In Atlanta on December 13, 1992, Manon Rheaume becomes the first woman to play in a regular-season professional hockey game. In the Atlanta Knights’ 4-1 loss to Salt Lake City, Rheaume enters at the start of the second period with the score tied at 1 in the International Hockey League contest. In nearly six minutes, Rheaume stops four shots and allows one goal before she is replaced by the Knights’ starter.
“She did it,” wrote columnist Ailene Voisin of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Damn, she did it.”
“We gave her a cigar with a note afterword,” Atlanta coach Gene Ubriaco told reporters afterward. “Now, you’re really one of the guys.”
Although Rheaume acknowledged the “ice is broken” after the minor league game, she was modest about her performance. “I know the people want to see me, and I understand, but they must understand me. I am not ready. Not yet,” Rheaume told reporters.
On September 23, 1993, Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game, with the Tampa Bay Lightning in a preseason game against the St. Louis Blues. She didn’t make the Lightning’s regular-season team. But she caught on with the Atlanta Knights.
Rheaume played one more game for Atlanta that season before moving on to the Eastern Collegiate Hockey League, where she played a combined eight games for the Knoxville Cherokees and Nashville Knights. She also had success with the Canadian women’s national team before retiring in 1997. Rheaume briefly came back during the 2008-09 season.