The inaugural PWHL season kicks off on New Year's Day

January 1, 2024
The Professional Women’s Hockey League’s (PWHL) first season kicks off today when the puck drops at 12:30 p.m. ET in Toronto.
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The inaugural PWHL season kicks off on New Year's Day

🏫 The history

The concept for the PWHL was born back in 2019 after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) folded that spring. The CWHL featured some of North America’s top players, including Team Canada’s and Team USA’s captains, Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight.

Rather than joining the National Women’s Hockey League (aka the NWHL, which later became the Premier Hockey Federation, aka the PHF), the players from the CWHL created the Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association (PWHPA) to advocate for a sustainable cross-border league.

  • Through selfless perseverance, the world’s top women’s hockey talent rallied together, forfeiting income and consistent chances to compete to build a league that future generations would be proud of.

Four years later, on June 29th, 2023, the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises (yes, as in that Billie Jean King) purchased the PHF. Finally, the future for one unified pro women’s hockey league began to take shape.

  • Even more impressive and important? The players of the PWHPA then signed a collective bargaining agreement, the first CBA ever to be ratified before the launch of a women’s sports league. Iconic.

⚙️ The set-up


The regular season will run from January to May, with the six inaugural teams — Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, New York, Boston and Minnesota — each playing 24 games (12 at home and 12 on the road).

  • International breaks are baked into the schedule in February and April, allowing players to compete in the Canada vs. U.S. Rivalry Series and the Women's World Hockey Championship.

Then comes the playoffs, featuring the regular season’s top four teams. The postseason will consist of two rounds of best-of-five series, all culminating with the champion etching their names in the history books. Shivers. 

🏒 The teams


❤️ Ottawa: This squad’s stars include forwards Brianne Jenner and Emily Clark and goalie Emerance Maschmeyer, the first players to sign with the PWHL. Tomorrow’s home opener, a sellout at the 7.5K-seat TD Place Arena, will set a North American attendance record for pro women's hockey. Only fitting that history’s being made in Canada’s capital.

💙 Toronto: Move over, boys in blue, Toronto’s PWHL team is the hottest ticket in town. They’ve already sold out all of their home games, and for good reason — their roster boasts hometown heroes Sarah Nurse (who holds the record for the most points in a single women's Olympics) and Natalie Spooner, both forwards. Outgrowing the stadium before their first game? HYFR.

❤️ Montréal: As expected, Captain Canada Marie-Philip Poulin will play forward for Montréal alongside a fellow proud Quebecer, goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens. Montreal will split their home games between two arenas, Place Bell (10K seats) and the Verdun Auditorium (4K). If you don’t already know some French, it might be time to learn.

💚 Boston: We all wondered where forward and reigning IIHF Player of the Year Hilary Knight would land, but of course, it had to be Boston. Beantown also nabbed Team USA goaltender and brick wall Aerin Frankel.

  • It’s going to be hard to hate this team, especially after hearing forward Alina Müller’s emotional interview at the PWHL Draft. But Bostonians will need to fuel up on Dunkin’ for the 45-minute drive out to the Tsongas Center (6.5K seats) for their home games.

💜 Minnesota: Minnesota may not be a city, but it sure is the “State of Hockey.” Case in point: With the league’s first-ever draft pick, they chose Minnesota native Taylor Heise. The team also touts fellow forward and speed demon Kendall Coyne Schofield, who served as the PWHPA’s president from 2019–2023. Expect great things in their 18K-seat, NHL–sized home arena.

🍎 New York: Everyone should be scared of New York women’s sports teams, including this one, which has the tallest goalies in the league and stand-out forwards Alex Carpenter and Abby Roque poised to go bar down. Get you a team that can do both.

  • Their home games will be split between UBS Arena on Long Island (17K seats) and Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut (10K). Big Apple, big fanbase.