Players 'Pinching Themselves' as New Hockey League Begins

New York shuts out Toronto 4-0 in inaugural game of Professional Women's Hockey League
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2024 7:21 AM CST
'New Era' in Women's Pro Hockey Begins
A Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL) logo is seen on a player's jersey during training camp at TD Place in Ottawa, Ontario, on Nov. 17.   (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Jan. 1 was a fresh start for us all—and the beginning of a "new era for women's hockey," courtesy of the inaugural game of the Professional Women's Hockey League, a six-team venture that features some of the world's best female athletes on the ice, reports the Star Tribune. The as-yet unnamed PWHL teams, featuring 23 players each, represent a half-dozen US and Canadian regions, including New York, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Minnesota, with players hailing from NCAA championship teams and Olympic rosters.

All six teams in the league are owned by Los Angeles Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter and his wife, Kimbra. Walter also owns the WNBA's LA Sparks and is a part owner of the LA Lakers and Chelsea FC soccer club. Tennis icon Billie Jean King is among the PWHL's new board members. The AP notes that tickets are selling fast in many of the participating regions, with Toronto's 12 home games already basically sold out.

So how did the first PWHL game go on Monday? New York faced off against Toronto in the latter's hometown, shutting out their Canadian counterparts 4-0, per the CBC. "I think the emotions are just surreal right now," New York defender Ella Shelton, who scored the league's very first goal, said during a game intermission. "This crowd and coming to play your first professional hockey game in 2024, it's quite the bang to start off the year."

story continues below

King agrees on the high spirits. "The women are so excited," she says. "They keep pinching themselves. I don't think people realize the yearning that's gone on for generations for this." People offers a primer on the new league, including who the best players are. For now, games can be seen on the league's YouTube channel and local outlets. The next matchup is Wednesday in Boston, between that city's team and Minnesota's. (More women's hockey stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.