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Canadian Women's Hockey League

The Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) is a professional women's ice hockey league. Established in 2007, the league comprises six teams located within Canada, China, and the United States.

Canadian Women's Hockey League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2018–19 CWHL season
Canadian Women's Hockey League logo.png
SportIce hockey
CommissionerJayna Hefford (interim)
No. of teamsCanada (4 teams)
China (1 team)
United States (1 team)
United States
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario, Canada[1]
Most recent
Markham Thunder (1st time)
Most titlesLes Canadiennes de Montreal (4 times)
TV partner(s)Rogers Sportsnet



The CWHL was an initiative spearheaded by players such as Lisa-Marie Breton, Allyson Fox, Kathleen Kauth, Kim McCullough, Sami Jo Small and Jennifer Botterill, all of whom played in the recently disbanded (in 2007) National Women's Hockey League. The players worked with a group of volunteer business people to form the CWHL by following the example of the National Lacrosse League. The league would be responsible for all travel, ice rental and uniform costs, plus some equipment,[2] but would not pay players.[3]

In 2007, Hockey Canada announced it would revamp the Esso Women's Nationals, with the Western Women's Hockey League champion and finalist meeting the Canadian Women's Hockey League champion and finalist.[4] Beginning in 2009, teams from the two leagues competed for the Clarkson Cup at the end of the season until the leagues effectively merged in 2011. The Clarkson Cup would then become the playoff championship trophy for the CWHL.

The Brampton Canadettes Thunder won the first CWHL championship on 22 March 2008, winning 4–3 over the Mississauga Chiefs in the final.[5]

In 2008–09, the Montreal Stars repeated as regular season champions, winning 25 of 30 games, and won CWHL Championship. The Stars would also go on to win the first Clarkson Cup over the Minnesota Whitecaps. The Stars would also take a third straight regular season championship the following season. However, the CWHL did not have an individual playoff champion in 2010 but would instead have a Clarkson Cup qualifying playoff for the third team. The Stars and Mississauga Chiefs qualified for the Cup tournament from their regular season records and the Brampton Thunder qualified through the playoff. The Thunder then played themselves into the Clarkson Cup final but lost to the Whitecaps.

Prior to the 2010–11 season, the league underwent a structural reorganization. The CWHL considered the restructure a relaunch of the league.[6] Among the changes included the Mississauga Chiefs, Ottawa Senators and Vaughan Flames teams ceasing operations,[7] adding a new team in Toronto, and expanding into the United States with a team in Boston. The relaunch also branded the five teams after their respective locations, simply calling them Boston CWHL, Brampton CWHL, Burlington CWHL, Montreal CWHL, and Toronto CWHL. However, the CWHL teams that were playing in previous markets were commonly referred to as their former names, the Boston team called itself the Boston Blades, and the new Toronto team was sometimes called Toronto HC. The league also held its first player draft, although it was only for the three Greater Toronto Area teams as the league decided that since they do not pay a salary, it would be unfair to force players to be based outside their hometown.[8] All five teams returned to having monikers and Toronto was officially branded as the Toronto Furies.

The league announced on April 19, 2011, that it would merge with the Western Women's Hockey League for the 2011–12 season. The merger featured one team based in both Edmonton and Calgary as a combination of the former WWHL franchises the Edmonton Chimos and Strathmore Rockies. The team (called Team Alberta) played their games in various locations around Alberta.[9] The WWHL then denied that there was in fact no merger and that the WWHL would continue for the 2011–12 season with two new teams joining the league. Strathmore and Edmonton were welcome to depart the WWHL but the league would not disband as initially reported by the CWHL through various media outlets. However, WWHL effectively ceased operations with only two members (the Whitecaps and Manitoba Maple Leafs) playing a series of exhibition games against various teams and the Clarkson Cup became a CWHL-only championship.

