Rivalry Series Latest Example of Women’s Hockey’s Rise in Vegas

It’s no secret that girls and women’s hockey has exploded in Las Vegas since the Golden Knights arrived. In the organization’s first five years of existence, the number of girls and women playing hockey in the state of Nevada grew 681%, according to USA Hockey.

No other state in the country saw its female participation even double in size (South Carolina was next, with 89% growth at that time).

Along with all the additional girls on the ice at rinks like City National Arena and Lifeguard Arena are a growing number of high-level women’s hockey events in the Las Vegas Valley. The best example of that yet comes December 15, when the best women’s hockey players in the world come to The Dollar Loan Center for the Rivalry Series between the United States and Canadian national teams.


That highest level of women’s hockey isn’t the only example, though.

Later this week, four NCAA Division I women’s programs come to Henderson for a tournament dubbed the Henderson Collegiate Hockey Showcase. Participants include three of the top 12 teams in the country: No. 3 Minnesota, No. 5 Yale, No. 12th in Penn State along with Boston University.

Two matchups are set for Friday at Lifeguard Arena, with two more – including a championship game – on Saturday at The Dollar Loan Center.


Friday, Nov. 25 at Lifeguard Arena
• 1 pm – Boston University vs. Yale
• 4 pm – Penn State vs. Minnesota

Saturday, Nov. 26 at The Dollar Loan Center
• Doors open 12 pm • 1 pm – Losing Teams from Friday
• 4 pm – Winning Teams from Friday

All four teams will be in attendance for Wednesday night’s Vegas Golden Knights game against Ottawa.

All of those players – from the Olympians in the Rivalry Series to the college stars – had to start somewhere. Here in Vegas, that’s where VGK Director of Girls and Women’s Hockey Programming Sheri Hudspeth comes in.

Hudspeth has introduced approximately 100 girls to hockey in “Try Hockey for Free” events the past four months at City National Arena and Lifeguard Arena. There is another one of those events scheduled for Dec. 13, two days prior to the Rivalry Series game, where girls are provided all of the equipment they need and given a chance to try out the sport.

Hudspeth also assists more experienced players in the Learn to Play and Lil’ Knights programs. As girls progress, they can try out for the Vegas Jr.! Golden Knights girls teams – where she coaches the 10-and-under, 12-and-under and 14-and-under teams.

“Girls hockey in Las Vegas is a whole vibe! It’s exciting to see so many new players registering for our programming after the VGK Girls Try Hockey for Free events,” Hudspeth said. “Those events are really impactful for both players and parents. The future of girls hockey is bright here in Nevada.”

Every girl in the Vegas Golden Knights and Henderson Silver Knights youth programs – from Learn to Play to the travel teams – received a free ticket to the Rivalry Series game Dec. 15. You’ll see them lining the glass at one end of The Dollar Loan Center that night. The Vegas Jr. Golden Knights will host 45 girls for a skills clinic with members of the US team on Dec. 12, prior to the Rivalry Series game.

While that will undoubtedly be the highest level of women’s hockey any of those girls have seen, they have been exposed to higher levels thanks to the growth of Vegas as a hockey town and hockey destination.

In August a group of 14 NCAA Division I coaches came to town for a recruiting event that attracted players from all over. Those college coaches – all of them women – also conducted a skills clinic for the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights girls.

That exposure helps girls who are still learning the game see what might be possible for them in the future.

“We want to provide as much exposure as possible with the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights,” Hudspeth explained. “There are more opportunities now than ever before for women to work in professional hockey, play college or pro, broadcast games, scout or work in hockey operations. Ten years from now it’s impossible to predict what doors will be open for the girls playing today Having the chance to see high-level women’s hockey in person helps motivate them to dream big and keep working.”

Meanwhile, events like the college showcase and the Rivalry Series will introduce even more girls to the sport and inspire them as well. So don’t expect Nevada’s rapid growth in girls and women’s hockey to slow down any time soon.