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Memorable moments in women’s hockey in the 2010s

From boycotts to undefeated college teams to leagues being formed and leagues folding, the decade had it all.

Pyeongchang 2018 - Ice hockey Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images

The 2010s have been a wild decade for women’s hockey. So much has happened, from boycotts to undefeated college teams to leagues being formed and leagues folding. As we move forward to 2020, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable or defining moments of the sport since 2010.

2010

August - The CWHL holds its first draft and announces expansion to the US with the Boston Blades.

The three-year-old league also announced a team in Toronto, bringing the league to five teams for the 2010-2011 season (Montreal, Brampton, Burlington, Toronto, and Boston). Team Alberta would be added the next year while Burlington would fold in 2012.

2013

March 24 - Minnesota Golden Gophers win the National Championship, become first NCAA team to go undefeated.

This team was stacked, and not just in hindsight. All three of the Patty Kazmaier finalists were on this team: Amanda Kessel, Megan Bozek, and Noora Räty. Kessel would win over her senior teammates.

The National Tournament wasn’t an easy ride though. North Dakota took them to triple overtime in the quarterfinals before going to single overtime against Boston College in the semifinals. In the National Championships, they dispensed of Boston University in regulation for the record 41st win. To make it even sweeter, they won it at home.

They would continue their winning ways for another 21 games in the next season to bring their streak to 62 wins without a lose.

2014

Feb. 12 - The PING!! heard round the world. Canada wins its 4th straight Olympic gold medal in Sochi

USA: PING

Poulin: lol

March 23 - Clarkson wins NCAA championships, becoming the first non-WCHA team to win the title.

Clarkson was an at-large bid into the 2014 tournament, after Cornell won the ECAC tournament and the automatic bid. Seeded third, they had home ice over Boston College in the quarterfinals before moving on to Hamden, Conn., for the Frozen Four. They faced the CHA’s Merchyhurst in their semifinal, while Minnesota and Wisconsin played in the other matchup, ensuring that there was at least a possibility for the first time ever (13 years) that a non-WCHA team could win. They beat Minnesota, the reigning National Champions, 5-4, for their first title.

Clarkson remains the only non-WCHA team to ever win. They currently have three National Titles (2014, 2017, 2018).

2015

Oct. 11 - The NWHL begins.

Touted as the first league to pay players, Dani Rylan introduced the National Women’s Hockey League back in March. The league debuted with four teams within a (sometimes long) bus ride of each other and a large number of US National Team members.

Dec. 31 - NWHL and CWHL face off in outdoor game as part of NHL’s Winter Classic. Denna Laing suffers severe spinal cord injury.

The first collaboration between the brand new NWHL and the slightly older CWHL (and the much much older NHL) was not great from the start. Rumors about the event started in the month prior, but the game wasn’t finalized and announced until a few days before. The game was only to be 30 minutes in total, with two 15-minute running clock periods. There was little promotion of the event nor any way to watch if you weren’t at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

Then, in the first period, the Pride’s Denna Laing went down in the boards, suffering a severe spinal cord injury that left her with no feelings in her legs.

2016

Oct. 7 - Harrison Browne becomes first openly transgender athlete in professional sports.

Just ahead of the second NWHL season, Buffalo Beauts player Harrison Browne became the first openly transgender athlete in professional sports. Browne penned a personal message for The Ice Garden on the first day of the season talking more about his decision.

To add to the story, he scored in his first game after coming out.

Late November - NWHL cuts salaries midseason.

In the middle of the second season, the NWHL slashed players’ salaries by an unreported amount. Obviously, the players were not happy and made it known via a four-point list on Twitter. The entire saga was taking place literally midseason with games taking place in the midst of all of this. The cuts led to distrust by some of the NWHL.

2017

March 15 - Team USA goes on strike, 15 days before USA hosts the World Championships in Plymouth, Michigan.

This was wild. About two weeks before hosting the 2017 World Championships, Team USA announced a boycott of the tournament. The players had been locked in negotiations with USA Hockey over fair wages and better support from the federation and felt they weren’t getting anywhere.

We all know what happened in the next few days. Team USA had coordinated social media pushes using BeBoldForChange and media appearances. USA Hockey tried to recruit other and younger players to play, a move that didn’t work due to the insane organization of the senior team.

Then 13 days later...

March 28 - Team USA and USA Hockey come to agreement, team to play at Worlds.

With literally days until the tournament opens — against Canada nonetheless — an agreement was made.

