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What is the PWHL?

On January 1st, 2024, the future of women’s hockey was changed forever, with the start of the Professional Women’s Hockey League, or PWHL. The league consists of six teams, Boston, Montréal, New York, Ottawa, Toronto, and Minnesota– currently the best team with four wins and one loss. Minnesota also holds the record for the biggest crowd at a professional women’s hockey game, with an attendance of 13,316 people, when they played Montreal on January 6th. One of Breck’s very own alumni, Grace Zumwinkle, plays for Minnesota and is ranked second in goals scored and fourth in points, with five goals and one assist.  Not only that, Zumwinkle also had the first ever hat trick in the league. 

Since the PWHL is new, they have been able to try out three different rules from the NHL, which have been received positively overall. The first change the league made was how they score games. Instead of receiving two points after each win and one in an overtime loss, the PWHL decided that if a team wins during regulation time they get three points, and if it goes into overtime the winning team only gets two points with the losing still getting one. This creates more of a push to not let games go into overtime, in order to get the most points possible. The second rule change is about short handed goals. A short handed goal is when the team is down one player, due to a penalty, and they score. The new rule is that if a short handed goal is scored then the penalty is automatically over, unlike the NHL where the penalty would continue. This prevents players from trying to waste time during a power play. The last rule change is regarding shootouts. In the PWHL now a player can shoot for a second time after five rounds are done, instead of having to go through the entire team before being able to shoot again. All of these rule changes benefit the fans, because it makes the game faster and, therefore, more interesting.

I was lucky enough to attend one of the home games against New York, at Xcel Energy Center. Sadly, Minnesota lost this game in overtime, but it was still fun nonetheless. The crowd was energetic and many girl hockey teams were featured on the jumbotron. Minnesota is finally holding true to being known as the hockey state, so wear some purple and watch their games on Bally Sports North, or come to one of their home games on the 14th or 25th of February.

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