The National Women’s Hockey League is having its All-Star Weekend in Pittsburgh on Feb. 11-12. The weekend will showcase the league’s best players in a skills competition and All-Star matchup.
If you’re just hearing about the NWHL’s All-Star Game this weekend, or even the NWHL in general, here are seven things you need to know about the League and the events.
1. Yes, there is a National Women’s Hockey League
The NWHL was founded in 2015 by Dani Rylan, a former ice hockey player. Rylan started the NWHL in an effort to bring professional women’s hockey to the Northeast and create an option for professional play following a player’s collegiate career.
The league currently has four teams: the New York Riveters, Connecticut Whale, Buffalo Beauts and Boston Pride. Though the teams are located in the northeast United States, the league has players representing the U.S., Canada and even South Korea.
The League has earned a lot of athletic support since its founding. In fact, the NHL hosted the NWHL’s inaugural Winter Classic last season on Dec. 31, 2015, prior to the NHL’s Winter Classic the next day.
2. This is the League’s 2nd All-Star Game
The NWHL had their inaugural All-Star Weekend on Jan. 24, 2016. The game’s two teams featured two All-Stars against each other in a skills competition and all-star matchup.
Olympian and Boston Pride Hilary Knight led her team of All-Stars against World Women’s champ and Buffalo Beauts’ Emily Pfalzer’s team. At the end of weekend, Team Pfalzer would be named the champs of the first ever NWHL All-Star Game.
3. Amanda Kessel Will Be an All-Star Captain (Yes, She’s Related to Phil Kessel)
Pittsburgh Penguin Phil Kessel isn’t the only hockey star in his family; his sister, Amanda Kessel, a New York Riveter, will be a team captain at this year’s All-Star Weekend.
Since joining the Riveters, Kessel has become a fan-favorite because of her skill and passion for the sport. She will be joined by fellow All-Star captain Kelley Steadman, a fan-favorite from the Buffalo Beauts.
4. Penguins Provide the Venue
The All-Star Game will take place in Pittsburgh this season in an effort to grow the game in what is rumored to be an expansion location. The Penguins will host the NWHL in their state-of-the-art practice facility, UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
The Penguins have been excited about promoting the event and are proud to be loaning their rink to the league for the weekend.
5. More of the All-Star Hockey We Love with a Twist
The NWHL All-Star Game format is more of the NHL All-Star power that hockey fans love. The skills competition will include fastest skater (and goalie), hardest shot, shooting accuracy, breakaway and rapid-fire shootout challenges.
The game will have a 4-on-4 format for two 25-minute periods. This matchup will feature the NWHL’s best players, as drafted by their All-Star captains, facing off in a challenging game to find the best team.
6. Some of the Roster’s Bests Might be Isobel Cup Champs
The Isobel Cup is the League’s championship trophy. Isobel was the daughter of Lord Stanley, the Stanley Cup’s namesake. Isobel shared Stanley’s love of the game and is known to be one of the first female hockey players in Canada.
Last season, the Boston Pride became the first team to be Isobel Cup champs, and they are looking to do it again in the NWHL playoffs in March.
7. You Can Watch from Home
The skills competition will take place on Saturday, February 11 at 4:00 p.m., and the All-Star Game follows on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 3 p.m.