March is Women's History Month

In celebration of Women's History Month, SPCHA will post articles & links focusing on women who have impacted the great sport of hockey.

Our aim is to highlight leaders & change-makers in our sport that may be overlooked. If you know of such a girl or woman you'd like to see highlighted, please send an email to Gina at

History of Women's Ice Hockey

Video: This is who I am

Most  people  are  surprised  to  learn  that  women’s  ice  hockey  has  a  history  that  dates  back  more  than  120  years,  beginning  with  the earliest known film image of women involved in a game of ice hockey — featuring Isobel Preston, daughter of Lord Stanley Preston (of Stanley Cup lore), playing hockey on a flooded lawn in the winter of 1890.

There  is  little  doubt  that  women  played  the  sport  well  before  the  first newspaper account of a game between two unnamed women’s teams appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on Feb. 11, 1891. After much research, that game, which was played in Ottawa, Ontario, is now regarded as the start of women’s ice hockey.

Over the span of more than a century, girls and women have pursued their interest in the sport, and today that segment continues to be one of the fastest-growing in USA Hockey.A look back at the history of the women’s game reveals an amazing evolution, with the best yet to come for females involved in the sport.


During  the  1990-91  season,  5,573  female  ice  hockey  players  registered with USA Hockey. Since then, that number has increased more than 10 times with nearly 73,000 registered girls and women playing ice hockey across the United States today. While the number of  girls’/women’s  teams  has  grown  significantly,  some  females  continue to play on mixed-gender teams.


As far back as 1916, women’s ice hockey teams from Canada and the U.S. have competed against each other. The 1980s, however, propelled  women’s  ice  hockey  into  the  future.  In  April  1987,  the  Ontario  Women’s  Hockey  Association  hosted  the  first  World  Invitational Tournament, which proved to be a resounding success. During that tournament, representatives from participating nations met to discuss the future of women’s ice hockey and to establish a strategy to lobby the International Ice Hockey Federation for the creation of a Women’s World Championship.

Those  discussions  led  to  the  first-ever  IIHF  Women’s  World  Championship, which was held in March 1990 in Ottawa. In 2005, the U.S. defeated Canada in a shootout to win its first-ever world title. Team USA has won seven of the last eight world championships.

Learn More: USA Hockey Play Girls' Hockey Brochure