Next Monday, the two best women’s hockey programs in the world will face off at Crypto Arena in Downtown Los Angeles. It will be a continuation of a rivalry that goes back decades, USA vs. Canada.
Here are 7 things you need to know before puck drop in just a few days:
1. On the international stage, there is no bigger rivalry than USA vs. Canada. While that statement could be debated at different times in the men’s game, there is no question when it comes to women’s hockey. In fact, the two North American countries have had a stranglehold on every IIHF Women’s World Championship and Olympic Winter Games staged, as the U.S. and Canada have met in every gold medal game except two (2019 World Championship, 2006 Olympics). As an offshoot of a rivalry that first began in 1997, this is the second edition of the Rivalry Series. And this time around, it’s a seven-game series. Currently, Team USA is up 3-0 after securing wins in Kelowna, B.C. (4-3 OT), Kamloops, B.C. (2-1), and Seattle (4-2).
2. Manon Rheaume, considered by many to be the first lady of women’s hockey, was hired by the host LA Kings earlier this year to serve as Special Advisor to the team’s Hockey Operations department. She’ll be front and center throughout the next few days, as anticipation for the game in LA is heating up.
“It’s exciting to have the chance to host one of the best rivalries in hockey,” said the former Olympic medal-winning goalie from Canada. “As we continued growing the game of hockey in California, exposing young girls to the best female hockey players in the world will inspire them to get involved in the game.”
3. SoCal native and Boston College captain Cayla Barnes will likely receive plenty of attention over the coming days. Hailing from Eastvale in the Inland Empire, the 5-foot-1 defender has been a regular player on America’s blueline for quite some time. With the Eagles on winter break now, she’s expected to suit up once again for Team USA. Her long list of accolades includes serving as captain of the 2016 U.S. Under-18 team, winning gold at the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea (while serving as the youngest player on the U.S. team at just 19 years old), and won a silver medal at the 2022 Olympic Games in China. She was also named Boston College Female Rookie of the Year in 2017-18.
4. Kings president Luc Robitaille is eager to see talent like Barnes compete in the series once it lands in LA.
“These players are the best in the world at what they do,” said the Hockey Hall of Famer. “Their skill level is unmatched. They also have a tremendous passion for the game, and it shows. I am sure they are looking forward to showcasing their game in Los Angeles and the hockey fans of LA will love this great rivalry.”
5. This year’s Rivalry Series is actually the third edition of the event, with the United States claiming victory in eight of the 11 total games played over that time. Canada won the inaugural Rivalry Series in 2018-19 by taking two of the three games. However, in the 2019-20 Rivalry Series, it was Team USA coming out on top four games to one – including an overtime win in the finale of a then record-breaking 13,320 fans in Anaheim. That figure was surpassed just last month in Seattle.
6. Kelly Cheeseman, AEG Sports COO (and a frequent guest on Kings Of The Podcast), had this to share about the event:
“We’re always trying to do something new, something different,” said the long-time SoCal executive. “This is the first time we’ve hosted a game with the top women’s talent in the world and we’re really excited to see them at our home, Crypto.com Arena. I think our fans will really enjoy it, and it allows the opportunity to introduce the women’s game to a new audience in LA. Something we hope we look back at in five years and we have seen significant growth in our game.”
7. Building upon Cheeseman’s last comment, growing the game includes highlighting representation. It’s important for young girls that play — or would like to learn to play the game of hockey — to see their peers doing what they love too. Ultimately, this leads to a higher likelihood of them sticking with it, and that helps grow the game; leading to an increase in quality and competitiveness over time.
With that in mind, there are a number of free events scheduled around Southern California in advance of the game. This will be a great chance for fans and youth hockey players to have an opportunity to get up close and personally involved with several of the women who will be playing for the U.S. and Canada.
— Pre-registration is required for many of the events (even though most of them are free). More information on the meet and greets, women’s hockey panel, and various skills clinics can be found HERE.
— A pair of open practices are scheduled at the Kings training facility, Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo. Team USA will skate Saturday at 1pm and Sunday at 10:45am.
— Don’t miss the game either, tickets are still available HERE for the Rivalry Series matchup on Monday, December 19. Portions of the proceeds from the game will benefit the Kings Care Foundation, specifically programs to grow and support girls hockey in Los Angeles.
They just added a Teddy Bear Toss to the game. Make that 8 things to know… it’s the first one ever at Crypto Arena.
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com