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Looking back at Year One at The Ice Garden

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We had an awesome first season at The Ice Garden, and it’s thanks to all of you.

From the NWHL to the CWHL to the NCAA, AWIHL, RWHL and everything in between, it’s been a wild year one for The Ice Garden.
Michelle Jay

The offseason came sooner than I expected this year.

Though most the pro teams wrapped up their seasons a few weeks ago, the World Championships and USWNT boycott took up a lot of our time, in addition to the other tournaments happening around the world.

The last few weeks were a whirlwind, until suddenly I was sitting in the media room after Team USA’s emotional victory over Team Canada to capture the IIHF Women’s World Championship title. Just like that, the women’s hockey season officially ended. I felt like I’d just finished a marathon, but I was shocked that the season was over. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet.

This year has been a wild one. It was about this time last year, give or take a couple weeks, that I found out I would be the managing editor for The Ice Garden, though we didn’t even have a name until several months later. Last summer was a busy one, spent brainstorming and planning for our site launch. We went through over 100 applications for people who wanted to write, edit, design, photograph, anything for the site.

We locked down a domain name, started getting content ready, and rolled out the red carpet on October 5, 2016.

We had a lot of big plans for our first year, and we were able to accomplish so much in seven months. We were able to send writers and photographers to dozens of college, NWHL and CWHL games. We had reporters live at the NWHL and CWHL All-Star Games, the Frozen Four, the Clarkson and Isobel Cups, the AWIHL finals, and the Women’s World Championships in Plymouth.

It is not easy being a blog that covers more than 50 women’s hockey teams between all the college and pro teams. That’s a lot of hockey, and though we have an incredible staff, there’s not enough hours in the day to cover everything the way we want to. There are so many stories I wish we could have told this year but we couldn’t. But I’m beyond proud of what stories we were able to tell this year, and I cannot wait to see what we do next season.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned covering women’s hockey (and really, this goes in any sport), it’s to expect the unexpected. Every time you think there will be a break in news, the US women’s national team boycotts Worlds or the Isobel Cup loses its handles or the NHLPA partners with the CWHL. Even though we’re in the “offseason,” don’t think we’re going away any time soon. We have stories in the works and I’m sure that five minutes after publishing this, Hayley Wickenheiser will announce her return to women’s hockey (we can only hope).

I have a long, long, LONG list of thank you’s to get through. This site is a team effort, and it wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without the help of a lot of people.

To Travis Hughes, who hired me and was instrumental in launching the site and keeping up with it through its first year and to Anthony Mauro, who headed our college writers, you both work tirelessly and I appreciate everything you’ve given to TIG.

To all the players and staff that we worked with, it was a pleasure to work with you all this season. Thank you for making our lives easier when it came to setting up interviews and credentials.

To everyone who worked on the site, whether you’re a writer, editor, designer, photographer, or some combination of all four, you are the biggest group of women’s hockey nerds I have ever encountered and I love you all for it. Some of you came into the season with an encyclopedic knowledge of women’s hockey and some said “I just got into women’s hockey but I watched one game and now I’m hooked” and dove right into the whcky world. I got too meet a lot of you this year and see your passion firsthand, and it was the best thing to see how much you all love this crazy sport. We have learned and laughed a lot together this year, and I am so grateful for the hard work you put in. Well done, all of you.

A special shoutout to Michelle Jay, who has been my alternate captain this season and who always keeps me sane. I’m lucky to call you one of my best friends.

And of course, to you, dear readers, for coming back and giving a new site like us a chance. Our readership has certainly grown since Day 1 and we hope to see it keep trending upward as we continue on. Don’t be shy! Say hi to us on Twitter, write a fan post, or just pop in the comments and let us know what you’re thinking. And if you want to join the squad, email me at sbnwhcky@gmail.com. (I should actually be able to respond to you all now because the season is over and, you know, there currently isn’t a whcky crisis that popped out of nowhere).

Anyways, I’m rambling. Thanks for our first season, and here’s to many more. Cheers!