The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) is a professional woman’s ice hockey league that was established in Canada and America.
The NWHL is a relatively new league, having only been established in 2015 with only four teams originally; Boston Pride, Connecticut Whale, Buffalo Beauts and the Metropolitan Riveters.
Since the NWHL’s conception, the Toronto Six and the Minnesota Whitecaps have joined the league to bring the total amount of teams to six. For the first time, women were paid to play ice hockey.
The NWHL was subsequently the first professional women’s ice hockey league in Northern America and was built by women in order to give young players (and young girls in general) role models, representation and their own league to support while fuelling funding and awareness for the sport.
As a result, all of the teams involved with the league make sure to spend time with fans after every game, giving out autographs and building relationships.
Each season the teams compete to win the Isobel Cup: named after Lord Stanley’s (previous Governor General of Canada for whom the men’s ice hockey (NHL) championship cup is named) daughter, Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy. Lady Isobel is known to be one of the first female hockey players in Canada and had a huge passion for the sport.
Currently, there have been four winners of the Isobel Cup with no team winning twice: The Boston Pride won the first season (2015-16), followed by The Buffalo Beauts (2016-17), The Metropolitan Riveters (2017-18) and finally The Minnesota Whitecaps (2018-19). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league had to delay the 2019-20 season and thus there has been no consecutive winner for the cup.
Season six starts on the January 23 and can be watched for free on Twitch TV at twitch.tv/NWHL.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts.
Arena: Warrior Ice Arena.
Captain: Jillian Dempsey.
Head Coach: Paul Mara.
Notable players: Jillian Dempsey (Captain, forward), Lovisa Selander (goal tender), Tori Sullivan (forward).
Trivia: Hilary Knight scored the first goal of the NWHL franchise in the 2015 game against the Buffalo Beauts. In the same game Knight also recorded the first multi-goal game in NWHL history.
Colours: Black, gold and white.
Location: Monmouth Junction, New Jersey.
Arena: ProSkate Ice Arena.
Captain: Madison Packer.
Head Coach: Ivo Mocek.
Notable players: Madison Packer (Captain, forward), Rebecca Morse (defence) Tatyana Shatalova (forward).
Trivia: The team name and logo are named after the World War Two poster woman ‘Rosie The Riveter’ who was used as a motivational tactic for women who were left behind while their husbands went to war so that they would provide for the war effort.
Colours: Blue, red and white.
Arena: Canlan Ice Sports – York.
Captain: Currently unassigned.
Head Coach: Digit Murphy.
Notable players: Kelly Babstock (forward), Taylor Woods (forward), Emma Greco (defence).
Trivia: The Toronto Six will be the first Canadian team to play in the NWHL.
Colours: Red and gold.
Location: Danbury, Connecticut.
Arena: Danbury Ice Arena.
Captain: Shannon Doyle.
Head Coach: Colton Orr.
Notable players: Shannon Doyle (Captain, defence), Maddie Bishop (forward), Jordan Brickner (defence).
Trivia: The team won their first three games in franchise history with three different goal tenders.
Colours: White, blue and green.
Location: Minneapolis – Saint Paul.
Arena: TRIA Rink
Captain: Winny Brodt Brown.
Head Coach: Jack Brodt.
Notable players: Amanda Levielle (goal tender), Allie Morse (goal tender), Allie Thunstrom (forward).
Trivia: The Whitecaps were founded by two fathers, Jack Brodt and Dwayne Schmidgall in 2004 because they wanted their daughters to have somewhere to play after college.
Colours: Black, white, blue and silver.
Location: Amherst, New York.
Arena: Northtown Center.
Captain: Taylor Accursi.
Head Coach: Pete Perram.
Notable players: Lisa Chesson (defence), Marie-Jo Pelletier (defence), Taylor Accursi (Captain, forward).
Trivia: In October 2017 forward Harrison Browne came out as a transgender man and thus became the only openly transgender athlete in American team sports.
Colours: Blue, black, silver and white.
Featured image credit: NWHL