For the second time in franchise history, the Tampa Bay Lightning has invited a woman to participate in practice. Following in the proud footsteps of Manon Rheaume, who first skated with the Lightning in 1992, defender Anne Schleper joined the Lightning in an October 13 practice at Amalie Arena.
Having won a silver medal with the US national team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Schleper was paired with Lightning blueliners Eric Brewer and Mark Barberio. Coincidentally, Hilary Knight, who played with Schleper at Sochi, and both won a Clarkson Cup with the Boston Blades, took part in an October 3 practice with the Anaheim Ducks.
Of note, both of their involvements with NHL teams were part of their participation with the 2014 IIHF Girls Hockey Weekend. Given number 15 to wear, the native of St. Cloud, Minnesota could not hide her smile as she graced the ice. Working on drills with Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, she also took the chance to skate with Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan, who was a member of the US men’s team at Sochi.
As part of Girls Hockey Weekend, Schleper took part in street hockey clinics and a multi-panel discussion for local girl scouts. In addition, there was a scrimmage between members of the women’s ice hockey club, the Lady Vipers in Kissimmee, Florida.
She was also part of a ceremonial puck drop before the Lightning’s October 11 match against their expansion cousins, the Ottawa Senators. Like Knight practicing with the
Ducks, Schleper’s involvement with the Lightning will only help grow the girls’ game in the Sun Belt.