The Canadian Women’s Hockey League has reached the Far East.
The league announced on Monday that it has reached a five-year deal to expand into China, with the formation of the Kunlun Red Star (KRS), which will begin play in the 2017-18 season.
Original story posted on Sportsnet.
“This is a historic moment in time for women’s hockey to grow on a global stage, creating a template for many winter sports to follow heading into the 2022 Olympics to be held in China,” CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress said in a press release. “This is not just about hockey it is about the opportunity for the growth of women in all sports and creating career opportunities.”
As a result, the CWHL schedule will see a 24 to 30 game increase with the five North American teams travelling to play a three-game series with Kunlun.
KRS will be located in Shenzhen, China, as the country looks to encourage a growing interest in hockey as China prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“We're extremely excited to announce this exciting partnership with the Canadian Women's Hockey league,” said Alex Zhao, chairman of the board of KRS in a press release. “As part of the CWHL, the premier professional women's league, our mission is to develop a top-tier professional team in order to develop a strong base of female players for our national programs, and new audiences for the sport in China, in the lead-up to hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.”
The newest franchise has already reportedly signed top Finnish netminder Noora Raty as well as American forward Kelli Stack.
The addition leaves the CWHL with teams in six cities: Shenzhen, Calgary, Brampton, Toronto, Montreal, and Boston.