Organizations proving that Hockey IS for everyone

Pro Players
min - read
Jordan Dunn
Pro Players
min - read
If you only have a few minutes to spare, here's what you should know:
Recent NHL messaging on inclusivity has been mixed.
Organizations are creating safe spaces to play everyone to play Hockey in spite of that messaging.
Some teams are still involved with Pride initiatives even if the League has taken a step back.

YOU Can Play, not you though

Since the founding of the “You Can Play” initiative in 2012, the NHL has repeatedly been making attempts to grow the game and become more inclusive to anyone who wants to play hockey.

While the league's messaging says that “Hockey is for Everyone,” recent actions have indicated otherwise. With the decision to scrap cause-based warm-up jerseys entirely next season, it may feel as though hockey is a sport that’s actively trying to turn away its fans.

Thankfully, while the NHL may be coddling the handful of players who don’t want to make hockey a more welcoming sport to everyone, plenty of other players, teams, and organizations are actively doing their part to make the sport a better place for anyone who wants to play.

Hockey IS for everyone, and there are plenty of organizations making sure their actions match those words.Here are just a few of them:

Boston Pride Hockey
Inclusive Hockey League logo

The Orgs:

BPH & The Inclusive Hockey League (New England)

Boston Pride Hockey was New England's first LGBTQ hockey club, founded in 1989 by a small group of players to play in the Vancouver Gay Games.

The group hosts scrimmages, tournaments, skill sessions, pick-up games, and even debuted the Inclusive Hockey League in 2021. The IHL is an initiative aimed at providing a space where players of all skill levels can compete and learn about hockey with allies and members of the LGBTQ community.

Professional hockey player Megan Keller and former Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask are ambassadors with the program.

Team Trans (Boston, MA/Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN)

Established in 2019, this is a group for trans hockey players that was founded out of a need to create a safe place and community for trans athletes, even among LGBTQ hockey organizations.

Founding members Harrison Browne, Aidan Cleary, and Jessica Platt began networking to start Team Trans after hearing other trans athletes talking about their loneliness in the sport. They reached out to Boston Pride Hockey VP Mark Tikonoff about it and soon players began connecting on social media.

Team Trans is the first sports team in the United States to be made up completely by trans players.

While they started with tournaments in MA and MN, Team Trans members Mason LeFebvre and Avery Cordingly have organized events in Madison, WI, as well.

Seattle Pride Hockey Classic (Seattle, WA)

An event that started as a four-team, 56-player tournament three years ago now boasts 18 teams and over 260 players.

Wrapping up its third year, the SPHC is an LGBTQ-friendly tournament presented by the Seattle Kraken founding partners and hosted at the Kraken Community Iceplex.

Professional players Andrew Ference, JT Brown, Luke Prokop, and Jessica Platt have all participated in the games as special guests.

They offer free admission to the iceplex for spectators, and the games are even streamed online, with Kraken radio commentator Everett Fitzhugh and Seattle Thunderbirds PA announcer Tom Helm calling the games.

Though still a young tournament, it has nearly tripled in size since its first year and continues to grow. The event added an extra day to the tournament this year to accommodate demand.

Play LA (Los Angeles, CA)

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Play LA was previously presented by the LA Blades Hockey Team (the first openly gay and lesbian hockey team in the United States), but is now also sponsored by The Empowerment Effect.

The tournament has long focused on fostering LGBTQ inclusion, but with the new sponsorship, the event hopes to extend its outreach to young girls and women hoping to get involved in hockey, as well. They also play in events with members of the New York City Gay Hockey Association and the Sin City Classic.

Sin City Classic (Las Vegas, NV)

A massive LGBTQ-friendly sports tournament in Las Vegas, the Sin City Classic is considered the largest LGBTQ+ sporting event in the world.

Hockey is just one sport out of 24 featured, with over 10,000 athletes and 500 teams represented in the tournament.

Athletes who participate are also able to nominate a fellow athlete for the Ken Scearce Leadership Award, which honours the memory and legacy of the former executive director who passed away in 2021.

Coupe Canada Cup (Montreal, QC, Canada – Toronto, ON, Canada)

Hosted in tandem by the Toronto and Montreal Gay Hockey Associations, the Coupe Canada Cup is an LGBTQ- and Ally-friendly hockey tournament that rotates annually between Montreal and Toronto.

Hosted in association with the Montreal Dragons (a Canadian LGBTQ Hockey Team), it’s a tournament focused on creating a safe space for LGBTQ players to play and enjoy the game they love.

Queer Hockey Nova Scotia (Kjipuktuk, Mi’qmak Territory)

A hockey organization built by and for queer players and based out of Nova Scotia, the club hosted their first ever HFX Pride Cup – a Halifax based tournament that prioritizes queer athletes – this year, while also icing two teams composed entirely of trans players.

The teams were guaranteed to play four to five games through the tournament.

The first two days were round-robin play, followed by the championship games on the final day of the tournament. Organizer Jay McKeller told CBC that it was more work than expected, but that he’s doing it "for the joy that it brings to have your community supporting you, playing against you. There's just something very different about playing against your family, basically."

Jaylen McKellar
Halifax held its first all-queer hockey game on November 27th, 2021. The start of of creating safe and comfortable spaces for LGBTQ athletes.

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