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First-ever all-female officiating crew to work BCHL game in South Surrey

Four-person team will be first all-women crew to work a Canadian junior ‘A’ hockey game: BCHL
Four BCHL officials (left to right: Colleen Geddes, Megan Howes, Grace Barlow and Melissa Brunn) made Canadian junior ‘A’ hockey history Sunday at South Surrey Arena when they became the first all-female officiating crew to work a junior ‘A’ hockey game. (Garrett James photo)

Canadian junior-hockey history was made Sunday at South Surrey Arena, when four officials formed the first-ever all-female officiating crew for a BC Hockey League game between the Surrey Eagles and Langley Rivermen.

Grace Barlow and Megan Howes refereed the game, which ended in a 4-3 shootout victory for the Eagles, while Melissa Brunn and Colleen Geddes will work the lines.

“Being on an all-female crew is both exciting and comfortable,” said Barlow in a BCHL news release issued Sunday prior to the game..

“These women beside me have been my friends, as well as my colleagues, for years. Getting the opportunity to make history with them is an honour. I hope other young women can watch this game and know that all aspects of hockey are for everyone.”

The BCHL, as well as other junior ‘A’ leagues across the country, has had female officials before, but never an entire four-person crew made up of women.

“To share the ice with strong athletes is one thing, but to skate alongside strong female athletes at this level is another. I am tremendously proud of our journey thus far,” Howes said.

Howes and Brunn have both previously officiated BCHL games, while Barlow and Geddes are in their first seasons in the league.

“This is another step towards a more inclusive approach to hockey,” said Vanessa Stratton, female officiating lead for BC Hockey. “They are leaders for the next generation of young female officials and that is something to be so proud of.”

Sunday’s game was a relatively calm affair, as far as penalties go – Barlow and Howes called only five penalties between the two teams, including two to Surrey Eagles forward Michael Abgrall and one to Rivermen forward Riley Wallack, who is a Semiahmoo Peninsula resident.

On Monday, BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb, a Semiahmoo Peninsula resident, tweeted that he is “proud of the work the women have put in.”

“Some day this will not be a news story,” he added.

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