Hilary Knight is one of the players refusing to compete in the North American league until conditions improve ©Getty Images

More than 200 female ice hockey players are refusing to compete in a North American hockey league until resources and salaries improve. 

Players from the folded Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and the United States-based National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) are participating in the walkout, as reported by CTV News

Several members of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic gold medal-winning team are involved, including Kendall Coyne Schofield, Hilary Knight, Amanda Kessel and Brianna Decker.

These players were also part of the US team who were triumphant at last month's International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships. 

Canada's Shannon Szabados, the first woman to sign and play in the Southern Professional Hockey League, is also taking part. 

The six-team CWHL announced in March that it was folding after 12 years in action, claiming it was economically unsustainable. 

The five-team NWHL then said it would expand to incorporate teams from Montreal and Toronto. 

When the NWHL formed in 2015, it announced a salary cap of $270,000 (£207,682/€242,112) per team for an average of $15,000 (£11,534/€13,443) per player.

The league slashed salaries by up to half the following year as a cost-cutting measure, however. 

In a statement posted on social media, accompanied by the hashtag #ForTheGame, players said they were refusing to play as they could not make a living in professional ice hockey.

"Having no health insurance and making as low as two thousand dollars a season means players can't adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level," it read. 

Despite the vast number of players refusing to compete, the NWHL released a statement saying it would still hold a league in 2019-2020.

"NWHL leadership respects the wishes of all players to consider their options and they know we are always available to meet, to participate in open communication addressing their concerns and exchanging ideas, and to collaborate with the players on one league," the statement read.

"In the meantime, our plans continue for season five of the NWHL to begin in October. 

"After a series of highly constructive and positive discussions with the NWHL Players’ Association over the past month, we are offering increased salaries and a 50-50 revenue split from league-level sponsorships and media rights deals. 

"Coming off an incredible 2018-19, we are confident another fantastic season is ahead."

The collective action comes after the US women's team successfully attained more financial compensation and competitive opportunities in 2017 after threatening to boycott that year's IIHF World Championships in Michigan.