Women’s professional hockey is a booming business, with not just one but two major professional leagues, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) and the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), each having teams in Canada and the United States. The popularity of the sport amongst women has even caught the attention of the NHL, which this year will feature two all-star games with female players, one in Canada and one in the United States. The question is, has women’s ice hockey made the leap from elite sports leagues to every corner of the country?
The Growth Of Women’s Ice Hockey
The CWHL was founded in the early 2010s and came about due to the efforts of Philadelphia Flyers’ owner and president Paul Holmgren, who wanted to start a women’s hockey league that would be affiliated with the NHL. The league is Canada’s equivalent to the WNBA, with franchises based in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Edmonton, and features many big name players, such as Marie-Philip Poulin, Marie-Eve Lanouette, and Shannon Szabados. As of April 2021, the league had over 80,000 fans in 339 games, showing that the interest in women’s hockey is definitely there.
The NWHL began play in the winter of 2019, and is headquartered in New York City, with franchises in Newark, New Jersey and Hartford, Connecticut, attracting many big names, such as Jillian Dempsey, Hilary Knight, and Kaylea Uhrichski. The league also has a strong partnership with the WNBA, with players able to combine professional duties with the NWHL season, and vice versa. Many see the NWHL as a bridge to the future for women’s hockey, giving them professional opportunities, especially in the United States.
Why More And More Women Are Playing Hockey
The increased number of women playing hockey comes as no surprise, considering that the sport is now accepted by more people than ever before. One of the main factors behind this is the lack of gender segregation, which has allowed more opportunities for girls and women in general. The CWHL even has a “diversity officer” to promote inclusion and combat bullying.
Another factor is that the women’s game has become more sophisticated and easier to follow. While in the past women’s hockey was mainly played for fun in places like Canada and the United States, there has been a rise in popularity of the sport amongst professional teams, attracting fans and even players who would have never given it a thought. For example, the Boston Bruins have a “Bruin Nation” group on social media, made up of current and former players, who engage with their fans and keep them up to date on the latest news and offers relating to the team.
Where Do I Watch The Games?
The NHL has made it easy for hockey fans to follow the sport, with each team having a website and maintaining a social media presence. Some even go as far as to produce weekly shows, such as podcasts and Youtube videos, relating to the team. This is also true for the CWHL, with many games being broadcast live on CBC, ESPN3, or the NHL Network.
If you’re looking for a place to watch the games, there are a number of options. Both the CWHL and NWHL have websites that provide live game tickets, as well as details on upcoming games and rosters, with some tickets even being offered at a discounted rate. You can also follow the matches via the league’s social media channels, with many games having a dedicated hashtag, so you can keep up to date with everything that’s going on.
Where Do I Buy My Gear?
If you’re a fan of the game, then you’ll need the right gear to follow it. For the CWHL and NWHL, this means hockey jerseys, with some fans even going as far to create themed jerseys, such as the Maple Leaf for the Canadians, or the Texas Star for the Texan ladies. If you can’t find the jersey you want, there are a number of manufacturers, such as Bauer, CCM, and Graff, who produce hockey equipment designed for women. To ensure you get the right fit, check the sizing charts for each brand, as well as their websites, for the ladies’ specific products.
An important piece of gear for any hockey fan is a helmet. For the CWHL and NWHL, there are a number of choices, with the Atlanta Thrashers making a name for themselves with their innovative “ZoNy” helmet and shield system, which was first used in the 2018-19 season. You can also check out some of the other innovative designs, offered by top brands, such as Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and the New York Rangers.
What Should I Look Forward To?
The future of women’s hockey looks incredibly promising. With the NHL and the CWHL teaming up for two all-star games this year, as well as a number of other tournaments and exhibition games, it seems as though the sport is slowly but surely making its way to every corner of the country. In addition, with the growing popularity amongst women and girls, we could see the day when ice hockey becomes the national sport of Canada.
The increased media coverage and popularity of the sport has also led to more opportunities for women. Some of the biggest names in hockey have also noticed the talents of female players, with over 20 NHL players now playing in the CWHL, and there are numerous collegiate programs, such as Boston College, Harvard, and Princeton, where women’s hockey is a competitive sport.
Overall, it’s clear that the future of women’s ice hockey looks incredibly bright, with many players and fans alike looking forward to the day when the sport is available nationwide.