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The Best Photos From the PWHL's Opening Week

The Professional Women's Hockey League began this month, kicking off a promising new league for women's sports

<p>Mark Blinch/Getty</p> From left: Blayre Turnbull, Billie Jean King, Jayna Hefford, and Micah Zandee-Hart

Mark Blinch/Getty

From left: Blayre Turnbull, Billie Jean King, Jayna Hefford, and Micah Zandee-Hart

The puck has officially dropped for the PWHL, a “a first-of-its-kind women’s hockey league" which hosted its opening games earlier this month.

The new PWHL, spearheaded by billionaire backer Mark Walter and other pioneering sports minds like Billie Jean King, began on Jan. 1, 2024 and has already twice broken attendance records for North American women's hockey.

The league is made up of six original teams - Team New York, Team Boston, Team Minnesota, Team Toronto, Team Montreal, and Team Ottawa - who will play each other throughout a four-month regular season. The PWHL playoffs begin in early May, during which the league will crown its inaugural champion.

The PWHL's first slate of games began this month, already drawing tens of thousands of fans and support from their counterparts in the NHL. Here's some of the best photos from the league's opening games.

PWHL Season Kicks Off In Toronto

Team Toronto vs. Team New York
Team Toronto vs. Team New York

The puck dropped on the PWHL's inaugural season on Jan. 1 with a game between Team Toronto and Team New York.

The New York squad shutout Toronto 4-0 during the first game in the new women's hockey league's history. The first goal was scored by Ella Shelton less than four minutes into the first period.

Toronto and New York Celebrate PWHL Opener

<p>Mark Blinch/Getty</p> Toronto and New York after the first PWHL game on Jan. 1, 2024

Mark Blinch/Getty

Toronto and New York after the first PWHL game on Jan. 1, 2024

Team Toronto and Team New York came together after the 4-0 matchup on New Years Day, celebrating the league's inaugural game with a commemorative team photo at center ice.

PWHL fans stuck around to get in the shot, as well, holding up signs and waving from the stands after a historic season opener at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

Tennis Legend Billie Jean King Drops the Puck for the PWHL

<p>Mark Blinch/Getty</p> From left: Blayre Turnbull, Billie Jean King, Jayna Hefford, and Micah Zandee-Hart

Mark Blinch/Getty

From left: Blayre Turnbull, Billie Jean King, Jayna Hefford, and Micah Zandee-Hart

Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who is regarded as one of the most influential and pioneering women in sports history, helped kick off the PWHL season by dropping the ceremonial first puck before Team New York's 4-0 win over Team Toronto on Jan. 1, 2024.

King, 80, is on the league's board of directors and has been a prominent figure in the league's campaign to kick off the season. The Women's Tennis Association founder and 39-time Grand Slam champion appeared at the league's draft night in September and has already been in the audience for a number of PWHL games in its first two weeks.

Hilary Knight Shares Fist Bump With Patrice Bergeron's Kids

<p>Danielle Parhizkaran/The Boston Globe via Getty </p> Hilary Knight Shares Fist Bump With Patrice Burgeron's Daughter Victoria

Danielle Parhizkaran/The Boston Globe via Getty

Hilary Knight Shares Fist Bump With Patrice Burgeron's Daughter Victoria

Team Boston captain Hilary Knight shared a heartfelt moment with Patrice Bergeron's daughter Victoria before her team's season-opener against Team Minnesota on Jan. 3 at the Tsongas Center.

Bergeron is a beloved former Boston Bruins forward, while Knight herself is one of the most prominent names in hockey.

The Olympic medalist and Team USA captain was named the IIHF Female Player of the Year in 2023 and was drafted No. 3 overall by Team Boston in last September's PWHL Draft.

Minnesota Players Skate With Youth Hockey Players

<p>Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty</p> Grace Zumwinkle

Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Grace Zumwinkle

Team Minnesota's players smiled and shared a laugh with a local squad of youth hockey players before their season kicked off earlier this month. Prior to an exhilarating three-goal game, forward Grace Zumwinkle was introduced to her hometown crowd at center ice alongside her young skating partner.

The league has already proven to be an inspiring one for youth hockey players, who have shown up in droves to watch the PWHL pros show off their skills on the ice.

