A new era begins: the professional women’s hockey league unveiled

MINNESOTA CELEBRATES after their first goal of the night against New York (The Athletic).

February 30, 2024

Charlotte Yeskulsky | Head Editor

In a groundbreaking move, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) kicked off its inaugural season in January, marking a significant moment for women’s hockey enthusiasts. Spearheaded by billionaire backer Mark Walter and a team of pioneering sports minds, the PWHL emerged after the dissolution of the Premier Hockey Federation, presenting itself as a first-of-its-kind women’s hockey league.

The genesis of the PWHL can be traced back to 2019 when top women’s hockey players globally began boycotting existing leagues due to the lack of compensation. Around 200 players, united under the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, demanded resources equal with the professional stature of the sport. The league officially took shape after a partnering agreement was reached between the players’ association and Mark Walter, owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, in 2022.

BOSTON players inspire the next generation of young girls in their opening match against Ottawa (People).

Governed by a board of directors featuring luminaries like Billie Jean King and former major league sports executives, the PWHL consists of six teams – Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto. While these teams are yet to unveil official names, their rosters, comprised of 23 players each, were determined through a 15-round draft held in September.

The regular season is scheduled to run from January to early May, culminating in a playoff tournament in June to determine the league’s first champion. Notable players, such as Taylor Heise, the draft’s overall No. 1 pick and MVP at the 2022 World Championships, lead teams like Minnesota. Other seasoned athletes, including Olympic gold medalist Kendall Schofield and forward Sarah Nurse, bring their prowess to teams like Toronto and Boston, promising an exciting and competitive season.

On January 1st, the league held its first match where New York defeated Toronto with a 4-0 win. Ella Shelton scored the first goal in PWHL history and Corinne Schroeder earned the first shutout. While the attendance of this game, 8,318 set a record within itself, it was shattered the next day in Minnesota with a total of 13,316 fans.

While the official streaming partners are still not completely set, Bally Sports is carrying all 24 games as well as they are being streamed from Youtube. The league’s priority is to have every game broadcasted on television and maintain a widespread audience. After talking with junior Karly Coury, she said that she was “excited to see women’s hockey get more publicity”.  The CBC, for its Canadian viewers, plans to stream most regular-season games. Drawing from the successful streaming model of the preceding league, the PWHL’s commitment to accessibility promises a dynamic viewing experience for fans. And as Junior Sarah Ellis admitted, “the game is going to grow so much more with easier access”.

As the PWHL continues to make history, it not only fills a void for top women’s hockey players but also opens new avenues for fans to witness the skill, passion, and intensity of women’s hockey at the highest level. The league’s emphasis on equality, fair compensation, and a commitment to showcasing the best talent worldwide positions it as a beacon for the future of women’s professional hockey.

About Charlotte Yeskulsky 11 Articles
Charlotte Yeskulsky is a Junior at San Clemente High School and is entering her first year as a writer for the Triton Times. She is excited to join the community of people involved as well as spread information about current events. She loves to support her school and is a member of both the varsity soccer and lacrosse teams. In her small amount of spare time, Charlotte enjoys hanging out with her friends and family as well as surfing after school.

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