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  • Writer's pictureJoe Koch

The Launch of the PWHL

A new generation of Professional Women’s Hockey has been introduced and it’s here to stay

By: Joe Koch

February 20, 2024

Photo Credit: Sporting Her

At the start of the new year, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) was launched, being a first-of-a-kind hockey league. Prior to the PWHL, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) co-existed in a two league dynamic. With two leagues running in North America at the same time, both struggled with broadcasting and partnerships deals. The PWHL aims to revolutionize this landscape through one conjoined league.

The PWHL includes a new “Original Six”, similar to the NHL, with teams in Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto. Owned and operated by the Mark Walter Group, best known for owning the Los Angeles Dodgers, the PWHL has seen instant success. The opening game between Toronto and New York drew in 2.9 million viewers across Canada’s primary sports broadcasting networks. The PWHL’s Youtube Channel, where you can stream every game for free, had 130,000 total viewers as well.

The success did not stop with just the high viewership numbers during opening weekend. Minnesota recorded an attendance of 13,316 at their home opener, the largest ever attended women’s hockey game at the time. That was then topped recently on February 16 for a game between Toronto and Montreal, known as “The Battle of Bay Street.” The game set an attendance record of 19,285. Only two teams in the NHL had an average season attendance higher compared to the match between Toronto and Montreal. 

There are a few differences with the PWHL when it comes to rules and regulations. The point system is different compared to the NHL. In the PWHL, you are awarded three points for a win, two for an overtime win, one for an overtime loss, and zero for a regulation loss. The NHL does not award three points for a win, instead only two. Additionally, a short-handed goal on a penalty leads to the end of a "power play," which has created a lot of interest amongst fans and players. As multiple venues consistently sell out games and viewership numbers continue to steadily increase, there proves to be a genuine interest amongst fans in the game. 

Having a different spin towards the game of hockey has helped the PWHL in gaining a larger following amongst a diverse set of fans. Being one month from the initial launch, women’s hockey is continuing to grow, and the league has no intent of stopping any time soon.


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