9 big NY State women’s hockey moments
by Lucas AYKROYD|31 MAR 2024
When New York’s Aerin Frankel backstopped the Americans to gold at the 2023 Women’s Worlds, it was another proud day for her state’s hockey fans.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin
Historically, the American states vying for the title of Best Women’s Hockey State start with the letter “M”: Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan. Yet with the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship taking place in Utica (3 to 14 April), the spotlight is squarely on New York State.
To celebrate this landmark event, let’s take a trip down memory lane and dive into nine big New York State women’s hockey moments.

1) Lake Placid hosts third Women’s Worlds (1994)

Where would USA Hockey host the Women’s Worlds for the first time ever after Ottawa (1990) and Tampere (1992) got the party started? In Lake Placid, naturally. The Adirondack Mountains village is rich in hockey history. It most famously hosted the 1980 Olympics and the U.S. men’s “Miracle on Ice” upset over the Soviet Union.
In 1994, the Karen Kay-coached Americans went undefeated through the semi-finals, beating Switzerland, Finland, Germany and China. However, they settled for the silver medal with a 6-3 final loss to Canada. Cammi Granato and Karyn Bye tied for the team lead with 12 points apiece.

2) Bailey wins Olympic gold in Nagano (1998)

Chris Bailey graduated from Providence College with a degree in business management in 1994. And the 26-year-old defender certainly took care of business at the inaugural Olympic women’s hockey tournament in Nagano in 1998.
Bailey, who hails from Marietta, New York, became the first women’s hockey player from this state to win an Olympic gold medal. The hard-working rearguard registered one assist in six games and rejoiced after the stunning 3-1 gold medal win over Canada. She’d return for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, earning silver.

3) Fisher wins inaugural Patty Kazmaier Award (1998)

At 22, Brandy Fisher was disappointed not to crack the ‘98 Olympic team that made history in Japan in February. Yet a month later, the talented forward from Potsdam, New York gained a unique distinction as the first winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award, which honours the top player in NCAA women’s hockey. Kazmaier, a multi-sport-playing hockey star from Princeton, passed away in 1990 at 28 due to a rare blood disease.
USA Hockey’s official announcement summarized Fisher’s stellar statistics: “Fisher led the University of New Hampshire and the Eastern College Athletic Conference in scoring this season with 80 points on 41 goals and 39 assists in 37 games. She also led UNH in power-play goals (11), game-winning goals (six) and short-handed goals (three), and registered a hat trick in four games.”

4) Three NY State natives help win historic WW gold (2005)

In the 2005 Women’s Worlds gold-medal shootout, the U.S. emerged with a 1-0 win over Canada for its first gold in tournament history. In Linkoping, Sweden, it was Michigan-born Angela Ruggiero’s goal on Canadian goalie Kim St. Pierre and California-born Chanda Gunn’s save on Caroline Ouellette that made the difference.
No fewer than three U.S. skaters hailed from the Empire State: forwards Kathleen Kauth (Saratoga Springs) and Kim Insalaco (Rochester) and defender Lyndsey Wall (Churchville). Kauth chipped in a goal in a 7-0 win over Germany, while Wall scored in an 8-1 romp over Finland.

5) Matheson wins Olympic gold in PyeongChang (2018)

When Emily Matheson (then known as Emily Pfalzer) was selected for the 2018 Olympic team, the Buffalo native already had a winning pedigree. At age 25, the diminutive but dynamic blueliner had earned three straight Women’s Worlds titles (2015-17) with Team USA, not to mention an NWHL championship as captain of the Buffalo Beauts.
Matheson played a big role in the thrilling 3-2 shootout win over Canada in the final. She logged 28:06 in ice time, which trailed only defence partner Megan Keller (29:05) and Lee Stecklein (28:58) among Americans, and broke up multiple Canadian scoring chances.
Savoring the victory, she told reporters: “It’s something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl. To be here right now wearing a gold medal around my neck? Can’t describe it.”

6) Riveters fall to Lulea in Champions Cup (2018)

Showdowns between North American and European women’s pro clubs don’t come around that often – at least at this point in history. So when the Metropolitan Riveters – the reigning champions of the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) – hosted perennial SDHL champs Lulea, anticipation ran high.
Finnish ace Michelle Karvinen led Lulea to a 4-2 victory with a pair of goals in the one-game showdown on 29 September, 2018. It took place at the Hobey Baker Memorial Rink at Princeton University. That is in New Jersey, but it’s fair to say the now-defunct Riveters aspired to represent the whole Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut).

7) PWHPA stars light up Madison Square Garden (2021)

The pandemic was a tough time for hockey in general. Yet that didn’t stop the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) from making history in Manhattan at what’s often called the most famous arena in the world.
In the first women’s pro hockey game ever contested at Madison Square Garden, Brianna Decker dazzled with a four-point performance for Team New Hampshire in a 4-3 win over Team Minnesota. The tone was set by tennis legend and women’s sports advocate Billie Jean King, who addressed the players beforehand.

8) Frankel backstops U.S. to WW gold (2023)

For many American fans, seeing Aerin Frankel get a shot at being the national team’s starting goalie was a long-awaited hope. After all, the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Award winner posted a save percentage north of 93.0 in each of her four seasons with Northwestern University, a feat few could rival.
Born just 50 km north of New York City in Chappaqua, the acrobatic Frankel made the most of her opportunity when she won five of her six starts at the 2023 Women’s Worlds in Brampton, Ontario. That included the 6-3 gold-medal clincher over host Canada.

9) PWHL New York makes its debut (2024)

When the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) kicked off its inaugural season, New York delivered the goods with a 4-0 shutout over host Toronto on New Year’s Day. Ella Shelton got the first goal in league history and goalie Corinne Schroeder stopped all 29 shots she faced.
New York will split its remaining home games this year between UBS Arena (home of the New York Islanders) and the Prudential Center (home of the New Jersey Devils). While the team has had its ups and downs so far, the future looks bright for women’s pro hockey in the Empire State.
For now, New York’s Alex Carpenter, who is vying for the PWHL scoring lead with 19 points, would love to give U.S. fans some unforgettable memories during the 2024 Women’s Worlds in Utica.