By Carter Brooks
Photos courtesy of James Carey Lauder and the NWHL
Winnipeg's Tatiana Rafter will be heading to Denmark for the 2019-20 hockey season.
On Thursday, the 27-year-old former University of British Columbia U-Sports star was named Head Coach of Denmark's Hvidovre Ishockey Klub for the upcoming season. The women's team - situated just outside of Copenhagen - consists of 25 players aged 15-29, 15 of which have represented Denmark internationally.
Following five ultra-successful seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds, in which the 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward amassed 70 goals, 133 points and 98 penalty minutes in 145 total games, Rafter played three years in the National Women's Hockey League with the Buffalo Beauts and Metropolitan Riveters, collecting 12 goals, 16 points and 18 penalty minutes in 51 regular season games. Rafter's 2018-19 season was spent in the women's KHL, where she skated for SK Gorny Ukhta in St. Petersburg.
Rafter is expected to travel to Denmark to meet the players of Hvidovre on Tuesday, September 3rd, for the team's first practice of the season, held at Allan Villadsen Ishockey Arena. The former Isobel Cup champion (Riveters 2018) will run on and off-ice practices with the team, manage the bench, while also serving in a hockey management role within the Danish club's front office staff.
"There is no doubt that Tatiana will be a huge role model for our young hockey players," said Hvidovre Chairman Henrik Thomsen in a team-issued press release. "She is a giant capacity and we are really looking forward to working with her.”
"DIU is very impressed with Hvidovre’s accomplishment to sign such a huge coach capacity for the women’s team," added National Danish Ice Hockey Federation's Sports Director Olaf Eller added. "It is serious work and a very strong symbol of the big progress for Danish women’s hockey through this last couple of years.”
Danish women's hockey is currently at an all-time high, as for the first time in the program's existence, the Danish National Women's Team is ranked within the top-10, and will compete in the top division at the 2020 Women's World Championship from Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia in early April. Hvidovre Ishockey Klub is also experiencing a phase of growth, as the women's team will continue to play competition out of the Danish League, as well as both the Swedish Division 1 South, and the European Women's Hockey League.
On May 11th, Rafter announced that she would be stepping away from playing the game of hockey, while transitioning into the role of a coach. At that point, she did not indicate as to where or when she would setting up shop behind the bench, but pointed to this upcoming announcement.