Attendance numbers, merchandise sales, more from NWHL’s 2018–19 season released by league

League plans to provide additional support to Whale, offers transparency and other details from 2018–19 season

Today the NWHL issued a press release outlining a significant amount of growth that occurred during the 2018–19 season. The wealth of information in the release is another indication that the league is making a deliberate effort to be more transparent. In the past, both the NWHL and CWHL have drawn criticism from fans and members of the media for their lack of transparency.


In addition to expanding into the Minnesota market with the 2019 Isobel Cup Champion Whitecaps franchise, the NWHL formed new partnerships with the Minnesota Wild and the Boston Bruins — through the Boston Pride — this season. Back in January, we also learned that the Whitecaps were the first NWHL team to turn a profit.

The Whitecaps’ popularity in the State of Hockey played a key role in the league setting a new high-water mark with 16 sold-out games this season. The average attendance of the NWHL’s 46 games this season (which includes the playoffs) was 954.

The league offered even more transparency by offering the average attendance for all five teams this year. Dani Rylan, the NWHL’s commissioner, made a statement in the release about the league’s intention to offer more support for the Whale franchise, which had the lowest average attendance in the league.

“In the last 18 months, four NWHL teams have formed mutually-beneficial partnerships with the NHL teams in their markets, resulting in effective cross-promotion and the development of girls’ programs,” said NWHL Founder and Commissioner Dani Rylan. “We appreciate these partnerships and are focused on plans for the Connecticut Whale that will give the team and players the additional support they have long deserved.”

Average attendance

  • Minnesota: 1,200
  • Buffalo: 1,101
  • Riveters: 721
  • Boston: 706
  • Connecticut: 423 /

The NWHL has streamed every game in its four-year existence — albeit with occasional technical difficulties — which is something that cannot be said of the CWHL. In today’s release the league reported that the average viewership for its games on YouTube and the Twitter Game of the Week was 70,000 viewers — a new high for the league.

Merchandise numbers

This year, apparel sales in the NWHL increased by 36 percent and, just like in previous years, players received 15 percent of the revenue derived from the sales of their jerseys and shirseys. The league also released the athletes who had the highest-selling jersey and shirsey numbers (combined) this season.

Shannon Szabados, the 2019 Goaltender of the Year, led all players in jersey and shirsey sales. Rounding out the top three in sales were Amanda Kessel of the Metropolitan Riveters and Emily Pfalzer of the Buffalo Beauts. All three of those players won medals at the 2018 Olympics.

The league’s release also made mention of plans to help players promote and elevate their personal brands and to help players identify new revenue streams. There was no mention of a potential salary increase, however the league did mention that as of March 28, 2019, it has paid its players $2.5 million dollars over the NWHL’s four-year existence.

Expanded season?

The current NWHL season is 16 games long, which is significantly shorter than the CWHL’s 28-game regular season schedule. The NWHL had an 18-game regular season in the league’s first two years of operation.

There has been a push from some of the league’s players for more games to be added to the regular season schedule. It appears that the NWHL is taking this request into serious consideration.

The league has heard from several players who would like to see more games added to the regular season. An announcement on the potential expansion of the game schedule in 2019–20 will be made in the near future.