Changes continued in 2012 with the Burlington Barracudas folding and Team Alberta taking on the nickname "Honeybadgers". The league also created a draft system whereby players in Boston, Alberta, and Montreal could choose which team they would play on, but players in the Toronto area could be forced to play for one of the two remaining Greater Toronto Area (GTA) teams, Brampton or Toronto. Further, a player's pre-draft declaration of the regional area in which they wished to play could be altered after the draft. As a result of these rules, players wishing to leave GTA teams to play in Boston, Alberta, or Montreal could do so as desired, without compensation to the GTA team that they left. Players who wished to leave one GTA team to go to the other GTA team could only be moved upon a trade between the teams.

On November 13, 2012, in a reversal from its previous position that sponsorships could not be directed to a particular team, the CWHL announced that the Toronto Furies would be partnering with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League in a multi-year deal by which the Maple Leafs would provide funding for coaches, equipment and travel expenses. The CWHL announced a similar partnership between the Alberta Honeybadgers team and the Calgary Flames, the Honeybadgers would then rebrand as the Calgary Inferno the following season. The Montreal Stars would follow the trend in 2015 with a partnership with the Montreal Canadiens by becoming Les Canadiennes.

The league held its 1st Canadian Women's Hockey League All-Star Game on December 13, 2014, at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.

Expansion into China and new leadershipEdit

It was announced on June 5, 2017, that the CWHL was expanding to China with Kunlun Red Star WIH, a team controlled by Kunlun Red Star of the Kontinental Hockey League and the Vanke Rays. Each team is to play six games against its five rivals for a total of 30 games, 15 at home and 15 on the road. Travel costs will be minimized by having each North America-based team make one road trip to China to play a three-game series. Kunlun Red Star's road games would likewise be grouped into five three-game series.[10] The announced reason for the China expansion is for the nation to develop its hockey teams in preparation for its recently awarded 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing.[11]

Along with its expansion into China for the 2017–18 season, the league announced it would also begin paying its players for the first time.[12] The finances for the player's salaries is to come from the increased revenue in China.[11] Each player is set to make a minimum of $2,000 per season and a maximum of $10,000 with a team salary cap of $100,000.[11] At the time of the announcement, it made the league the second fully professional women's hockey league in North America after the launch of the rival National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) in the United States in 2015.

In 2018, CWHL player Jessica Platt came out as a transgender woman, making her the first transgender woman to come out in North American professional hockey, and second transgender professional player after Harrison Browne came out as a transgender man in the NWHL in 2016.[13][14]

On July 19, 2018, inaugural league commissioner Brenda Andress announced she would be stepping down and Jayna Hefford was named the interim commissioner.[15][16] The league also consolidated their Chinese teams by ending the membership of the Vanke Rays and rebranding Kunlun Red Star as Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays.[17][18]

Television coverageEdit

Since 2014–15, specialty television channel Sportsnet airs the playoffs and the All-Star Game. The most watched game has been the February 4, 2017 game between Montreal and Toronto, which averaged 136,400 viewers.




All-time leaderboardEdit

All-time leading scorers (2007–08 to 2014–15)Edit

The annual CWHL scoring champion wins the Angela James Bowl. In 2011–12, rookie Meghan Agosta set a CWHL single-season record with 80 points.

Player Team Games Goals Assists Points
Caroline Ouellette Montréal 124 100 146 246
Jayna Hefford Brampton 128 130 104 234
Noémie Marin Montréal 134 101 96 197
Jennifer Botterill Mississauga, Toronto 76 62 92 154
Lori Dupuis Brampton 153 63 86 149
Sommer West Mississauga, Burlington, Toronto 126 60 89 149
Sabrina Harbec Montréal 85 49 90 139
Gillian Apps Brampton 126 68 66 134
Jana (Harrigan) Head Burlington, Brampton 140 64 70 134
Meghan Agosta Montréal 50 57 69 126


All-time leaders in shutouts (2007–08 to 2014–15)Edit

Most shutouts during the CWHL regular season. Kim St-Pierre (2008–09) and Sami Jo Small (2009–10) hold the single-season record with five shutouts.

