Saskatchewan woman becomes 1st female linesperson in a WHL game

A female linesperson will be part of the officiating crew for a Western Hockey League game on Friday night.

The junior hockey circuit announced the move earlier in the day, stating that Alex Clarke will become the first female linesperson in both WHL and Canadian Hockey League history.

Clarke will help officiate Friday’s preseason contest between the Regina Pats and Moose Jaw Warriors.

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According to the WHL, Clarke, from Weyburn, Sask., recently officiated at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Calgary.

She had also worked in nearly 300 games throughout Saskatchewan.

In an email to Global News, the league confirmed that it had never before had a female on-ice official before Clarke.

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The league also said that Clarke, 28, will help officiate the 2021-22 season.

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to join the WHL as a linesperson,” Clarke said in a press release. “I have been working towards this for several years now and I believe my development has reached the level required to perform in the WHL.

“I’m looking forward to the challenges and growth the WHL will bring to my officiating journey, and I’m excited about the potential for other female officials to enjoy similar opportunities in high-level male hockey.”

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The league also said Clarke was previously assigned to the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship, the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship (Division 1, Group B), the 2018 4 Nations Cup and the 2018 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship (Division II, Group B).

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“For the past several years, we have been monitoring Alex’s development and progression as an official,” said Kevin Muench, the WHL’s senior director of officiating.

“She has been highly successful in Junior A and her recent performance at the IIHF Women’s World Championship was highlighted by her assignment to the bronze-medal game. She has proven she is ready to take the next step in her career by earning the opportunity to be on the ice in the WHL.”

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Prior to becoming an official, Clarke also played four years of NCAA hockey in Duluth, Minn., where, playing defence, she had 63 points (12 goals, 51 assists) in 107 regular-season games.

Following her college career, Clarke was drafted by the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, but couldn’t play because of a knee injury.

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Since 2015, Clarke has been officiating as a member of Hockey Saskatchewan.

“On behalf of the WHL and all our member clubs, we wish to extend a warm welcome to Alex Clarke as she joins our WHL officiating program,” said WHL commissioner Ron Robison.

“Alex has proven herself to be a world-class linesperson and we look forward to her continuing her development as an official in the WHL.”

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