Boston still undefeated — Metropolitan’s first games at American Dream — Team USA’s big night in Seattle
The IX: Hockey Friday with Eleni Demestihas, Nov. 25, 2022
Happy Friday! If you observe, I hope you had a nice holiday. I’m going to recap last weekend’s PHF games (Boston is still undefeated!) and the Rivalry Series game in Seattle. Don’t forget to swing by on Sunday as I’ll be on Playback during the Riveters vs. Force game and would love your company!
At the end of November, the PHF standings—although there have only been a handful of games—look more or less how I might have guessed, with one somewhat major difference.
Boston is at the top of the standings, undefeated in their four games played this season, having beaten the Whale, the Riveters and the Whitecaps (twice). Hot on their heels is Toronto in second place with a 3-1-0 record, helped significantly by their ability to split their series in New Jersey last weekend. Rounding out your top three is Buffalo with a 1-0-1 record.
Buffalo was supposed to come down to Connecticut last weekend, but a substantial snowstorm in Buffalo prevented that from happening, so they’ve still only played two games and Connecticut has still only played one. That means that the Connecticut Whale, your 2022 runner-ups, are alongside Minnesota at the bottom of the table, with each team yet to secure a win. I would still say that these are two very different teams. Minnesota has played four games, lost two in regulation and two in overtime. Connecticut hasn’t played enough yet for us to start drawing any conclusions, especially given they opened their season against Boston.
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Minnesota hosted Boston last weekend for a series that did at least see them snap rookie goalie Corinne Schroeder’s shutout streak at three games. This means Schroeder ties, but has not yet surpassed, the PHF records for shutouts in a season with three. Her third shutout was on Friday, as the Whitecaps were unable to solve her. Boston was missing three forwards with Becca Gilmore, Elizabeth Giguere and Loren Gabel at the Rivalry Series. They signed Taylor Turnquist, Lexie Laing and Taylor Accursi (!) to PTOs for the weekend, though it’s possible that one or more of them will sign for the season–keep an eye on Turnquist especially, per Dan Rice of The Ice Garden. On Saturday, Minnesota did finally solve Corinne Schroeder—in fact, they were able to score four goals on her. The first of those goals was also the first PHF goal for Minnesota Whitecaps captain Sydney Brodt.
Minnesota’s four goals weren’t enough, though, as Boston, even down three of their regulars, rolled over them with five goals. Minnesota seems to be focusing on a fast, slick offense, which is fine and should be okay to keep them in the middle of the pack once they stabilize—but if they want to compete with the top dogs in the league they’re going to have to tighten up in their own end, and fast. Leveille needs the help.
The only other series that was played last weekend happened in Newark, as the Riveters hosted the Six for the first time at American Dream. Elaine Chuli had an uncharacteristically down game on Saturday, letting in five goals on thirteen shots. It seemed to me that at least one of the goals was in some way contributed to by the venue. This was the first ever game played at American Dream, which has a windowed roof, and because it was a day game, the sun was shining directly down onto the ice. I don’t think that Chuli could track the puck as well as usual in a breakaway situation but at the same time, not all of the goals were breakaways. Sometimes you just have a rough time. Credit to the Riveters, who played fast and hard. This Riveters team has substantially more speed than last year’s, and they really made that work to their advantage. Of particular note to me all weekend was Sarah Bujold, who ended up scoring four goals (two shorthanded!).
The Six bounced back on Sunday as Carly Jackson made her first start. Leah Lum, Brittany Howard and Tereza Vanisova had really impressive games, and Carly Jackson ended the game with a very solid .926 Save Percentage (SV%). All in all, I don’t think the Six need to worry, and I think the Saturday game was a great example of what the Riveters are capable of after struggling against Boston.
The crowd in Seattle at Climate Change Arena last Sunday set a record for the number of spectators at an international women’s hockey game played in the US, sitting pretty at 14,551. So if you thought Seattle wasn’t a real hockey town, think again—I think Seattle would turn out for a women’s pro team, just like they do for the Kraken—though I doubt that’s happening in the near future.
Team USA defeated Team Canada 4-2 to take a 3-0 lead in the Rivalry Series and, perhaps more importantly, has now beaten Canada in three straight games for the first time in three years. As I mentioned a while back, Hilary Knight recently set a record at Worlds for all-time most points scored at the tournament, and she was honored pregame with a special golden stick. What I want to know is, can the stick be used? Would you be tempted to try it? I know I would.
With her regular stick, Knight assisted on the opening goal less than a minute into the game. Defender Savannah Harmon had joined the rush on the opposite side of the ice, and Knight found her with a great pass, which led to an extremely impressive shot that opened the scoring.
Who else to tie the game but Marie-Philip Poulin? The teams went to the second intermission with a goal apiece, but it felt like Team USA was still controlling the pace of the game. In the second period, Team USA scored a powerplay goal (something that has eluded them in crucial moments during recent tournaments) thanks to some crisp passing between Kendall Coyne-Schofield, Amanda Kessel and Abby Roque. Roque’s goal put Team USA ahead 2-1, and shortly after, Knight scored on the breakaway to bring the lead to 3-1. Canada didn’t roll over, though, as Sarah Nurse scored on a rebound near the end of the second period to narrow the lead to 3-2 going into the final frame.
Knight sealed the win for Team USA with yet another powerplay goal in the third period, bringing the score to 4-2. Nicole Henlsey ended the game with a .917 SV% and got her second win of the Rivalry Series. It’ll be interesting to see who’s in net when the teams face each other again in mid-December. I would expect to see Rooney get at least one more game, but despite Hensley’s impressive performances, it would be nice to see Frankel get a shot between the pipes.
The teams will play each other again in Vegas on December 15 and then in Los Angeles on December 19.
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