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League introduces innovative rule addition for shorthanded goal scenario, three-point standings system, Player Safety Committee

TORONTO, ON (January 1, 2024) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) has announced the publication of its official rulebook for the inaugural season. PWHL rules are modelled significantly on the NHL’s rules and include IIHF rules related to bodychecking, face protection, and fighting. The league has also adopted an innovative rule addition following experimentation of various adaptations and in-game scenarios during December’s pre-season evaluation camp in Utica, New York.

The PWHL’s rule addition specifically applies to Rule 16 – Minor Penalties: inclusion of penalty expiration criteria – team who scores is serving a minor penalty. In such an instance, the minor penalty with the least amount of time remaining on the clock shall terminate following the short-handed goal.

“The entire PWHL has embraced the opportunity to be innovative with how our game is played,” said Jayna Hefford, Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations. “After the pre-season evaluation camp, we surveyed general managers, coaches, players, and officials and received broad consensus that this new rule added excitement to the game and to special teams situations. I think fans are really going to enjoy the PWHL for its speed and skill in addition to its physicality and competitiveness.”

The PWHL also announced members of its Player Safety Committee responsible for providing independent review and providing recommendations on supplementary discipline. The committee, chaired by Hefford, includes PWHL Special Advisor Cassie Campbell-Pascall; Katie Guay, a current NHL and AHL on-ice official; Mike Murphy, a long-time NHL executive and former VP of Hockey Operations; Matt McMahon, a member of the NHL’s Player Safety department.

Officials working PWHL games will be among the top-rated as identified in close partnership with the NHL and AHL and in consultation with Hockey Canada and USA Hockey. David Taveroff, an experienced on- and off-ice official over decades in the NHL and CHL, will administer the league’s officiating program.

Additional Rulebook Notes:

  • Game rosters shall be composed of up to twenty-one (21) players including nineteen (19) skaters and two (2) goaltenders.
  • If the score is tied at the end of three (3) twenty (20) minute periods, the teams shall play an additional overtime period of not more than five (5) minutes with the team scoring first declared the winner. The overtime period shall be played with each Team at a numerical strength of three (3) skaters and one (1) goalkeeper.
  • If still tied after overtime, the teams will proceed to a shootout. Each team will be given five shots unless the outcome is determined earlier in the shootout. After each team has taken five shots, if the score remains tied, the shootout will proceed to a “sudden death” format. A player is eligible at any time to take any number of shots and as often as the team chooses.
  • Teams will be awarded three (3) points in the standings for a regulation win, two (2) points for an overtime or shootout win, one (1) point for an overtime or shootout loss, and zero (0) points for a regulation time loss.
  • If two or more clubs are tied in points during the regular season, the standing of the clubs is determined in the following order:
    • The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
    • The greater number of games won, excluding games won in Overtime or by Shootout (i.e., ‘Regulation Wins’). This figure is reflected in the RW column.
    • The greater number of games won, excluding games won by Shootout (i.e., ‘Regulation and Overtime Wins’). This figure is reflected in the ROW column.
    • The greater number of games won by the Club in any manner (i.e., ‘Total Wins’). This figure is reflected in the W column.
    • The greater number of points earned in games against each other among two or more tied clubs. For the purpose of determining standing for two or more Clubs that have not played an even number of games with one or more of the other tied Clubs, the first game played in the city that has the extra game (the ‘odd game’) shall not be included. When more than two Clubs are tied, the percentage of available points earned in games among each other (and not including any ‘odd games’) shall be used to determine standing.
    • The greater differential between goals for and against (including goals scored in Overtime or awarded for prevailing in Shootouts) for the entire regular season. This figure is reflected in the DIFF column.
    • The greater number of goals scored (including goals scored in Overtime or awarded for prevailing in Shootouts) for the entire regular season. This figure is reflected in the GF column.


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