Nashville Predators: Nashville’s Female Goaltender

View of the downtown Nashville skyline. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
View of the downtown Nashville skyline. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators may not have ever had a female goaltender but that’s not to say that there wasn’t one in Nashville.

Before the Nashville Predators came to be in 1998-99, The Nashville Knights were a Minor Professional hockey team based in Nashville, TN playing in the East Coast Hockey League from 1989 to 1996. The team played at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.

In 1993, Manon Rheaume was the first female goaltender to play a professional game in Nashville, Tennessee.

.She actually gained fame early on in 1992, That was when Phil Esposito who was running the new Tampa Bay Lightning team signed her to a contract to help get the word out about the new team in Tampa. That team was coached by none other than Terry Crisp, who we all know and love.

On September 23, 1992, the 20-year-old from Quebec, took the ice in an exhibition game for the Lighting against the St. Louis Blues. The Blues boasted both Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan. Rheaume allowed two goals in her part of the exhibition game. The crowd would give her a standing ovation in a 6-4 loss. She was the first female goaltender to play in a professional game.

Manon Rheaume was the first woman to play a professional regular season hockey game in December of 1993 when she played for the Atlanta Knights against the Lake City Golden Eagles

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The next season she played for the Knoxville Cherokees in the ECHL but was traded to the Nashville Knights.  I was lucky enough to see her very first game in Nashville which she won.

Those days were a little different than Nashville Predators games of today.  Their best player was a 24-year old defenseman, Greg Burke who scored 29 goals and 79 points that year in only 68 games and had 190 penalty Minutes!  Even with all of that scoring, he never made it to the NHL.

It’s been awhile but even with all of the hoopla about a female goaltender playing, there weren’t a lot of fans in the Municipal Auditorium.  I remember her as looking very small, but quick.  She was only five foot and 130 lbs.

She went on to play four games for the Knights the rest of that season with a 3-0 record and a 3.64 GAA.  She later played in the 1998 Olympics as part of the Canadian Silver Medal team. She played for several minor league teams but never ascended to the NHL again.

She certainly was a forerunner for the Women’s Hockey game as it is today.  Small in stature but huge in heart she is also a part of Nashville Hockey history.

Next: Nashville Predators Goalie Trivia

We’re glad we could share this part of the beginnings of Nashville Predators hockey.  We’ve certainly come a long way.