Archive for the ‘NWHL’ Category

Evelina Raselli and Taylor Wenczkowski scored 18 seconds apart in the third period, and the Boston Pride won their second consecutive Premier Hockey Federation Isobel Cup, beating the Connecticut Whale 4-2 on Monday night in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

The Pride claimed their third championship and became the women’s hockey league’s first team to defend its title after beating the Minnesota Whitecaps a year ago. Boston also defeated the Buffalo Beauts to win the 2016 championship in the then-National Women’s Hockey League’s first season.

Boston captain Jillian Dempsey, a member of the Pride since their inaugural season, had a goal and assist, and Jenna Rheault sealed the victory by scoring into an empty net with 90 seconds remaining. Katie Burt made 26 saves for the Pride, who squandered a 1-0 lead and rallied from a 2-1 deficit.

Amanda Conway and Taylor Girard scored for the Whale, who were making their first final appearance in their seven-year history. Abbie Ives stopped 24 shots for Connecticut.

Playing their third game in four days, the Pride scored three times on four shots in the third period.

Wenczkowski, who was named playoff MVP, scored the go-ahead goal 6:57 into the period when she drove up the left wing and was in position to tap in a rebound after Ives stopped Canadian Christina Putigna’s shot from a bad angle to the right of the net.

The goal was similar to Raselli’s, which she scored seconds earlier. This time it was Mary Parker’s shot from the right circle getting stopped by Ives, with the puck bouncing to Raselli, who tapped it into the open left side.

Boston clamped down on defence, limiting the Whale to one shot on goal over the final 20 minutes. The Pride outscored their opponents 15-3 in the playoffs.

It was a disappointing end for Connecticut (15-3-2), which won its first regular-season title and led the PHF in goals scored (74) and fewest goals allowed (44).

Formerly known as the NWHL before rebranding last year, the PHF is the lone professional women’s hockey league in North America. The league has plans to expand from six to eight teams and increase its salary cap to $750,000 US per team next season. 

The Toronto Six earned a first-round bye in the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, but they suffered a 5-1 loss to Boston in the semifinal on Sunday.

Lexie Laing and Taylor Wenczkowski scored power play goals and the Boston Pride became the first two-time winner of the Isobel Cup with a 4-3 win over the defending champion Minnesota Whitecaps on Saturday night.

It was a NWHL championship the Pride, regular-season champions, had hoped to win a year earlier, before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the championship game between these same two teams just two days before the faceoff.

Wenczkowski’s goal that made it 4-2 with 6:28 to play proved to be the game as it came down to a frantic finish.

Boston’s Tereza Vanisova was called for a 5-minute checking-from-behind major with 2:25 left. The Whitecaps pulled goalie Amanda Leveille at the same time but didn’t score on the 6-on-4 until just 19.4 seconds remained, Meaghan Pezon stuffing the puck during a scramble.

But Boston, which dominated the facesoffs 39-18, won the last draw, thanks to Laing, and the Pride had their first championship since the inaugural season of 2015-16.

“We finally did it and I’m so proud of our team,” Boston captain and Cup MVP Jillian Dempsey, the only player from the first championship, said. “Huge congratulations to Minnesota, too. They really made that a battle until the very last second.”

Boston goalie Lovisa Selander made 27 saves.

After Allie Thunstrom gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Pride score three goals in the second period. Mary Parker tied the game, Dempsey found the far top corner from the bottom of the circle and then Laing cashed in a 5-on-3 power play.

With 12:21 to play in the third period, the Pride had pressure on the goal when defenceman Amanda Boulier was called for covering up the puck in the crease. Boston was given a choice of a penalty shot or power play and elected to give Tori Sullivan the penalty shot that Leveille stopped.

Just 13 seconds later Thunstrom scored her second goal, fourth of the weekend, to make it 3-2 and set up the frantic finish.

“(The finish) felt like the longest 19 seconds of my life,” Boston defenceman Kaleigh Fratkin, who has played in the NWHL since the inception, said. “Lexie Laing has been an amazing centre for us, she won the draw and Lauren Kelly has been unbelieve for us this year on the D-end, she sent the puck down and killed it. Man a great way to bring home the last 19 seconds.”

Even the abbreviated season, played in a bubble in Lake Placid, New York, was shut down in early February with the six teams playing between three and seven games and the four playoff teams hadn’t played since early February.

Minnesota, which went 3-1 in the bubble, won 2-1 in their lone matchup with Boston (3-4) on Jan. 23.

Fourth-seeded Boston reached the championship game with a 6-2 win over top-seeded Toronto (4-1-1)in the semifinals with six different players scoring. Minnesota routed Connecticut (2-2) 7-0 behind a hattrick by Audra Richards and two goals from Thunstrom.

The National Women’s Hockey League postseason is back on.

Four teams will compete in the semifinals on March 26, with the winners meeting in the single-elimination Isobel Cup final the next night, the NWHL announced Monday.

The top-seeded Toronto Six will face the fourth-ranked Boston Pride, and the No. 2-slotted Minnesota Whitecaps will clash with the third-seeded Connecticut Whale.

