Women’s Ice Hockey became a well recognised sport in Australia in the 1990’s. The first women’s league was established in NSW in the early part of the decade with similar leagues forming in SA and VIC a few years later. In 1994 Queensland hosted a Women's Invitational Tournament competing against a NSW team, with NSW ultimately taking the winner’s podium. From this competition arose the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy, starting in 1995. This event was held annually and served as the Australian Women's National Ice Hockey Championship. By 1997, every state was represented at the National Championships.
Max and his wife Joan McKowen were fixtures in the ice hockey community both in Victoria and in the ACT. Their involvement extended from local hockey competitions and development, to being part of many Australian National Teams over the years. Sadly, Joan passed in 1992 and Max in 2010. To continue honouring their memory, the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy has been given to the winner of the Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League since the 2010-11 season.
The Women’s Council was formed to assist in the ongoing development of both junior and senior female players in each state. They are responsible for the organisation of development programs and events across the country. The most recent initiative includes a series of development camps that are being held every few months in various locations around Australia.
The National Women’s Program has held elite camps and competitions since 1996 with the first National Team competing in an IIHF World Championship Qualifying Event in 2000. Since then the National Women’s Program has established strong relationships with programs in Boston, USA; Hokkaido, Japan; Calgary, Canada; Landskroner, Sweden; and New Zealand. The National Women’s Program now includes both the National Women’s Team and the Selects Team which was created in 2004. Over the years, these squads have competed against these international sides in various tournaments, such as the South Pacific Cup. This has helped improve the competitiveness of the elite level players.
The National Women’s Team achieved international success winning Gold at the Division III World Championships in 2003 and then again in 2007. This saw the team elevated to competing in Division II World Championships in 2004 & 2008 against more ‘hockey specialised’ countries such as Italy, Slovakia, Netherlands, Denmark, PKR Korea, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Austria. In 2010, Australia hosted the Division III World Championship in Newcastle, NSW. After a devastating loss in a shoot-out against the Netherlands, Australia took home the Silver medal. The National Women’s Team is now ranked 24th in the world and will be competing in the Division II Group A World Championship in Slovenia, March 2012.
The Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League (AWIHL) was officially formed in 2007 to support the ongoing development of present and future National Women’s Team players. This league was preceded by the Showcase Series which commenced in 2005. This concept was an initiative of the National Women’s Program to offer elite level female competition during the regular season of the Northern Hemisphere. The theory was that the National Team players would then travel to the World Championships in peak condition, which has proven to be successful. There are currently 4 teams in the AWIHL; Adelaide Assassins, Brisbane Goannas, Melbourne Ice and Newcastle Sirens North Stars, with the potential for future growth. This League is recognised by Ice Hockey Australia as the Premier Women’s Competition in Australia and officially serves as the National Championship.
AWIHL Championship Teams
2010-11 Melbourne Ice – Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2009-10 Adelaide Assassins – West Lakes Trophy
2008-9 Adelaide Assassins – West Lakes Trophy
2007-8 Adelaide Assassins – West Lakes Trophy
2006-7 Adelaide Assassins – Showcase Series
2005-6 Adelaide Assassins – Showcase Series
Past Winners of the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy
2011 AWIHL Team Melbourne Ice
2010 New South Wales
2009 New South Wales
2008 New South Wales
2007 New South Wales
2006 South Australia
2005 South Australia
2004 Australian Capital Territory
2003 South Australia
2002 New South Wales
2000 New South Wales
1998 New South Wales
1997 New South Wales
1996 New South Wales
1995 New South Wales
1994 New South Wales