March 29 - University of North Dakota cuts its women’s hockey team.

Literally a day after women’s hockey celebrated a huge win, a huge loss occurred. The University of North Dakota cut its prolific team, with the news leaking out before the team (or the recruit they had on campus) was told.

April 7 - USA win Worlds in overtime.

It was a storybook ending for Team USA: a gold medal at Worlds in overtime after their boycott.

May 17 - CWHL adds two Chinese team, the first privately owned teams in women’s hockey.

I honestly don’t think anyone saw this coming. The CWHL announced it would be adding two teams in China. Literally in Asia. Growing the game just took on a global meaning.

The expansion came about as the Chinese government wanted to bolster its national team program ahead of hosting the 2022 Olympics. The two teams (and travel to and from China) were not funded by the CWHL, marking the first time a team was privately owned. A majority of the players were to be Chinese National Team players with a limited number of “import” players, who would be paid a large salary to help train their teammates.

June 15 - CWHL to pay players.

A month after adding teams (and an influx of money), the CWHL announced it would pay its players for the first time in its history.

Dec. 21 - Pegula Sports and Entertainment purchases the Buffalo Beauts from the NWHL.

This took NHL and women’s professional teams partnering to a whole new level when PSE bought the Beauts, bringing the NWHL team into their large portfolio of pro sports teams. It also made the Beauts the first privately owned team in the NWHL. The salary cap remained the same for the team.

PSE returned the team to the league on May 8, 2019.

2018

Feb 22 - USA wins Olympic gold for the first time in 20 years.

If winning the 2017 World Championship following their boycott was the storybook ending, the sequel had to be even more golden for Team USA.

In one of the most intense gold medal games that ended in a shootout, the Americans (finally) defeated Canada on the sport’s largest platform: the Olympics. It was the first time USA had won Olympic gold in 20 years.

May 15 - NWHL adds the Minnesota Whitecaps.

The Whitecaps had long been an independent post-college team playing a variety of exhibition games. In the 2016-17 season, they partnered with the NWHL for the league’s All-Star Weekend in Minnesota. Months later, the NWHL acquired the team making it the fifth team in the league, and the only that required a plane ride for the founding four teams.

2019

Jan. 25 - Kendall Coyne Schofield becomes the first female to compete at the NHL Skills competition.

2019 got off to a fast start in women’s hockey. It wasn’t the first time female players had been at the NHL Skills competition as they had been used to demonstrate skills before, and were again in 2019. But when one of the NHL players in the Fastest Skater competition couldn’t compete, Coyne Schofield became the first female to actually compete.

She finished her lap in 14.346 seconds, coming in seventh place.

March 31 - The CWHL folds.

Do I need to rehash this? A week after the CWHL finished its 12th season, they announced they were folding on May 1. Confusion and sadness reigned when we should have been celebrating the end of a (seemingly) successful season and the start of the World Championships.

April 14 - The No Goal heard round the world at Worlds as USA win their fifth straight gold medal and Finland takes home silver.

On their home ice, Finland made their first ever appearance in a Worlds final. They upset Canada 4-2 in the semifinals to set up a Finland v USA finals. It will go down as one of the craziest games in history, but probably for the wrong reason.

After an intense regulation, the two teams went to an overtime. And that where things get messy at best and bad at worst. The call ended up being “no goal” and the overtime period played on.

The US would go on to win in a shootout in what will probably go down as the most controversial game.

May 2 - ForTheGame begins.

The day after the CWHL officially closed its doors, over 200 players announced they would be sitting out of any professional league in North America until a league with proper pay and conditions was formed. They tagged their announcement with #ForTheGame.

Their next step came a little under three weeks later as they formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA). Later they would announced the Dream Gap Tour.

Aug. 14 - Swedish National Team begins their boycott.

It’s not hard to draw a link between Team USA’s 2017 Boycott to the Swedish National Team boycott in 2019. The Damkronorna had long been put on the backburner by their federation and the 43 players who were boycotting struck while iron was hot. They were set to host the annual November Four Nations Cup, which was cancelled in early September when it was clear the boycott wouldn’t be resolved with enough time to host.

Almost two months to the day, on Oct. 15, a deal was reached and the boycott ended.

Sept. 17 - NWHL sells the Boston Pride to Miles Arnone.

The Pride become the second team in the NWHL to ever be privately owned, and only team in the NWHL to currently have private ownership, when a group of investors led by Cannon Capital managing partner Miles Arnone purchase the team ahead of the fifth season.