In its second season, the National Women's Hockey League will make more history Friday with the first openly transgender player on a U.S. pro sports team.
Harrison Browne is in his second season with the Buffalo Beauts, one of the NWHL's four clubs. But this will be the 23-year-old Canadian's first identifying as a man.
"My family is starting to come to grips with it, now it's my time to be known as who I am, to be authentic and to hear my name said right when I get a point, or see my name on a website," Browne told espnW's Michele Steele.
"On the ice, when I put that equipment on, I'm a hockey player. I don't think about who I'm playing with, I don't think I'm playing with women. I don't think I'm in the wrong body.
"Off the ice, I felt more comfortable having my friends call me what I wanted to be called, referring to me with the pronouns that I wanted. If anything, my product on the ice was let loose and I could be myself."
Harrison formerly identified as Hailey.
"Support has been a major thread of our team unity and success, and that goes beyond the rink."
We've got your back, Brownie. https://t.co/4XKJvZhkN9
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) October 7, 2016
Browne, or "Brownie" to his teammates, played on the junior circuit in Canada before going to University of Maine on a hockey scholarship. At Maine, Browne came out as transgender to coaches and planned to medically transition after college. But after hearing of the NWHL's formation as a senior at Maine in 2014, Browne postponed a transition until after a career in hockey.
"I'm still the same player, I'm still playing in the body that I did last year, I'm still the same exact person," he says. "I'm just a different name and different pronouns, that's it. I'm still Brownie."
NWHL founder and commissioner Dani Rylan told espnW the league is working on an official policy that will include transgender athletes.
"At the end of the day, Harrison is the same player he was last year," Rylan says. "We're here to support him. It's really not a big deal when you look at it, we're respecting his name, the pronouns and his request to be his authentic self."
Committed to being inclusive.
Tonight, Harrison Browne competes publicly for the first time as his authentic self. https://t.co/9RzQY64iqs
— NWHL (@NWHL) October 7, 2016
The Beauts open the season Friday night against the Boston Pride. The Pride edged the Beauts, 2-0, in the 2015-16 NWHL final. Browne had five goals and seven assists in 18 games last season.
The NWHL's two other franchises are in New York (Brooklyn) and Connecticut (Stamford).
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.