RI Panthers: Our History

The History of the Rhode Island Panthers Girl’s/Women’s Ice Hockey Organization

The Rhode Island Panthers Women's Ice Hockey Program is one of the first women's ice hockey organizations in the United States. In the late 1960's, the Panthers started as an informal group of young girls who wanted to play hockey but were not allowed to play on boys' youth teams.  The program was started by Jacquelyn Bogosian and Barbara Butler and the first coach was Bob Bogosian.  This original group of young women were called the Cranston All-Stars and skated at the venerable Cranston Ice Bowl located in Edgewood at the “Shipyard.” When the Cranston Veteran's Memorial Ice Rink opened the Panthers were one of the first programs to call Cranston Vets their home. Then in 1970-71, the House League developed into the first Women's Youth All Star Team called the Cranston All-Stars. After the initial success of the All-Stars, the Cranston Panthers Girls Ice Hockey Organization was founded in 1972 comprised of many girls from the Cranston All Star Team.

The Cranston Panthers were one of the sport's early pioneers. In order to play other women's youth teams, the team traveled throughout New England. There were very few organized women's programs in the early years, but the dedication of these programs to women's youth hockey inspired greater interest and enthusiasm in women's hockey, which contributed to the organization of more teams throughout the region.

In 1981, Fred Miller of Cranston, Rhode Island was appointed President and Head Coach of the Cranston Panthers.  Coach Miller was committed to the growth of women's ice hockey in Rhode Island.  He created a women's ice hockey organization with multiple teams of different age groups, which provided every young woman a team to play for and the means to improve their individual hockey skill.  As the popularity of women's hockey flourished and the Panthers organization included young women from across the entire state, the team's name was changed to the Rhode Island Panthers in 1989 reflecting the broader base of team membership.

In November of 1988, the Panthers sponsored their first Thanksgiving Holiday Tournament. Over the years, this tournament has enjoyed tremendous growth and success. The tournament attracts a large field of outstanding women's youth teams from ice hockey organizations across the United States.  Each year, numerous ice hockey coaches from women's programs at prep schools, colleges and universities located across the United States, attend the Panther holiday tournament, all attracted by the opportunity to scout and evaluate the skills and talent of these young women hockey players.    

The history of the Rhode Island Panthers is rich in championship play and achievement. Panthers teams competed in Regional and National Championship play for over twenty years.  In 1996, the Panthers hosted the USA Hockey National Championship Tournament in Rhode Island.  Panther Teams competed in National Championship Tournaments in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1996, 1999, and 2007. The Panther Adult Team finished fourth in the United States at the 1999 Nationals in Anaheim California. In 2007, the Panther Senior C Team earned a Silver Medal at the National Championship tournament in San Jose California. 

Over the last thirty years, numerous Panther youth players continued to play hockey at the college level.  As college hockey opportunities for women continued to grow, many Panther players moved forward to play for Division I, Division III and Club Hockey Teams at colleges and universities throughout the country. 

The Rhode Island Panther hockey program played a leadership role in the growth and promotion of women's hockey in the state of Rhode Island for over three decades.  The Panther program is not only an organization, which produces talented hockey players, but also provides experience, knowledge, and mentorship to the development of coaches, hockey officials, and youth program directors.  Rhode Island Panther alumni have enjoyed tremendous success behind the bench as college and high school coaches. Former Rhode Island Panthers Coach, Michael Doran of Pawtucket, served as the USA Hockey New England District Women's Hockey President from 1999-2001. Panther alumni, Sherry Pickles and Michaela Fratterelli followed their Panther playing careers and were extremely successful ice hockey referee in the state of Rhode Island officiating at the college and national level of competition. Today, former Panther coaches and team managers are serving in leadership roles in women's adult and youth hockey programs throughout the state of Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Panthers Women's Ice Hockey Organization continues as a leader in the growth and development of women's ice hockey in Rhode Island and New England. Today, the Panthers are a registered USA Hockey organization from the state of Rhode Island in the New England District.  Panther teams compete in the South Shore Women's Hockey League, the Bay State Women's Hockey League, the RI Youth Hockey League, as well as, in USA Hockey sponsored ice hockey tournaments and scheduled games with various independent teams in Southern New England. The Rhode Island Panthers are committed to the development of skilled and talented hockey players who play on competitive teams against challenging competition in pursuit of state, district, and national championships.

Opportunity, Development, Competition, Championship