The history of women's hockey dates back to the 19th Century. But in recent years it has begun to emerge as a spectator sport.
Where are the Best Women's Hockey Players?
Women's hockey has been played as an NCAA varsity sport since 2001. Taking advantage of existing facilities, established school rivalries, and athletic scholarships, the women's game has grown to include three competitive tiers.
The top NCAA tier is National Collegiate, with over 30 schools in four regional conferences: Collegiate Hockey America (northeast), ECAC Hockey (northeast), Hockey East (New England), and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (midwest to west).
The national championship is decided in a bracket that begins with eight teams and ends with the "Women's Frozen Four" weekend in March.
The Canadian Women's Hockey League is the destination of choice for NCAA graduates and the rest of the top women's players.
For 2012-13, the league has five franchises: Montreal Stars, Toronto Furies, Boston Blades, Brampton Thunder (Ontario), and Team Alberta (based in Calgary).
CWHL clubs are home to many players from the Olympic and World Championship teams of Canada, the United States, and Finland.
The regular season runs from October until March, and is followed by a playoff for the Clarkson Cup.
Besides playing a regular league schedule, teams play in charity tournaments and exhibition games throughout the season.
The CWHL was formed in 2007, after the demise of the National Women's Hockey League. It operates with a centralized budget, as the league pays for travel, ice time, uniforms, and equipment for every team.
How Much are Tickets?
The Canadian Women's Hockey League, charges $10 for a ticket. $10-to-$15 is also a typical price for many NCAA games.
How Is it Different From Men's Hockey?
The women's game does not allow bodychecking (though you will see plenty of physical battles), and the players will look small to anyone used to watching men's hockey. But the playmaking and finesse on display make for great entertainment.
At the international level, Canada and the USA remain the dominant nations. Their ongoing rivalry is among the closest and most exciting in any sport.
When Can I See the National Women's Team?
Besides the Winter Olympics every four years, international events include:
- World Women's Hockey Championship. Established in 1990 and played annually since 2007, it takes place in April.
- Four Nations Cup. An annual tournament featuring Canada, USA, Sweden, and Finland, first played in 1996. It takes place in November.
- World Women's Under-18 Championship. An annual tournament first played in 2008.