Redefining women’s hockey
A fresh sheet of ice for women in hockey.

Following a tumultuous path to worldwide recognition, it seemed that women in hockey would never get the same level of spotlight they rightfully deserved when compared to their male counterparts. Countless attempts were made, but the most notable was with the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) in March 2015. The Federation sought to allow seven teams from across Canada and the US to face off against each other for the Federation’s crowning achievement—the Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Cup. These seven teams included the Boston Pride, the Buffalo Beauts, the Connecticut Whales, the Metropolitan Riveters, the Minnesota Whitecaps, the Montréal Force, and the Toronto Six. 

Out of these teams, the top four in the standings would move on to the PHF playoffs, in which the first-place team would play the team in fourth-place, and the second and third place teams would face each other, respectively. These playoff rounds would be in a best-of-three style, with the winning teams from each round facing each other in the Isobel Cup final series—also a best-of-three. 

It was clear that the Federation made its long-overdue mark on the hockey world for young girls everywhere. Shortly after the Toronto Six defeated the Minnesota Whitecaps and were awarded the 2023 Isobel Cup, it was announced that a new Pro Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) would launch in 2024. This meant the lights in the PHF arenas would shut down—but this news was far from unfortunate. The players and the staff of the Federation threw their hands up in celebration knowing that their hard work had paid off, and that the light shining on women in hockey would only grow brighter from this point forward. 

Almost a year after this announcement, the PWHL is alive and thriving, with teams in Minnesota, Montréal, Boston, Ottawa, Toronto, and New York. After an explosive New Year’s Day start to their season, raking in 2.9 million viewers in a game between New York and Toronto, the necessity for women’s hockey was only reinforced. Interest has spiked higher and higher each following week. In a unique collaboration with the MLSE and the NHL, Toronto’s February 16 matchup against Montréal was announced to be held at the Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The stands were packed with avid young fans eager to see both teams hash it out. The attendance at this game turned out to be a record-breaking 19,285, the highest attendance of any game played in the history of women’s hockey. 

Adding to the buzz around the PWHL, the League made their first-ever announcement regarding its playoff structure earlier this week. It has long been argued amongst viewers of the NHL that predicted playoff matchups from overall league standings in December have almost no change when refreshed in March due to the league’s set format, which makes for an overall dull season. This is why the PWHL’s announcement of their playoff structure enlightened fans. 

They vow to keep the entire regular season constantly engaging, as they are taking the top four teams out of the total six to the playoffs and will allow the first-place team a 24-hour window to choose any of the other three teams as their opponent. The fun does not stop there, though—after the top four are decided, the remaining two teams at the bottom of the standings will begin accumulating points toward their draft order in what the PWHL calls its “Gold Plan.” From the time that they are “mathematically eliminated,” meaning they do not have a chance to make their way into the top four in the standings, the bottom teams will fight to still get as many points as possible, with these points determining their position in the PWHL Draft—the higher the points, the higher the position. 

After a bombastic start to their first-ever season, the PWHL just continues to show the world how fun the game of hockey can truly be, inspiring young girls just that much more to pick up their very own hockey stick. 

Photos Editor (Volume 50) — Daanish is wrapping up his final year at UTM, majoring in Technology, Coding & Society, and minoring in Mathematics and Cinema Studies. He's aware of how odd that combination is, but that is enough to describe him in a nutshell. Carrying his cameras wherever he goes, you can find Daanish furiously writing Letterboxd reviews, cheering on the Maple Leafs, and blasting the Jonas Brothers any chance he gets.


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