Player Team Shutouts
Sami Jo Small Mississauga, Toronto 15
Jenny Lavigne Montréal 8
Kim St-Pierre Montréal 8
Mandy Cronin Brampton, Burlington, Boston 6

NCAA exhibitionEdit

Date CWHL team NCAA school Score CWHL goal scorers
Oct. 25, 2011 Brampton Thunder Cornell Big Red women's ice hockey Cornell, 6–0[22] None
Nov. 2, 2011 Brampton Thunder Mercyhurst Lakers women's ice hockey Brampton, 3–1 Jayna Hefford, Jesse Scanzano, Vicki Bendus[23]
  • On November 2, 2011, Scanzano was on loan from the Toronto Furies, as she appeared in one game for the Brampton Thunder. The game was an exhibition contest versus her alma mater, the Mercyhurst Lakers.[23] In the second period of said contest, Scanzano scored the game-winning goal as the Thunder defeated the Lakers by a 3–1 tally.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Contact - Canadian Women's Hockey League". Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  2. ^ Cleary, Martin (2007-09-30). "Dreaming of a league of her own". Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  3. ^ Longman, Jeré (2013-11-18). "Crashing the Boards and Cracking the Books". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Players form new Canadian Women's Hockey League". The Star. Toronto. September 27, 2007.
  5. ^ "Brampton Claims Inaugural CWHL Title". The Brampton News. March 25, 2008.
  6. ^ "Elite Women's Hockey Action Starts". October 21, 2010. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010.
  7. ^ "NEWS - The "NEW" Canadian Women's Hockey League" (Press release). Ottawa Senators. June 7, 2010. Archived from the original on July 18, 2018. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  8. ^ "Women's Elite Hockey "First Ever" Draft". August 12, 2010. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010.
  9. ^ "Chimos Part of Merger With CWHL". April 25, 2011. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  10. ^ Price, Satchel (2017-06-05). "Canadian Women's Hockey League expanding to China next season". Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  11. ^ a b c "Canadian Women's Hockey League will begin paying its players". The Globe and Mail. 1 September 2017.
  12. ^ "CWHL announces it will pay players in 2017-18". Sportsnet. 1 September 2017.
  13. ^ Barnes, Katie (2018). "CWHL's first transgender woman finds comfort, confidence in professional hockey". Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  14. ^ "Jessica Platt, Toronto Furies hockey player, comes out as transgender". Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  15. ^ "CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress to step down". 18 July 2018.
  16. ^ "CWHL announce interim commissioner head hockey operations player development". CWHL. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  17. ^ "CWHL TO FEATURE SIX TEAMS IN 2018-19". CWHL. July 16, 2018.
  18. ^ Maura Sun (3 August 2018). "Kunlun Red Stars Announce Team Name Change". Canadian Women's Hockey League. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  19. ^ Mike Murphy (2017-07-25). "Mike Murphy on Twitter: "It looks like the 2nd Chinese team in the CWHL is the "Vanke Rays", also located in Shenzen, China. Logo here. s/t to @fosterwrites"". Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  20. ^ "Inside the CWHL: Inaugural draft makes women's hockey history". August 14, 2010. Archived from the original on January 3, 2011.
  21. ^ Scott, Richard. Women's Hockey Review (PDF). Up North Productions. ISBN 9780991867158.
  22. ^ "Hockey Game Box Score, Brampton vs. Cornell University" (PDF). 14 October 2011.
  23. ^ a b "Mercyhurst Athletics – Women's Hockey Falls Short As Bendus And Scanzano Return". 2 November 2011. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  24. ^ "Brampton Thunder vs Mercyhurst College (Nov 02, 2011)". 2011-11-02. Retrieved 2014-07-18.

External linksEdit