In what continues to be a banner year for Hilary Knight, she continues to ride the wave of momentum by participating in a practice with the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks. After the 2014 Sochi Winter Games (where Knight emerged with a sliver medal), there was speculation that Knight would possibly compete against men at the Division III level in Sweden.
Knight joins the company of other women’s hockey forwards that have been involved with the NHL. Back in 1998, Hayley Wickenheiser attended the Philadelphia Flyers rookie camp. In the autumn of 2013, Fannie Desforges and Dominique Thibault were among a group of Montreal Stars that took part in a practice that was open to the public from the Montreal Canadiens.
Taking into account that the Ducks have engaged in a week-long campaign with a focus on girls hockey, it was only fitting that Knight was involved. As a side note, IIHF World Girls Hockey Weekend takes place on October 11 and 12. In a year that has seen Knight grace the pages of ESPN’s Body Issue, appear on NBC television and have her own trading card issued by Topps, she has emerged as the It Girl for United States women’s hockey.
After participating in an October 3 practice session with the Ducks, Knight took part in a meet-and-greet prior to the Ducks match with state-rival San Jose on October 4. It was part of the Ducks’ Girls Play Hockey Night at Honda Center. In addition to an autograph session, Knight also took part in a ceremonial puck drop with girls from local youth associations such as the Lady Ducks and The Rinks.
At 5-foot-10, Knight was not intimidated on the ice. With great speed and an impressively quick wrist shot, she impressed Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. Of note, Boudreau has never seen a women’s hockey game live. Of note, Knight took part in the first 25 minutes of the Ducks workout, participated in skating and passing drills. She would return for another session of shooting, although Ducks goatlenders Frederik Andersen and John Gibson looked much bigger than any of the women’s goalies that she traditionally faced. Later that day, Knight also served as a guest coach for a women’s team in another part of the Ducks’ training complex.
In addition, Ducks defender Ben Lovejoy grew up in the same town in New Hampshire that Knight did. The two became fast friends discussing their hometown roots. While Knight would love to play in an NHL exhibition game, there is certainly no shortage of talent. Earlier this year, Shannon Szabados practiced with the Edmonton Oilers and four time Winter Games gold medalist Caroline Ouellette would be ideal to participate with the Montreal Canadiens. With the quantum leap that women’s hockey is enjoying in North America, there is no question that such a dream may become a reality very soon.