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National Women's Hockey League (2015–)

National Women's Hockey League
Current season or competition:
2015–16 NWHL season
Countries United States
Region(s) Northeast
Commissioner Dani Rylan
Founded 2015
No. of teams 4
Championship Isobel Cup
Headquarters New York, New York

The National Women's Hockey League is an American women's professional ice hockey league. Established in 2015, the league comprises four teams: the Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale.[1] The league's championship trophy is the Isobel Cup, named after Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy, the daughter of Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, donor of the Stanley Cup.[2]

Dani Rylan is the league's founder and commissioner.[3]


  • History 1
  • Teams 2
    • Current teams 2.1
  • Seasons 3
    • 2015-16 3.1
  • References 4


The formation of the NWHL was announced in March 2015. The league holds the distinction of being the first U.S women's professional hockey league to pay its players. Prior to the League's formation the only choice for top level professional women's hockey in North America was the Canadian Women's Hockey League which is unpaid. The league runs on a salary cap of US $270,000 maximum per team and of $10,000 minimum per player.[4] The players can also make additional revenue by way of a right to 15% of profits off any NWHL jersey sold with their name on it. Equipment is also provided to the players by the league. The league placed its four original teams in what it considered to be strong traditional hockey markets where support would be strongest: in the New York City area, Buffalo and New England.

The inaugural NWHL Entry Draft took place in Boston on June 20. The league held tryout camps in various locales in Canada along with an international player camp in Boston.[5] In addition, due to the paid nature of the league and its placement in the Northeastern United States, the league attracted many top level United States women's national ice hockey team stars from the CWHL such as Hilary Knight, former Team USA captain Meghan Duggan and others, as well as top graduating players from the NCAA and international players. The league is recognized by USA Hockey as the top women's professional league.[6]


The league consists of four teams concentrated in the Northeast.

Current teams

Team City Primary Arena Head Coach Isobel Cups
Boston Pride Allston, MA Bright Hockey Center at Harvard Bobby Jay 0
Buffalo Beauts Buffalo, NY HarborCenter Shelley Looney 0
Connecticut Whale Stamford, CT Chelsea Piers Connecticut Jake Mastel 0
New York Riveters Brooklyn, NY Aviator Sports & Events Center Chad Wiseman 0



The inaugural NWHL Entry Draft took place in Boston on June 20. The draft order was decided on June 8 by lottery: the New York Riveters to pick first, followed by the Connecticut Whale, the Boston Pride, and the Buffalo Beauts.[7] The first overall pick by the Riveters was Boston College graduate Alex Carpenter, the 2015 winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award for the most outstanding player in NCAA women's hockey, and the daughter of National Hockey League All-Star Bobby Carpenter. The other first round picks were University of Minnesota forward Hannah Brandt by Connecticut, Northeastern University forward Kendall Coyne by Boston, and University of Wisconsin defenseman Courtney Burke by Buffalo.

The first game in league history, between the New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale on October 11, 2015, sold out.[8] Manon Rheaume dropped the puck in the ceremonial opening faceoff before that game.[9] The first goal in league history, in a 4-1 win by the host Whale, was scored by Jessica Koizumi of Connecticut.[10]


  1. ^ Neale, Jen (March 26, 2015). "NWHL, new women’s hockey league, promises to pay players". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Fink, James (April 16, 2015). "Buffalo Beauts to play at HarborCenter". Buffalo Business First. 
  3. ^ Clinton, Jared (March 26, 2015). "National Women’s Hockey League set to begin in 2015-16, will pay players". The Hockey News (Longueuil, PQ). Retrieved April 11, 2015. 
  4. ^ Cimini, Kaitlin (September 30, 2015). "NWHL Release of Player Finances Raises Questions". Today's Slapshot. 
  5. ^ Clinton, Jared (July 2, 2015). "NWHL to hold first Canadian-based free agent camps". The Hockey News (Longueuil, PQ). 
  6. ^ "U.S. Women's Players Highlight NWHL Rosters". Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  7. ^ Zoë Hayden (9 June 2015). "Women's Hockey News Roundup, 6/9". Stanley Cup of Chowder. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Clinton, Jared (October 7, 2015). "NWHL sells out inaugural game, Manon Rheaume to drop ceremonial puck in Buffalo". The Hockey News (Longueuil, PQ). 
  9. ^ Blinn, Michael (2015-09-23). "NWHL opens play: Meghan Duggan, players' have long-term focus - NHL". Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  10. ^ Clinton, Jared (October 11, 2015). "Watch Jessica Koizumi enter the record books with first goal in NWHL history". The Hockey News (Longueuil, PQ). 
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