Making Hockey (East) history on TV — Taylor Wenczkowski talks Isobel Cup win — Must-click women’s hockey links

The IX: Hockey Friday with Anne Tokarski, April 8, 2022

Welcome to Hockey (East?) Friday. Let’s get started. On Wednesday, Hockey East, home to 2022 Frozen Four semifinalist Northeastern and nine other dedicated programs, has inked a multi-year (six years, to be exact) partnership with ESPN to broadcast all Hockey East contests on ESPN+. Between the men’s and women’s programs in Hockey East, that means that over 300 more hockey games will be added to the schedule on ESPN+ through the 2027-28 season.

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“Hockey East is delighted to begin an exciting and comprehensive digital and linear partnership with ESPN,” said commissioner Steve Metcalf in Hockey East’s release. “By placing the top collegiate hockey conference on the ‘Home of Hockey,’ Hockey East can now provide our fans with the premier live-viewing experience in all of sports and allow the league to showcase the stories of our student athletes both on and off the ice.”

Women’s hockey, especially at the collegiate and professional levels, has often been relegated to the back burner in terms of streaming and accessibility. Prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, the WCHA also made the switch from broadcasting games on FloSports to partnering with Big Ten Network for games; in the season since, there’s no question that production quality has improved. In the professional ranks, the PHF had a deal with Twitch to broadcast games that was set to expire at the end of this season; however, two years into the deal, they made the switch to ESPN+ and have seen a dramatic improvement in camera angle and production quality.

“With half of the over 300 games annually dedicated to women’s hockey, we are very excited to help grow the sport across ESPN platforms,” added Dan Margulis of ESPN in Hockey East’s release.

It’s hard to overstate how important a quality broadcast — from production to camera angles to the broadcast crew themselves — is to growing the game. Hockey East’s investment with ESPN+ proves that the people in charge value women’s hockey, value accessibility, and value growing the game.

Hockey East joins the ECAC, the PHF, and professional men’s hockey on ESPN+…which means any well-intentioned hockey fan with the means to do so should do themselves a favor and nab a subscription.

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Mercyhurst’s Vanessa Upson named USCHO Rookie of the Year (USCHO)

Team Harvey’s wins PWHPA Dream Gap Tour in Montréal (CBC)

Around the rink in the PHF: Playoff edition (The Ice Garden)

Inside Brock University’s student-organized Isobel Cup watch party (The Ice Garden)

BC’s Abby Newhook has Olympic aspirations (The Hockey News)

Five at the IX: Taylor Wenczkowski

Taylor Wenczkowski, reigning Isobel Cup Playoffs MVP and two-time Isobel Cup champion, sat down with The IX for a quick recap of the postseason.

Question: Walk me through what it felt like to win your second Isobel Cup with the Boston Pride.

Taylor Wenczkowski: What an amazing feeling…I was pretty much speechless. Honestly, I know it’s super hard to go back to back when two championships in a row, so the fact that we were able to do it and come together, in playoffs, when our backs were against the wall was awesome. I know we didn’t have the best regular season and we finished the regular season with five straight overtime losses…so the fact that we had, you know, the trust in one another to pull it together when it really truly mattered was really special. 

Q: You scored the game-winner in two straight championship games. What does that mean to you as a player and as a member of the team?

Wenczkowski: It’s really cool to be able to contribute like that to your team. I think both years I was probably just in the right place at the right time but be able to bear down on my stick and get [the puck] across the goal line is was really cool feeling.

Q: Monday’s match was somewhat of a toss-up as to who would win, with Connecticut entering the game and the playoffs as the #1 seed. What was your mentality going into the game, and how do you think it paid off?

Wenczkowski: Yeah, I think just going in, playing with confidence and obviously seeing like, they have a good, strong team and I have some good friends on the team, so I know their talent and their tendencies on the ice. I think just kind of like looking at them and taking that with a grain of salt, like, respect their talent, but also know that looking around the locker room, I feel like [the Pride] basically have a full team of all-stars. And when it really matters, we show up and we figure it out, just like last year as well. So we have so much talent in the room to not win.

Q: Tell me a little bit about what it was like to have the playoffs at a neutral site in Tampa instead of at home in Boston. 

Wenczkowski: It was kind of tough, honestly. Last year, we were fortunate enough to have it in Boston and we couldn’t have family and friends there [because of COVID-19] and kind of another year not having a lot of family and friends down there…it was tough, I think. Like it’s definitely cool to be able to go to like a warm place and kinda like feel like a vacation. But at the same time, you’re there for work. And fortunately, some of my family was able to come down, [which] I know wasn’t the case for everyone. So I know it was probably hard for family and friends to not be there to support us but at the same time, it’s a great opportunity to grow women’s hockey down in Tampa, so I totally get that side as well.

Q: What are your goals for this offseason?

Wenczkowski: It’s a long year, practicing really late at night, so just continue to build confidence and work on skills and building that craft to get ready for next year. We came in with a, you know, a big chip on our shoulder and our playoff play was exactly how the Boston Pride needs to play. And I think if we just build that confidence in the offseason, then hopefully we can just take that into the beginning of next season.

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Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
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Thursdays: Golf
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Fridays: Hockey
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Saturdays: Gymnastics
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Written by Anne Tokarski