All three games will take place at Warrior Ice Arena, the Boston Bruins‘ training facility in Brighton, Massachusetts. All of the matchups will be shown on NBCSN, marking the first time a major U.S. national network will broadcast women’s pro hockey league championship games.

The NWHL suspended play due to COVID-19 concerns on Feb. 3 – one day before the Isobel Cup playoffs were slated to begin. The league opened an abbreviated 2021 campaign in an isolated environment on Jan. 23 in Lake Placid, New York, but the Metropolitan Riveters withdrew from the bubble five days later following multiple positive tests. The Whale did the same on Feb. 1 despite having clinched a playoff spot.

The league will employ “enhanced health and safety protocols and enforcement” upon resuming play.

Has the time come for the NHL invest more seriously in women’s hockey and form a WNHL? That is what former Canadian Olympic hockey player and current Hockey Night in Canada analyst Cassie Campbell-Pascall believes is the future of women’s hockey.

Women’s hockey leagues have faced many challenges over the years, as seen with the closure of the CWHL in 2019 or the stoppage of the NWHL’s playoff bubble due to COVID concerns. Despite that, Campbell-Pascall believes that everything is in place for women’s hockey to succeed, with the NHL’s help.

“I think it’s infrastructure,” Campbell-Pascall told Daily Hive. “I truly believe we’ve tried to have professional leagues in the past, we’ve said that we’ve had them in the past, but we truly didn’t have them. I believe we need the NHL’s infrastructure to push us to that next level.”

“I think we’ve got the talent, we’ve got the players, we’ve got the coaches, but we’ve had leagues that are essentially run by one person. So to be able to have the marketing power, which I think that PWHPA (Pro Women’s Hockey Players Association) has with all the best players playing there and all the sponsors that they have, and combine that with the infrastructure that the NHL has, to form a WNHL.”

The PWHPA has become one of the top platforms for women’s hockey globally and has received some high praise.

“The PWHPA will go down as the most important group entity to do what’s right for women’s hockey,” Campbell-Pascall said.

Having representation on a variety of hockey shows such as Hockey Night In Canada is one of her keys to making a difference in shaping the perception of women’s hockey in the general public.

“I think for young girls, young boys, for them to see a female talking hockey on arguably the biggest stage of hockey in this country, I think it’s important for them to see different role models and it’s important for them to see that women are capable of talking hockey.”

Campbell-Pascall has long been an advocate for women’s hockey, with her work as host of the Scotiabank Girls HockeyFest Summit being one of her top priorities.

She is getting ready to take part in the 15th annual version of that program on Sunday. Even though the entire event will be online due to pandemic restrictions, she still believes that it is an excellent experience for young women.

“I’m really excited that even though it’s going to look different with COVID, that we’re still going to do it. We’re still going to have an opportunity to impact some young female hockey players or young females who may be thinking of getting into hockey.”

“I think it’s going to be a great learning experience for the young females that get an opportunity to participate.”

The event will feature guest speakers, including Natalie Spooner, P.K. Subban, Jayna Hefford, and Sarah Nurse, among others.

So with all of this great grassroots level work developing women’s hockey, how do we build on this momentum to ensure that it continues to grow, develop, and succeed?

The ideal solution, according to Campbell-Pascall, would see a marriage between the PWHPA and the NHL to create a new NWHL — similar to what the NBA has done with the WNBA.

“I believe in that future for women’s hockey.”

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The National Women’s Hockey League is officially expanding to Toronto for the 2020-21 season, the league announced Wednesday.

Toronto will be the league’s first Canadian team and sixth franchise overall, joining the Boston Pride, Metropolitan Riveters, Buffalo Beauts, Minnesota Whitecaps, and Connecticut Whale.

“Launching our first team in Canada is a pivotal and proud moment for the NWHL,” league commissioner Dani Rylan said. “Everyone in the Toronto hockey community can be sure that this first-class team of professionals will make bold strides for the women’s game.”

Former Brown University coach Digit Murphy has been named team president and will oversee hiring a general manager and head coach. Johanna Neilson Boynton, a former captain at Harvard, and Tyler Tumminia, will serve as owner and chairman, respectively.

“We aspire to build a perennial Isobel Cup contender for Toronto,” said Boynton. “This will be an organization with strong fan, community, and corporate support, outstanding coaching, training, and player development, and a club dedicated to promoting hockey as a game for everyone.”

Signing, hirings, and venues for the team will be announced at a later date, but fans can immediately begin submitting ideas for a team nickname, colors, and logos here.

The 2020-21 NWHL season is expected to begin in November.

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The National Women’s Hockey League is in the process of bringing an expansion team to the Toronto area and is expected to make an official announcement at the end of April, reports The Associated Press.

The team will be led by former Brown University coach Margaret Murphy. She’s reportedly already begun assembling her roster.

The United States-based NWHL currently has five franchises. The league expressed a desire to expand to Canada in Toronto and Montreal a year ago, but plans never came to fruition.

Canada’s professional women’s league, the CWHL, folded last year after 12 seasons due to financial constraints. The league’s shutdown prompted over 200 of the world’s top players to vow not to play professionally in North America until a women’s league with a sustainable future can be developed and maintained.

The NWHL postponed its Isobel Cup Final in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.