In a career that has seen Jessica Koizumi compete at some of the highest levels of competition, highlighted by a gold medal with Team USA at the 2008 IIHF Women’s World Championships, the chance to compete in the NWHL’s inaugural game only added to her remarkable legacy. Sporting a bright smile that accentuates her love of the game, she spent many seasons as one of the game’s most underrated star players.
By scoring the first-ever goal in NWHL history, it has served as a long overdue coming-out party, recognizing Koizumi’s greatness. Making news throughout North America with a swarm of media eager to cover her remarkable accomplishment, Koizumi’s historic goal is also making the rounds as one of the most watched hockey videos online.
Of note, Koizumi has made history more than once in women’s pro hockey. A charter member of the Boston Blades, she would score the first goal in Blades history. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that in that same game, Koizumi would score the Blades first-ever power play goal and first-ever game winning goal.
Showered with congratulation from fans, teammates and friends alike in reaction to her historic goal, a proud yet humble Koizumi is quick to acknowledge the contributions of her linemates on the Whale, who not only earned the assists on said goal, but carved their own bit of NWHL history on that same day. Kelli Stack, who has played with Koizumi on Team USA and with the Boston Blades, logged the first-ever multi-point game in league history. In addition, Kelly Babstock would become the first-ever Canadian-born player to score a goal in NWHL regular season play.
“I have been getting a great deal of congratulatory messages, texts, and tweets about scoring the first goal in NWHL history. I cannot say that it was a top ten replay goal, but it was certainly a special moment I will always cherish.
All the credit goes to my linemmates, Kelli Stack, and Kelly Babstock, whom I have enjoyed starting the season playing with. Any success I have experienced in my career is because of all the wonderful people I have been fortunate to have in my life. I never thought a women’s professional hockey league in North America would happen before I retired, and here it is!
That goal, that game, that day, stood for all the pioneers that paved the way for our generation to be getting paid to play the game we love! It’s an unbelievable feeling to be a part of history in the making!”
Having logged over 150 points at the NCAA level with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, plus reaching the century mark in pro hockey with the Minnesota Whitecaps, Montreal Stars and Boston Blades, Koizumi is poised for another strong statistical season this year. Perhaps more importantly, the 2015-16 Whale season shall serve as an opportunity for more hockey fans in Connecticut to appreciate her contributions the game.
Over the last few seasons, Koizumi also balanced playing hockey with the Boston Blades along with serving as an assistant coach on the staff of Joakim Flygh with the Yale Bulldogs from New Haven, Connecticut. This season, Koizumi shall remain on Yale’s coaching staff while helping provide the Connecticut Whale with solid leadership, destined to result in establishing her as one of the most prominent figures in Connecticut women’s hockey.
While the Whale opened their inaugural season with a 4-1 victory over the New York Riveters, the magic of opening day and the remarkable sold-out crowd made for an exceptionally enjoyable moment that shall provide Koizumi with a lifetime of memories.
“Opening day could not have gone better if I wrote it myself. Since women’s hockey in general, does not draw crowds like the men’s game does, seeing the amount of fans that supported us was what I enjoyed the most.
There was even a family I met in the autograph line that flew from Minnesota to be a part of opening day! The fans are what are going to keep this league thriving for future generations to be a part of. We promise as players to train and prepare our best to showcase entertaining games. We just hope the fans keep coming and believing in us. In turn, more sponsors and investors will want to support the NWHL.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Troy Parla