Taylor Girard Waves Hello to Young Fans In the Crowd

<p>Maddie Meyer/Getty</p> Taylor Girard

Maddie Meyer/Getty

Taylor Girard

Team Boston forward Taylor Girard smiled as she interacted with a group of young fans before the team's opening game against Team Minnesota earlier this month.

The fanfare at the stadium was abundant with beloved former Boston Bruins star Patrice Bergeron and his family taking part in the ceremonial opening puck drop before the game.

PWHL Players Arrive at the Arena In Style

<p>Bruce Bennett/Getty</p> Jessie Eldridge and Jaime Bourbannais

Bruce Bennett/Getty

Jessie Eldridge and Jaime Bourbannais

Team New York players Jessie Eldridge, left, and Jaime Bourbonnais, right, smiled and waved to the cameras as they entered the UBS Arena on Jan. 10.

The New York squad was gearing up to face Team Montreal in front of 2,201 fans, who were treated to a Marie-Philip Poulin hat-trick as Montreal won 5-2.

Tayler Heise Is Drafted No. 1 Overall!

<p>Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty </p> From left: Billie Jean King and Tayler Heise

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty

From left: Billie Jean King and Tayler Heise

Last September marked the official beginning of the PWHL as the league held its first ever draft. Players heard their names called over the course of 15 rounds, as the six original PWHL teams designed the best rosters possible with some of the world's best hockey players available in the draft pool.

Billie Jean King, who is on the league's board of directors, helped welcome Tayler Heise, the No. 1 overall draft pick by Team Minnesota.

PWHL Celebrates Its First Group of Games

<p>Mark Blinch/Getty</p> Corinne Shroeder, Ella Shelton, Jaime Bourbannais, and Kayla Vespa

Mark Blinch/Getty

Corinne Shroeder, Ella Shelton, Jaime Bourbannais, and Kayla Vespa

Team New York celebrated the first win in PWHL history on Jan. 1, as the New York squad defeated Team Toronto 4-0.

The game marked a series of firsts for the league: the first PWHL goal scored by Ella Shelton, the first shutout by goalie Corinne Schroeder, the first win by Team New York, and of course, the league's first game ever in Toronto in front of 2,537 fans.

NHL Players Show Their Support for the PWHL

<p>Toronto Maple Leafs/Instagram</p> From left: Morgan Reilly, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner

PWHL players have received an outpouring of support from their counterparts in the NHL this month, including Toronto Maple Leafs stars Morgan Reilly, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner sporting "Team Toronto" gear in the team's locker room.

Other NHL stars, such as former Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron and current New York Islanders center Jade Downie-Landry, have been spotted at recent PWHL games.

Team Minnesota Celebrates Its First Victory On Home Ice

<p>Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty </p> Team Minnesota celebrates their win over Team Montreal on Jan. 2, 2024

Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Team Minnesota celebrates their win over Team Montreal on Jan. 2, 2024

Team Minnesota got off to a hot start with a win over Team Montreal in their season opener at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

The Minnesota team, which is heavily made up of players who call the state home, defeated Montreal 3-0 on the heels of a hat-trick from its hometown hero Grace Zumwinkle, a University of Minnesota grad raised in the small town of Excelsior, Minn.

PWHL Stars Light Up the Empire State Building

<p>Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty</p> Olivia Zafuto and Madison Packer

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Olivia Zafuto and Madison Packer

Team New York stars Olivia Zafuto and Madison Packer had the honors of lighting up the Empire State Building earlier this month to mark the beginning of the first PWHL season. The New York City skyscraper lit up the skyline with light blue, the color of its hometown hockey team.

Earlier in the day, PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford also rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange to help celebrate the league's first slate of games.

PWHL Players Congratulate Each Other at Center Ice

<p>Minas Panagiotakis/Getty </p> From left: Marie-Philip Poulin and Brianne Jenner

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty

From left: Marie-Philip Poulin and Brianne Jenner

Team Montreal captain Marie-Philip Poulin and Team Ottawa captain Brianne Jenner met at center ice and shook hands after their season opener at TD Place in the Canadian capital.

Montreal won the 3-2 thriller in overtime with a goal from veteran player Ann-Sophie Bettez, a Quebec native. Poulin and Jenner's handshake at the end of the game personified the unity that's become the driving force of the PWHL in its first few weeks as a league. Poulin and Jenner were both teammates on Team Canada's international squad before being named team captains of their respective PWHL teams.

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