Ice Hockey Wiki
Canadian Women's Hockey League
2018-19 CWHL season
Canadian Women's Hockey League logo.png
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 2007
No. of teams Canada (4 teams)
China (1 team)
United States (1 team)
Most recent champion(s) Calgary Inferno (2nd time)
Most championship(s) Les Canadiennes de Montreal (4 times)
TV partner(s) Rogers Sportsnet

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.


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,[1] but would not pay players.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] Among the changes included the Mississauga Chiefs, Ottawa Senators and Vaughan Flames teams ceasing operations,[6] 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 the Toronto Aeros after a former NWHL team that had moved to Mississauga in 2006. 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.[7] 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.[8] 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 leadership

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] The finances for the player's salaries is to come from the increased revenue in China.[10] 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.[10] 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.[12][13]

On July 19, 2018, inaugural league commissioner Brenda Andress announced she would be stepping down and Jayna Hefford was named the interim commissioner.[14][15] 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.[16][17]

Television coverage

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.

Discontinuing Operations

On March 31, 2019 the league's Board of Directors announced the decision to discontinue operations May 1, 2019. The reason stated was that the business model for the league has proven to be economically unsustainable.[18] It has been indicated by NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan that that league may take a look at adding Canadian based teams in Montreal and the Greater Toronto Area.[19] Rylan further stated that the Calgary franchise would not be viable unless a major donor helped with the cost of operating the team in the NWHL. That league already has a team in Boston and the Worcester Blades had relocated further out of the Greater Boston area with a move to Worcester, Massachusetts prior to the 2018-19 season. A movement had been building for the making of a larger single professional league for women in North America for several years.


Final teams

Team City Primary Arena Championships Clarkson Cups Formerly
Calgary Inferno Calgary, Alberta WinSport Canada 0 2 Alberta Honeybadgers (2011–12)
Les Canadiennes de Montreal Montreal, Quebec Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard 2 4 Montreal Stars (2007–15)
Markham Thunder Markham, Ontario Thornhill Community Centre 1 1 Brampton Thunder (1998–17)
Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays Shenzhen, China Shenzhen Dayun Arena 0 0
Toronto Furies Toronto, Ontario MasterCard Centre 1 1
Worcester Blades Worcester, Massachusetts Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center 2 2

Boston Blades (2010-2018)

Former teams

Team City Primary Arena Championships Clarkson Cups Formerly
Burlington Barracudas Burlington, Ontario Appleby Ice Center 0 0
Mississauga Chiefs Mississauga, Ontario Hershey Centre 0 0
Ottawa Senators Ottawa, Ontario Bell Sensplex 0 0 CWHL Capital Canucks
Phénix du Québec Montréal, Québec 0 0
Toronto Aeros Toronto, Ontario Iceland Mississauga
and MasterCard Centre
0 0
Vanke Rays Shenzhen, China


Shenzhen Dayun Arena 0 0
Vaughan Flames Vaughan, Ontario Vaughan Sports Village 0 0


Season Champion Points leader (team) Points leader (player)
2007–08 Brampton Thunder Montreal Stars (47) Jennifer Botterill (61)
2008–09 Montreal Stars Montreal Stars (49) Jayna Hefford (69)
2009–10 Minnesota Whitecaps Montreal Stars (48) Sabrina Harbec (55)
2010–11 Montreal Stars Montreal Stars (46) Caroline Ouellette (69)
2011–12 Montreal Stars Montreal Stars (51) Meghan Agosta (80)
2012–13 Boston Blades Boston Blades (39) Meghan Agosta-Marciano (46)
2013–14 Toronto Furies Montreal Stars (42) Ann-Sophie Bettez (40)
2014–15 Boston Blades Boston Blades (35) Rebecca Johnston (37)
2015–16 Calgary Inferno Les Canadiennes (42) Marie-Philip Poulin (46)
2016–17 Les Canadiennes Calgary Inferno (40) Jess Jones (37)
Marie-Philip Poulin (37)
2017–18 Markham Thunder Les Canadiennes (45) Kelli Stack (49)
2018-19 Calgary Inderno Calgary Inferno (47)


