The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) announced today that it will be contracting by one team, the Vanke Rays, for the upcoming 2018-19 season.
The formerly seven team league will now move forward with just six teams, with four in Canada, one in the USA and one in China. By comparison, the competing National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) operates five franchises across the USA, having recently expanded to Minnesota for the upcoming 2018-19 season.
Read below for the full press release news from the CWHL, courtesy of the league's official website.
TORONTO (July 16, 2018) – The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) announced today, Monday, July 16, the 2018-19 season will feature six teams competing for the ultimate prize of the Clarkson Cup. The move was made with the contraction of the Shenzhen-based Vanke Rays, meaning the leagues 12th season will now feature: the Boston Blades, Calgary Inferno, Kunlun Red Star, Markham Thunder, Les Canadiennes de Montreal, and Toronto Furies.
“The decision to move to a six-team league for the upcoming season has been made with a lot of thought and discussion between all parties involved, including the players, our league administrators, and the Kunlun organization,” commentated Brenda Andress, commissioner of the CWHL. “This past season was monumental with our expansion to China but with it came many learning moments. We never want to be stagnant in the pursuit of improving our league and based on those learning moments we believe this is the right decision moving forward.”
The transition to six teams is intended to better accommodate travel, provide additional rest-days for players during trips to Shenzhen, and create easier coordination for KRS.
“Our travel to China last season was an incredible experience,” said Liz Knox, CWHLPA representative for the defending Clarkson Cup champion Markham Thunder. “From the players perspective, this change will mean even better competition when we make the trip over the Pacific this season.”
The next major event on the CWHL calendar is the 2018 CWHL Draft, scheduled for Sunday, August 26 in Toronto, Ont. The 2018-19 season will open just over a month later in October, with a full CWHL schedule to be released in the coming weeks.