A life in hockey has prepared Moore for AHL role

Photo: Ross Dettman/AHL

In honor of Women’s History Month, this week TheAHL.com is featuring a multi-part series spotlighting women across the AHL.

📝 by Patrick Williams

In one way, Hayley Moore’s story is quite typical.

“My passion for the game has been unwavering since the time I started playing hockey when I was four years old,” said Moore, who since 2021 has served as the American Hockey League’s vice president of hockey operations.

“That’s really been a driving force behind everything that I do. I love this game so much, and I can’t picture a life where it’s not kind of the centerpiece of what I do every day.”

But Moore’s tale veers off from there and becomes far less the norm. Before making her way to AHL headquarters, she had already played at the Division I college and professional levels, coached, and worked in both hockey and business-side executive roles. And now she is one of three female vice presidents in the AHL front office, where six of the league’s 14 current staff members are women.

“From a really young age, my parents supported me every step of the way playing boys’ hockey. They never told me that I couldn’t do it or that I didn’t belong, and they supported all of my crazy antics and wanting to pursue this sport. My father was really involved off the ice, and he helped run all of my tournaments and coached my teams when I was younger. I saw all the work that he did behind the scenes that nobody really gave him credit for… It’s really fueled me in my career. The work ethic that he has is something I strive to have every single day.”

That life in hockey prepared the Wakefield, Mass., native for her next stop in the game with the AHL. Her work now entails overseeing on-ice operations, including the AHL’s officiating program, and managing player discipline.

Moore starred as a forward at Brown University, where she captained the women’s hockey club in her junior and senior seasons. A two-time All-Ivy selection, she assembled 133 points in 123 games over four years with the Bears. After graduation, she continued to make her way through the game on as well as off the ice.

Along with one season with the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2010-11, Moore also played professionally in Switzerland. She moved behind the bench, spending time as an assistant coach with the women’s clubs at Harvard as well as the University of Massachusetts-Boston, sandwiched around a season as a head coach at the prep-school level with St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass. She moved into hockey operations with the East Coast Wizards under-19 program, and was a development camp skills coach and on-ice director for USA Hockey.

All of that experience led to a role as the deputy commissioner and director of player development for the National Women’s Hockey League. She also had two stops with the NWHL’s Boston Pride as both general manager and president, winning the league’s Isobel Cup in 2015-16 with a 30-4-1 record.

Moore stepped into the AHL just as new president and CEO Scott Howson was rebuilding the league’s front office following the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020. Even without a pandemic, managing the league’s hockey operations is a tricky balance in the best of times — “It’s not an easy job by any means,” Moore said — but a passion for the game serves as her foundation through those challenges. So has her time on the ice, which included that captaincy at Brown as well as at Cushing Academy.

“There’s going to be adversity in anything that you do,” Moore continued, “and if you know that there is a reason why you’re doing it and why you’re so passionate, that helps you get through the adversity and the tough times. I think specifically something that I’ve tried to do is just empathize with the people I work with and see the varying perspectives.

“My experience has helped guide the perspectives that I take from the league’s side of things and has really helped me understand where all parties are coming from.”

The AHL’s 14-person front office staff includes (l. to r.) coordinator of marketing services Amanda Desaulniers, social media specialist Morgan Price, VP of hockey operations Hayley Moore, VP of team business services Courtney Perzan, VP of hockey operations/governance Melissa Caruso and manager of hockey administration Alison Izzi.

Moore believes that her extensive background in women’s hockey prepared her well for her AHL role as well.

“I don’t think people necessarily recognize the amount of adversity that we generally have faced in the women’s game until you live it,” Moore explained. “But I know that for me and so many of my peers and colleagues, the lack of resources or the lack of respect — those are things that we’ve really had to break down.

“We’ve had to fight through so many challenges that it’s really given me — and everyone I know who’s had similar experiences — the tools to be able to work through adversity.”

Of course, taking this position with the AHL meant stepping away from a life that had been spent pursuing championships as both a player and executive, and that has been a shift for Moore.

She has a new team now, however.

“They’re my team,” Moore said of her colleagues around the AHL. “I’ve found that there are so many rewards to being able to serve so many different teams, and to be able to work and advocate for all of our teams across the league has its own set of rewards.

“I still very much feel like I’m part of a team.”

Moore’s move through hockey represents a growing role for women. She also bridges different waves of women breaking into the sport, opening new areas of the game to a more diverse field.

“I’m so grateful for all the women who have come before me and the people who believe in me and respect me,” Moore continued. “Those are the people that have opened the doors and inspired and encouraged me to be in the seat that I’m in today.

“[NWHL founder and former commissioner] Dani Rylan Kearney, the way she empowered me as a leader is something that I will be forever grateful for. She really showed me that to be resilient is one of the best things that you can be in this industry.”

Last season, the AHL added 10 women to its roster of on-ice officials for the first time. Jessica Campbell became the AHL’s first female assistant coach when she took a post with the Coachella Valley Firebirds last summer. Emily Engel-Natzke worked with the Hershey Bears for two seasons as their video coach before advancing to the Washington Capitals. Last season Aisha Visram, the head athletic trainer for the Ontario Reign, became the first woman in Los Angeles Kings history to work a game from the bench.

Photo: Boston Pride

“I think there’s more of a general sense of openness to it, and we’ve come a really long way,” Moore said. “I can see the transition that has happened just in the past five years, but there’s still a long way that we need to continue to go to make the sport more inclusive to everyone.

“I wanted to make a transition from coaching to hockey operations pretty early in my career. I applied for a number of jobs specifically in hockey operations on the men’s side of the game, mostly in college hockey, and I couldn’t get an interview anywhere.

“It’s taken some time, I think, for people to be open to women applying to these types of roles and jobs.”

But when she did secure this role with the AHL, she found a welcoming environment.

“In women’s hockey we were building everything from scratch, so to speak, and that history and that foundation wasn’t laid,” Moore elaborated. “So when I came over to the AHL in this role and recognized how much of a foundation has been built and how much collaboration there is, that was mind-blowing, to say the least.

“It was refreshing to see how many people wanted to help.”

With women now holding roles as on-ice officials, coaches, trainers and front-office executives, Moore sees more growth ahead.

“I want every woman to be able to apply for any job they want and feel confident. I want more opportunities to exist within the game for anyone, no matter what gender they are, what race they are, what their background is. That is something that I do think about every day.”

She also senses that more is ahead for the next wave of women both in the AHL as well as the sport.

“Hopefully we just continue to break down those walls and work together as hockey professionals and people that are passionate about the sport,” Moore said. “At the AHL, we really want to be leaders and try to drive change in the hockey community.”

And for the future generations?

“I want them to know that their options are endless. There really is no limit to what they can do or can be. I want everyone to know that no matter what the job is that’s out there they can and should go after it if it’s something that they want. Hard work and respect for all the relationships in your life can take you far.

“I keep what I call a rainy-day box in my e-mail folders, and any time I get some sort of positive feedback that could maybe turn a bad day around, I file it in the rainy-day box. And we’ve gotten inundated with positive responses from people about being inspired… Taking a daughter or granddaughter to a game — or even a son — and having them recognize that a female official may be somebody whose authority they need to respect one day when they’re on the ice. That’s where change happens. When you can see something, then you can dream it, and you can be it eventually.

“I’m excited really to see what the future holds, because I know it will be even brighter than it is today.”