Las Vegas Thunderbirds’ Baechler Earns Win In First Game As First Female To Play In USPHL Premier

Las Vegas, NV — The Las Vegas Thunderbirds pulled off a nail-biting 5-4 win against the Long Beach Shredders on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, at City National Arena’s Ghost Energy Rink B.

While the game itself was a rollercoaster of emotions and skill, the spotlight was firmly on Naomi Baechler, who made history as the first female goalie ever to play in the USPHL Premier Division.

Naomi Baechler, who recently committed to Yale University, had an impressive debut, stopping 21 of 25 shots. Her calm presence on the ice was palpable, and she lived up to her own description of being a “presence on the ice.” Marco Benvenuti, Owner and GM of the Las Vegas Thunderbirds, said, “Naomi’s debut was nothing short of historic. Her performance tonight was a testament to her skill and the future of inclusivity in this sport.”

The Thunderbirds took an early lead with a goal from Liston, assisted by Alford and Walz, at 12:40 in the first period. The second period saw a flurry of action, with Dufour scoring twice for the Thunderbirds and Riquinha adding another. The Shredders fought back with goals from Hewitt, Wight, and Cherniak, making it a 4-3 game going into the third period.

In a tense final period, Ben Tov tied the game for the Shredders with a power-play goal at 13:44. However, Dube sealed the win for the Thunderbirds with a goal at 17:38, ensuring a victorious end to a historic night.

Both teams had their share of penalties, but it was the Shredders who capitalized, scoring twice on the power play. The Thunderbirds, however, couldn’t convert on their opportunities but managed to hold on for the win.

The Las Vegas Thunderbirds and the Long Beach Shredders will conclude their weekend series on Sunday, October 15, at 3:30 PM at City National Arena. Fans can expect another thrilling matchup and perhaps more history-making moments.

Clarification: Naomi Baechler is the second female to play in USPHL junior hockey overall – the first was Grace Campbell, who played 11 games for the Potomac Patriots of the USPHL Elite in 2021-22. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated, in the headline only, that she was the first female to play a junior game.