New York vs. Toronto in the opening game. PWHL. PWHL

A new professional women's hockey league has been launched in North America, with New York defeating Toronto 4-0 in the inaugural game of the Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL).

The United States and Canada have created a new professional women's hockey league that made its debut in front of a sellout crowd of 2,537 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, a smaller arena that was once home to the NHL's Maple Leaf Gardens.

In the PWHL's inaugural game, New York defeated Toronto 4-0 in a league that features three Canadian teams and three from the United States. The league includes clubs from Boston, Minnesota, Ottawa and Montreal and brings together the top female hockey players from the United States and Canada, many of whom have dominated the Winter Olympics in the past.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King, a pioneering advocate for gender equality and social justice and an investor in the PWHL, dropped the ceremonial first puck in front of a crowd of more than 2,500 spectators in Toronto, Canada.

Canadian Ella Shelton of New York scored the first goal in PWHL history at 10:43 of the first period. "It sounds pretty surreal when you hear it," said Shelton after the game, the 25-year-old defender who recently won gold at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and world titles this year and last. 

She added that she would always remember the atmosphere of that historic first match: "What I'll remember is just the atmosphere that surrounded that first women's hockey game," Shelton commented. 

"It was pretty exciting to see a sell-out crowd and to see little girls as fans... and hopefully inspire them to want to play professionally in the future." 

Alex Carpenter, Jill Saulnier and Kayla Vespa scored the other goals for the Big Apple side in a 4:49 span of the third period, while Corinne Schroeder made 29 saves in the shutout win. Toronto had 28 shots but conceded four goals. 

In addition to the league debut, two players made their professional hockey debuts and got on the scoresheet today: Chloé Aurard had two assists and became the first French-born player to play professional women's hockey in North America, while Paetyn Levis had the primary assist on New York's second goal. The PWHL regular season runs until early May, when the playoffs begin to determine the year's champion.