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"It helps legitimize women's hockey": Whitecaps women's pro hockey team get salary boost to pay living wages for players

Professional women's hockey league boosts salary caps for teams
Professional women's hockey league boosts salary caps for teams 01:42

RICHFIELD, Minn. -- The salary cap for the Minnesota Whitecaps has more than doubled, allowing the players to be paid a living wage next season.

The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) salary cap went from $300,000 last season, to $750,000 this season, to $1.5 million next season. That's a 900% increase over three years.

"If you asked me a few years ago, I don't know what I would have said. Playing women's hockey, if I would have made any money or, you know, if it was just still a hobby in my mind," said Olivia Knowles, a first-year defender on the Whitecaps.

Before this increase, many Whitecaps players needed second jobs. Next season, many of them can make the team their full-time job.

"I think it helps legitimize women's hockey," said Knowles. "It draws more attention to the sport, and I think it just adds value to what we're doing here."

It allows forward Liz Schepers to ditch her part-time job next season.

"Hopefully next year I can shift that focus to completely hockey," said Schepers.

Forward Denisa Krizova is originally from Czech Republic. She played for the league back in the 2018-2019, but left for Europe to earn better pay. She came back this season because of the salary increase.

"You will have more savings, maybe eventually will be able to buy a house, car, something like that," said Krizova.

The Richfield Ice Arena is another example of this team benefitting from more money. This is their first season with it being their home arena, meaning they have their own locker room, their own training room, as well as first rights to advertising.

"We have the highest salary cap of...the major pro women's league, which is just super exciting and something we're really proud," said Schepers.

The players say with higher pay comes a stronger commitment, and recruiting more players is easier. This allows the dream of playing pro hockey more feasible in the future.

"It means a lot to the girls that are younger than us," said Schepers.

The Whitecaps next home game is Feb. 18. They will be debuting their first team beer created by 9 Mile Brewing.

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