of indestructibility and an ambition to excel at the game with a pure love for the game.

Boston College captains Corinne Boyles (left) and Meagan Mangene celebrate a 5-1 home win over  the Maine Black Bears on October 6, 2013,  their Hockey East season opener at Kelley Rink. Photo by Melissa Wade

Boston College captains Corinne Boyles (left) and Meagan Mangene celebrate a 5-1 home win over the Maine Black Bears on October 6, 2013, their Hockey East season opener at Kelley Rink. Photo by Melissa Wade

Originally from Memphis, Wade calls Boston home. Her first exposure to photographing hockey came at the New Jersey Devils training camp several autumns ago. Motivated by the fact that early online searches resulted in less than a dozen or so photos of her favorite players, Wade began a website and fulfilled the need to accommodate other fans looking for photos also.

Employing a style that covers everyone on the ice and not just superstars, it has resulted in a terrific database which provides fans of all levels of hockey a unique view of the game. With the advent of social media, it has served as a remarkable tool for others to appreciate her devotion to the game.

With an archive of over 25,000 photos, Wade has created a visual diary, a time capsule that shall be treasured in the years to come. For fans of ECAC Hockey and Hockey East women’s hockey, she is the premier authority when it comes to capturing their glorious actions on ice.

Having revolutionized women’s hockey through the concept of a charitable pin-up calendar, the Vancouver Ice-O-Topes became an international sensation, while using proceeds to assist less fortunate teenagers in East Vancouver. Conceived by Topes member and fantastic photographer Rebecca Blissett, her unique vision and talent shone in the inaugural edition of the calendar.

Employed as a professional photographer, Blissett has had her work featured in Elle magazine, People, Spin, Metal Hammer, Peace, The Globe and Mail and the National Post. In addition, Vancouver-based entertainment magazine the Georgia Straight features many of her photos as she captures the zeitgeist of the Vancouver music scene.

Through the lens of Blissett, Ice-O-Topes player Tara Loseth recreates Paul Henderson’s goal against Russia in the Summit Series, one of the most iconic moments in hockey history. (Photo credit: Rebecca Blissett)

Through the lens of Blissett, Ice-O-Topes player Tara Loseth recreates Paul Henderson’s goal against Russia in the Summit Series, one of the most iconic moments in hockey history. (Photo credit: Rebecca Blissett)

Of note, her earliest experiences photographing hockey came while she sat in the penalty box shooting Junior A hockey. With a specialization in creative portraiture along with promotional shots for musicians and CD artwork, Blissett was the key to creating a set of tasteful yet powerful pin-up portraits that captured women’s hockey players in an unprecedented fashion.

Released in 2010, the first edition of the calendar sold out quickly, resulting in television appearances, including a popular talk show in Brazil. Other releases would follow annually up to 2013.

Creativity was a strong element in every edition of the Topes groundbreaking calendars. For the 2013 edition, classic hockey moments were reproduced with the Topes unique style. Throughout, Blissett has emerged as the creative genius bringing the worlds of glamour, athleticism and art into an amalgam of visual perfection.

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