Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne Schofield bringing women's hockey to forefront

Kendall Coyne Schofield made history Friday becoming the first woman to officially compete in the NHL All-Star skills challenges.

Schofield got the opportunity after Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon relinquished his spot due to a lower-body injury. She beat out Coyotes forward Clayton Keller in the event.

The 26-year-old is used to making history, though. As part of the United States women’s national ice hockey team, Schofield won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. She also had a role in one of the most seminal moments in sports history when the hockey team boycotted the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in an effort to encourage equality in the sport, both in opportunity and support.

“We want to be the best team that we can be, we want to represent the United States to the fullest,” Schofield’s Olympic teammate Hilary Knight told Omnisport. “And we were coming up short year after year … so, the thought was if we had a little bit more support we’d be able to dedicate more time.”

The team ultimately came to an agreement with the IIHF to compete at the Olympics and came away with a victory in a dramatic shootout in the finals against Canada.

It was a tough battle, but one Schofield and Knight wanted to fight in order to help future athletes in their Olympic endeavors.

When Schofield accepted the invitation to compete in the fastest skater event Friday, she did so in a tweet which included the hash tag “HockeyIsForEveryone.”

Knight ran the fastest skater event last season at the NHL All-Star Game. She didn’t officially compete, but if she had, she would have placed respectably among her peers.

In February, Knight is showing off her skills again as she will open up Red Bull’s Crashed Ice at Fenway Park by doing a solo run. Crashed Ice, which is essentially downhill skiing on skates, has been going on for the better part of two decades and will be in Boston for the first time ever on Feb. 8-9.

Knight has been integral in bringing visibility to women’s hockey, as has Schofield, and getting the chance to open up the event in the city where she opened her professional career with the Boston Blades is special.

“It’s a really unique opportunity and I’m extremely excited that it’s in Fenway, the place that everyone travels to, whether it’s to see the actual stadium or to watch the Red Sox play, it’s such an iconic facility,” she said.


You don’t want to miss Red Bull Crashed Ice in Boston! #RedBullCrashedIce @redbull

A post shared by Hilary Knight (@hilaryknight) on Jan 23, 2019 at 8:17am PST

Opportunities like this were rare in past years for women’s hockey players. But with Knight and Schofield’s work. along with their other teammates on the USWNT, the chances are becoming more common which is exactly what they were fighting for.

“I really see sport as a vehicle to impact people’s lives in a positive way,” Knight said. “Fortunately my specific realm is hockey and trying to increase the visibility and accessibility of the sport, and two, anything that inspires people, or motivates people, or sparks change is something I’m definitely interested in.”