Montreal stuns Toronto with a shutout — PHF playoff format announced — PWHPA OHL Showcase Recap
The IX: Hockey Friday with Eleni Demestihas, Feb. 17, 2023
There were only two PHF games last weekend, but the PWHPA played four and the PHF finally announced its playoff details—well, kinda.
Last weekend the only two PHF games were a series between Toronto and Montreal. Montreal had the odds stacked against them, considering how dominant Toronto has been—especially 5v5—but it’s Montreal, so of course they shut Toronto out in the first game of the series. It was Toronto’s first time being shut out this season, and it was a huge game for Montreal goalie Tricia Deguire, with 39 saves. Toronto got revenge in the second game, managing a split as they continue to race down Boston at the top of the table. They are now only one point behind, with a game in hand. Boston plays Montreal this weekend and Toronto plays Connecticut. It’ll be a pair of really interesting matchups, and fun to see whether or not Toronto can take over in first place.
The Beauts signed two players over the bye week: forward Amy Budde was signed to a standard player contract after starting off the season on a professional tryout (PTO), and forward Kristina Schuler was signed for the remainder of the season as well. Budde is a familiar face for Beauts fans and well-liked in the locker room. Schuler played at BU and graduated from Clarkson, and provided some good depth scoring for both teams. I don’t think either signing is going to change the course of the season for the Beauts, but it’s nice to see both players get an opportunity.
On Thursday the PHF finally announced some details about their playoffs. As rumored, only the top four teams will make the playoffs. I like this because otherwise the regular season would essentially mean nothing. The semifinals will be hosted in Boston and Toronto on March 16-20, although Boston and Toronto may not play at home, as far as I’m aware. The semifinals will be a best-of-three series, which is another aspect of this that I love. Unfortunately, the final will be a single game—which doesn’t make any sense if the semis are series—and we don’t know the location yet.
My guess is that the reason they didn’t announce the location for the final and the reason it’s only a single game are the same, or close to it. Since the games are streamed, there are only so many venues that are conducive to ESPN+/TSN Direct streaming setups, and both or either streaming service may only be willing to do a single game on that weekend (March 26). My guess is that they’re still trying to find the right venue that will host them on that date, be a neutral site, and support a streaming setup. That being said, it sucks to announce a location so late that fans will have to scramble if they want to go to the game. Having a big crowd for the final is imperative and I really doubt that’s going to be possible now, which isn’t good for the league, the players or for the game.
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The PWHPA played four games last weekend across Ontario in various OHL arenas. On February 10, Team Harvey’s beat Team Scotiabank 5-2 in Peterborough, thanks to a stellar performance from Jessie Eldridge (2G, 1A).
That same day in St. Catharines, the IceDogs hosted a PWHPA record crowd of 4,301 fans, who witnessed an impressive Team adidas shutout as they beat Team Sonnet 4-0. Kristin O’Neill and Kayla Vespa each had a goal and an assist, and Maddie Rooney stopped all 25 shots that Team Sonnet could muster.
The next day, in Barrie, Team adidas pulled off an impressive overtime win against Team Harvey’s. Meaghan Mikkelson scored the gamewinner off of a great pass from Amanda Kessel, which was only possible after a great play from Aerin Frankel in net.
Finally, in Kitchener, Team Scotiabank beat Team Sonnet 4-1. Team Sonnet only scored that single goal all weekend, thanks to Hannah Brandt. Blayre Turnbull scored twice (one shorthanded) and had a goal in Team Scotiabank’s other game, making her my player of the weekend.
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