The first ever league draft was held on August 12, 2010, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. In the 2010 CWHL Draft, Olympic gold medallist Tessa Bonhomme was the first overall selection.[21]

First overall picks

Draft year Player Team College
2010 Tessa Bonhomme Toronto Aeros Ohio State Buckeyes
2011 Meghan Agosta Montreal Stars Mercyhurst Lakers
2012 Hillary Pattenden Alberta Honeybadgers Mercyhurst Lakers
2013 Jessica Wong Alberta Honeybadgers Minnesota–Duluth Bulldogs
2014 Laura Fortino Brampton Thunder Cornell Big Red
2015 Sarah Edney Brampton Thunder Harvard Crimson
2016 Kayla Tutino Boston Blades Boston Terriers
2017 Courtney Turner Boston Blades Union College Dutchwomen

All-time leaderboard

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

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)

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 exhibition

Date CWHL team NCAA school Score CWHL goal scorers
Oct. 25, 2011 Brampton Thunder Cornell Big Red women's ice hockey Cornell, 6–0[23] None
Nov. 2, 2011 Brampton Thunder Mercyhurst Lakers women's ice hockey Brampton, 3–1 Jayna Hefford, Jesse Scanzano, Vicki Bendus[24]
  • 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.[24] In the second period of said contest, Scanzano scored the game-winning goal as the Thunder defeated the Lakers by a 3–1 tally.[25]

See also


  1. Cleary, Martin (2007-09-30). Dreaming of a league of her own. Retrieved on 2014-07-18.
  2. Longman, Jeré. "Crashing the Boards and Cracking the Books", The New York Times, 2013-11-18. Retrieved on 17 November 2013. 
  3. "Players form new Canadian Women's Hockey League", The Star, September 27, 2007. 
  4. "Brampton Claims Inaugural CWHL Title", The Brampton News, March 25, 2008. 
  5. Elite Women's Hockey Action Starts (October 21, 2010).
  6. Ottawa Senators (June 7, 2010). NEWS - The "NEW" Canadian Women's Hockey League. Press release.
  7. Women's Elite Hockey "First Ever" Draft (August 12, 2010).
  8. Chimos Part of Merger With CWHL (April 25, 2011). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  9. Price, Satchel (2017-06-05). Canadian Women's Hockey League expanding to China next season. Retrieved on 2018-01-13.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Canadian Women's Hockey League will begin paying its players. The Globe and Mail (1 September 2017).
  11. CWHL announces it will pay players in 2017-18. Sportsnet (1 September 2017).
  12. Barnes, Katie (2018). CWHL's first transgender woman finds comfort, confidence in professional hockey. Retrieved on 2018-01-13.
  13. Jessica Platt, Toronto Furies hockey player, comes out as transgender. Retrieved on 2018-01-13.
  14. CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress to step down (18 July 2018).
  15. CWHL announce interim commissioner head hockey operations player development. CWHL. Retrieved on 20 July 2018.
  16. CWHL TO FEATURE SIX TEAMS IN 2018-19. CWHL (July 16, 2018).
  17. Maura Sun (3 August 2018). Kunlun Red Stars Announce Team Name Change. Canadian Women's Hockey League.
  20. 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 on 2018-01-13.
  21. Inside the CWHL: Inaugural draft makes women's hockey history (August 14, 2010). Archived from the original on January 3, 2011.
  22. Scott, Richard. Women's Hockey Review. Up North Productions. ISBN 9780991867158. 
  23. Hockey Game Box Score, Brampton vs. Cornell University (14 October 2011).
  24. 24.0 24.1 Mercyhurst Athletics – Women's Hockey Falls Short As Bendus And Scanzano Return. (2 November 2011). Retrieved on 2014-07-18.
  25. Brampton Thunder vs Mercyhurst College (Nov 02, 2011). (2011-11-02). Retrieved on 2014-07-18.

External links

League websites

News stories

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Canadian Women's Hockey League. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).