Women’s Hockey 101: Australian Women's Ice Hockey League

Women’s hockey in Australia has a longer history than you think.

Starting this season, we’re introducing a series titled “Women’s Hockey 101.”

Our goal is to make women’s hockey more accessible for everyone, from brand new fans to seasoned women’s hockey vets. We know a lot of people who want to get into women's hockey but don't know where to start. There are an awful lot of leagues, teams, player, tournaments, etc. to keep up with, and it’s our mission to give you all the basics about everything women’s hockey.

No matter where you are in your women’s hockey fandom, keeping up with everything can be hard, and we want to make your lives easier. Welcome to Women’s Hockey 101!

A brief history of Women's Hockey in Australia

(Thanks to Ross Carpenter of Ice Legends Australia)

Most people are aware that the women's game gained more recognition in the 1990’s courtesy of the Mighty Ducks and the Olympics. However, the sport has been played on the driest continent on earth for much longer.

Women have been playing the sport in Australia for over a century now. Sport and novelty nights took place at the Sydney Glaciarium starting in 1907, and ice sports carnivals started at the Melbourne Glaciarium in 1906. The first women's game on record took place in 1908 during the evening of Monday August 31 for the occasion of a visiting American fleet.

It would take until 1922 for the first interstate women's hockey matches to take place. The Gower Cup was contended for until the 1930’s, when the Great Depression heavily impacted Australian ice hockey.

Hockey finally returned to the country in the late 1960’s. Queensland had a women's ice hockey association by 1967; by 1984, 60 women were registered to play in national competition.

The idea to create a national women's league in Australia’s Bicentenary Year was floated, but never came to fruition. In October 1988 the first Women's Championship Tournament was played with teams from four Australian states as well as New Zealand’s national team.

1994 saw New South Wales organize an invitation event dubbed the Able Press Cup, featuring them and their border rivals Queensland with the winner taking home the Joan McKowen Cup. The event would go on to become the Australian Women's National Ice Hockey Championship, with the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy being presented to the champions. 1997 was the first year that all six Australian states competed for the McKowen trophy.

2005 saw the birth of the Showcase series with the intention to offer elite level women's competition during the Northern Hemisphere’s regular season. It was from this series that the AWIHL as we now know it emerged. The league officially formed in 2007 with four teams: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. Those same four teams still battle it out today.

In 2010 the Joan McKowen trophy was officially handed over to the AWIHL, completing the same type of journey that its male equivalent, the Goodall Cup, did in 2002 when it was handed over from Ice Hockey Australia to the National Competition.

Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy Winners

1994New South Wales
1995New South Wales
1996New South Wales
1997New South Wales
1998New South Wales
2000New South Wales
2002New South Wales
2003South Australia
2004Australian Capital Territory
2005South Australia
2006South Australia
2007New South Wales
2008New South Wales
2009New South Wales
2010New South Wales
2011 Melbourne Ice
2012Adelaide Adrenaline
2013 Melbourne Ice
2014 Melbourne Ice
2015 Melbourne Ice
2016 Melbourne Ice
2017Sydney Sirens

AWIHL Champions

2005-6Adelaide Assassins – Showcase Series
2006-7Adelaide Assassins – Showcase Series
2007-8Adelaide Assassins – West Lakes Trophy
2008-9 Adelaide Assassins – West Lakes Trophy
2009-10 Melbourne Ice – Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2010-11 Melbourne Ice – Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2011-12 Adelaide Adrenaline - Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2012-13 Melbourne Ice – Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2013-14 Melbourne Ice – Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2014-15 Melbourne Ice – Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2015-16 Melbourne Ice – Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2016-17Sydney Sirens - Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy