National Women’s Hockey League set to begin in 2015-16, will pay players

Jared Clinton
NWHL promotional video (via NWHL/YouTube)

Less than three weeks after the CWHL handed out the Clarkson Cup to the Boston Blades, news comes that next season they’ll have to compete with a rival women’s league… and a rival league that can pay its players.

Puck Daddy’s Jen Neale reported this afternoon the league, spawned by Dani Rylan and former Team USA superstar Angela Ruggiero, will begin its inaugural season in 2015-16. With four teams spread across the Northeastern United States, the four team league hopes it can coincide with the CWHL while giving women’s players another option, one that will offer them pay and takes the onus off of its players to find time, money and resources to compete in the league. Read more

Shannon Szabados dominates competition in SPHL, named Player of the Week

Jared Clinton
Shannon Szabados (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

A dream season for Shannon Szabados keeps getting better. With wins over Huntsville and Knoxville, Szabados was named the SPHL Player of the Week for the second time this season.

In her two victories, Szabados, who plays for the SPHL’s Columbus Cottonmouths, posted a 1.00 goals-against average and monster .970 save percentage. In Tuesday game against Huntsville, Szabados stopped 34 of the 35 shots she faced and turned aside 16 of 17 attempts Friday against Knoxville. Read more

Canadiens support women’s hockey, enter partnership with CWHL’s Montreal Stars

Adam Proteau
Toronto Furies forward Natalie Spooner and Montreal Stars forward Julie Chu shake hands after the semi-final game of the 2014 Clarkson Cup. (Richard Lautens, Toronto Star via Getty Images)

In thrilling news for elite women’s hockey and young women playing the game at all levels, the Montreal Canadiens strengthened the NHL’s connection to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Thursday by announcing a partnership with the league’s most successful team, the Montreal Stars.

“With the growing popularity of women’s hockey over the last decade, I think this is the right time to concretely support women who play professional hockey, and, at the same time, promote the sport among up-and-coming players,” Canadiens president Geoff Molson said in a news release. Read more

Hayley Wickenheiser pays tribute to bravery of Grace Bowen, a young girl who battled cancer until the end

Adam Proteau
Hayley Wickenheiser and Grace Bowen attend Canada's Walk Of Fame Awards Oct. 18, 2014 in Toronto. (George Pimentel/WireImage)

Through her play on the ice and her commitment to her community off of it, women’s hockey icon Hayley Wickenheiser has inspired millions of hockey-playing women and Canadians from all backgrounds. But Wednesday she took time on her website to write a beautiful tribute to a brave young girl who recently passed away after battling cancer.

Wickenheiser initially met the youngster, Grace Bowen, through her cousin at a fitness event approximately a year ago, and was moved by her story, developing a close friendship with the young girl and her family and visiting her in hospital. When Wickenheiser attended Canada’s Walk Of Fame ceremonies in October, she took Bowen along as her guest.

And after she learned of Bowen’s passing, Wickenheiser poured her heart out in a glorious celebration of who the youngster was: a fighter until the very end, when terminal cancer claimed her body March 13; a beautiful and resilient daughter and sister; and a true source of inspiration who will be remembered by anyone who either knew her or knew her story: Read more

2018 Olympic hockey format unveiled. Which countries will make it?

Sidney Crosby. (Getty Images)

Olympic hockey will happen in 2018, NHLers or not. At the very least, the tournament will feature the world’s best female players. Will the men’s elite make the trek to PyeongChang, South Korea? We’ll see. Whatever happens, the IIHF is proceeding as if everyone will come to play. It released the respective formats for Olympic men’s and women’s hockey qualification Wednesday. Let’s break down how each field will be determined – under the assumption NHLers play.

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Olympian Hilary Knight’s involvement in #LikeAGirl campaign makes her an even greater role model

Jared Clinton
Hilary Knight (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The message of the #LikeAGirl campaign struck a chord with Boston Blades forward and U.S. Olympian Hilary Knight the moment she saw the commercial during the Super Bowl.

In the minute-long spot, a voice from behind the camera asks men and women, young and old, to mime tasks, “like a girl.” In the first half, the men and women mimic someone barely capable of accomplishing athletic feats like running, throwing and fighting. In the latter half, young women show exactly how they do those same tasks, running furiously on the spot and fighting with all their might. That’s what struck Knight most.

“The commercial actually changed the way that I saw the phrase previously,” Knight said following her three-goal, five-point game to lead the Blades to the Clarkson Cup final. “Being in the sport that I am, I’ve heard, ‘Oh, you shoot like a girl.’ That implied that you didn’t shoot well enough to be on the ice.” Read more

Boston, Montreal set to clash in CWHL’s Clarkson Cup final

Jared Clinton
Montreal's Julie Chu will look  to add the 2014-15 Clarkson Cup to her trophy case this weekend. (photo by Jess Desjardins/CWHL)

The intense hockey rivalry between Boston and Montreal is set to grow Saturday afternoon when the CWHL’s Boston Blades take on the Montreal Stars in the Clarkson Cup final.

Boston, led by its high-powered offense, will take on a Montreal squad that has yet to surrender a goal in the Clarkson Cup playoffs thanks to the steady goaltending of Charline Labonte.

Labonte, 32, stopped all 62 shots that came her way in Montreal’s back-to-back shutout wins over the second-seeded Calgary Infernos. Calgary, which came into the playoffs after finishing four points ahead of the Stars in the standings, went down in two straight games, losing 4-0 and 2-0 to Montreal. Read more