The Professional Women’s Hockey League will be utilizing officials from the American Hockey League, playing under the NHL rulebook with some “small adaptations”.


Jayna Hefford, PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, discussed the officiating on the eve of training camps. 

“We’ve been working really hard on the rules and [regulations] and the officiating side of our league, as a result of our great relationship with the NHL,” Hefford said. “They’ve been incredibly supportive.”

The league has been working closely with Stephen Walkom, NHL Director of Officiating, and Al Kimmel, NHL Director of Officating Scouting and Development, along with Hayley Moore, AHL Vice President of Hockey Operations, for support on the rules and the folks enforcing them. 


Here’s what to expect for the rules and officiating in the Professional Women’s Hockey League:


PWHL Officials

The league plans to leverage AHL officials for the upcoming season. Hefford and team have been working closely with the National Hockey League and American Hockey League officiating managers to identify referees and linespersons to work games this season.  The PWHL will also look to bring in high-level amateur officials from Hockey Canada and USA Hockey

No word on whether there will be any female officials in the PWHL this season. There are currently seven women refereeing in the AHL, along with one working the lines.


PWHL Rulebook

The PWHL will play under the NHL rulebook, with what Hefford called some “small adaptations.” Checking and fighting are not part of the women’s game, so expect a change to Rule 46 and some new regulations around body checks. 

The consistent set of rules will make things a bit easier for officials who may already be working games in the American Hockey League.

Expect some other minor tweaks, including potentially around video reviews and Coach’s Challenges. The league’s venues have yet to be announced, but knowing that only some of the games will be played in NHL arenas means that the consistent camera angles and replay technology may not be available in all venues. 


PWHL Officiating Standards

Hefford threw a bit of shade on other leagues, citing her focus on consistency in calls on the ice. 

“I’m hoping that’s its going to be more consistently officiated because I think in the women’s game – it’s really difficult, I’ve played a long time – to know where the line is.  I think what players always want is consistency, so that’s what we’re going to focus on: consistency, so the players know the expectation. Anyone who knows the women’s game knows that it’s a very physical game, but there is a fine line between body checking and body contact.”

“We’ll be working though that with the officials we put in place to create a standard of play.  My biggest goal is the consistency from game-to-game in how the game is officiated.”


Here are Hefford’s complete comments:



The PWHL goes into its inaugural season with six teams: Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto. Clubs will operate under their city names and colors, but without team names or logos for the league’s opening campaign.

PWHL training camps are underway, with all teams participating in a preseason evaluation camp in Utica, New York, later this year. The season begins in January. 


Stick taps to The Messenger’s Alex Azzi (@ByAlexAzzi)  and Ian Kennedy (@iankennedyck) of The Hockey News for asking about the stripes during the PWHL’s presser.