Puck drops on first ever U.S. National Women's Hockey League

CONNECTICUT-- Opening day for a new professional women's hockey league. In Buffalo, the hometown's Beauts took on the Boston Pride. And in Connecticut, it was the Whale versus the New York Riveters, in front of a sold-out crowd.

The puck drops on the first ever National Women's Hockey League in the U.S.

NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan says these women are fast, ferocious and competitive.

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Commissioner Dani Rylan. CBS News

"People will say they can't really notice a difference between the men's and the women's until they zoom in," Rylan said.

It's the first time women will get paid to play. At $15,000 a year, most still have day jobs. But players say it's worth it to be part of this growing sport.

"Women's sports are hot right now," Rylan said. "And there's a business in it, it's untapped."

Investors paid for this first year. The league will need to sell out their 18 games to make a profit.

The hope is that a new generation of fans will pack the bleachers. Not just to stay in business, but as player Celeste Brown says, to inspire.

"I think it's so important for a younger girl to see an older girl in a position of leadership...it gives them a realization that they can do that," she said.

Little girls were looking on as the players took to the ice. Their cheers loud and their smiles big.

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Excited young fans cheering on their favorite women's hockey team. CBS News

"Oh my god! Look how fast they are," said one little girl looking at the ice. "Like look at them they're just so fast!"

It was an easy score for a sport just getting started.