Four women officials had the career opportunity of a lifetime at NHL prospect tournaments this week, and each loved every second of it.
"It's more than I could have ever imagined," said Kirsten Welsh, a first-year official. "Incredible and a dream come true."
Welsh and fellow linesman Kendall Hanley, along with referees Katie Guay and Kelly Cooke, four of the 96 officials who participated the 2019 NHL Exposure Combine, were selected to officiate rookie tournaments in Irvine, California; Buffalo; Nashville and Traverse City, Michigan.
And though the experiences were incredible, the opportunities came with challenges, some expected, some not.
Cooke worked the 2019 NHL Prospects Showcase in Nashville and despite having officiated for the past 10 years, she said she was not quite prepared for what greeted her in her first game, which featured the Tampa Bay Lightning.