A Quick Guide to the NWHL

Yesterday was National Women & Girls in Sports Day* so here’s a quick guide to the NHWL and why you should be watching it.

Currently playing its second season; The NWHL is North America’s first professional Women’s hockey league.  The National Women’s Hockey League was formed in 2015 and is the first to pay its players and it operates a salary cap system.  The teams compete for the Isobel Cup, appropriately named after Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy, daughter of Lord Stanley. The league held an entry draft in 2015 and many of the league’s players have represented their countries at Olympic and other levels. In 2016 the NHWL’s Boston Pride and CWHL’s Les Canadiennes played in the first Outdoor Women’s Classic at Gillette Stadium the same day as the NHL’s alumni game.

There are currently four teams playing in the NWHL

Boston Pride

The Pride play out of the Warrior Ice Arena in Boston and were the first (and so far only) team to win the Isobel Cup. Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight are the team’s captains and both have represented the USA in the Olympics and World Championships.  Goalie Brittany Ott won the league’s Goaltender of the Year award last season. So far this season, the Pride are on target for their second Isobel Cup having won 11 of 11 games so far.

Buffalo Beauts

Playing out of the HarborCenter in Buffalo, the Beauts were runners up last season, having just missed out on the Cup. Buffalo’s captain is Emily Pfalzer. Forward Kelly Steadman was last season’s All Star MVP and is one of the team captains for this season’s upcoming All Star Game. Buffalo are currently third in the league behind Boston and New York.

Connecticut whale

Named after Hartford’s more famous NHL team, the Whale play their home games at Northford Ice Pavilion and finished third last season. It’s easy to spot the Whale, they wear green, blue and white. Forward Kelly Babstock was the first Canadian born player to score in the league and Jessica Koizumi captained the team before retiring prior to the start of the 2016/17 season. The team currently has no captain. Connecticut are struggling somewhat and the team is currently last in the standings with 8 points from 13 games.

New York Riveters

Sharing the Prudential Center with the New Jersey Devils, the Riveters finished last in the inaugural season, but are currently second in the league. The battle between the Riveters and Beauts is tight with just two points separating the two. Forward Amanda Kessel is the league’s player of the week and will captain one of the All Star teams. Ashley Johnston captains the Riveters.

Should you watch the NWHL? Definitely. The league is one of the most accessible and often streams games live on YouTube.  Teams also regularly hold competitions on social media offering tickets. I’ve watched a few of the games on YouTube and they’re fun, high-scoring affairs. It’s easy to have preconceptions about women playing in what is a male-dominated sport, but the below game should cancel out any of those doubts. The NWHL is just as fast-flowing and physical as the NHL and has been a lot more fun to watch recently than my Red Wings.

If 14 goals isn’t worth watching, nothing is. To learn more about the NWHL, check out its website or follow Dan Rice on twitter. He knows his stuff.

 *timing is not my thing.

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