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Jets and Moose Gender Equality Games Celebrate Females in Sport as Part of NHL's "This Is Hockey"

February 24, 2020 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Manitoba Moose News Release

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets and the Manitoba Moose will host their first Gender Equality games on March 6 and 7 as part of the NHL's "This is Hockey" initiative, which promotes diversity and inclusiveness in hockey. The NHL's Gender Equality month recognizes women who are making an impact in hockey, on and off the ice, and coincides with International Women's Day which is celebrated annually on March 8.

The Winnipeg Jets have selected four role models from Winnipeg, or who have a local connection, who have built successful careers around the sport of hockey, in business, broadcasting, and on the ice: Norva Riddell, Sr. Vice President, Sales with True North Sports + Entertainment; Venla Hovi, Team Finland bronze medal Olympian and current On-Ice Instructor with Jets Hockey Development; Sara Orlesky, TSN broadcaster; and Sami Jo Small, three-time Olympian and five-time world champion. They all represent excellence in their respective hockey-related fields and will participate in a ceremonial puck drop to start the Jets game on Friday, March 6 when they take on the Vegas Golden Knights.

To further celebrate the opportunity that women have in professional sports, Riddell, Hovi, Orlesky and Small will be part of a pre-game panel at the Manitoba Moose game on Saturday, March 7 when the Moose face the Iowa Wild. Moderated by TSN's Dennis Beyak, the women will share the challenges and successes of their journeys with select female sports teams and groups that will be attending the Moose Gender Equality game.

The panel will be open to media; please watch for an advisory to be sent the week of March 2.

The Moose game will feature the St. Mary's Academy Choir singing the Canadian anthem and TJ Pepper singing the American anthem. Joining them will be four Timbits ringette teams during intermission as well as ringette teams in the pre-game Big Ice program, along with Global Winnipeg's Kahla Evans as a guest announcer. Four local youth with aspirations in business, broadcasting and hockey will join Riddell, Hovi, Orlesky and Small for the ceremonial puck drop. There will also be an Upper Deck hockey card giveaway for the first 3,000 fans.

As part of the overall initiative Hovi will host Female Hockey Day at Bell MTS Iceplex on Saturday, Feb. 29. The event is a celebration of gender equality in hockey and includes on and off-ice skills and development for atom, novice, peewee, and bantam aged girls. Hovi will also speak about her experiences in hockey, when opportunities for females in hockey were more limited. The event is currently at capacity but interested participants can sign up to be on the waitlist and can visit to learn more about Jets Hockey Development female programming.

"The event is to celebrate where we are right now with female hockey and how much it's growing," said Hovi. "I hope all participants understand that they can have big goals with hockey. I don't want them to think that there are things that aren't available for them or that it's impossible."

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