The NHL has officially announced the Outdoor Women’s Classic with the NWHL’s Boston Pride vs. CWHL’s Montreal Canadiennes facing off on December 31 as a part of the Winter Classic festivities at Gillette Stadium in Boston.
The game will take place at 2pm on New Year’s Eve, immediately before the NHL Alumni Game.
“Two days with three Boston-Montreal rival match-ups is a great way to celebrate hockey,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in the NHL’s announcement. “A new year signifies a new chapter and we look forward to sharing the ice for the first time with two professional women’s teams on the League’s biggest stage.”
This is huge news for women’s hockey in what has been a significant year in women’s hockey with the launch of the NWHL and new NHL partnerships announced for the CWHL.
“We are humbled and honored to be part of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic festivities at Gillette Stadium,” said NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan, who praised Daly in the NWHL release.
“I’d also like to personally thank Brenda Andress and her team at the Canadian’s Women’s Hockey League. They have been part of this collaborative process since the beginning and their efforts are appreciated,” she added.
In the announcement both teams announced their roster for the game, which indicates that the black cloud hanging over this game isn’t going away.
The Boston Pride are going to be without some of their best players, who will be attending camp with USA Hockey. There’s a lot to the situation and that’s been thoroughly covered leading up to this announcement, but in the end, USA Hockey has decided not to release the women who are attending camp so that they can participate in the game.
The Pride will play the game without the biggest name in U.S. women’s hockey, Hilary Knight, as well as Brianna Decker, Jordan Smelker, Gigi Marvin, Kacey Bellamy, Zoe Hickel, Alyssa Gagliardi, Kelsie Fralick and Amanda Pelkey.
Filling some of the gaps left by a handful of the team’s best players are New York Riveters Meghan Fardelmann and Bray Ketchum, and the Connecticut Whale’s Kaleigh Fratkin, Shannon Doyle and Kate Buesser.
It’s unfortunate because this is such a big stage and a big moment that it seems like USA Hockey itself would benefit from. But there seems to be some bureaucratic battling that may be losing sight of the big picture here.