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The IX: Hockey Friday with Eleni Demestihas, Dec. 2, 2022

Happy Friday! Last weekend was busy with both PHF games and a PWHPA Dream Gap Tour stop. We’ll check in on the NCAA too, as the rankings have started to get really interesting. I’ll wrap it up with some podcast recommendations.

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Last weekend, with the Whale, Whitecaps and Beauts not playing, we still got a look at some really interesting matchups. One big one is the top of the table battle between Boston and Toronto.

The teams ended up splitting their series, with Boston winning in overtime on Saturday and then losing big to Toronto on Sunday. It’s the first time Boston has lost a game all season, and for Toronto to win it in regulation is especially good for their spot in the standings. Today, they’re still well separated from the third place team in the standings, and if the trend continues they’ll spend all season breathing down Boston’s neck. After playing a tight, physical game on Saturday, Boston’s defense seemed exhausted, and coach Paul Mara made the decision to start Corinne Schroeder with less than a full day of rest. It backfired, and the team was already in a hole when they put Selander in net, who was coming in ice cold. It’s not fair to say that she struggled when she had not seen any action this season, but the combination of a cold goalie, a tired defense, Chuli being back in form and Toronto blocking many of their shots left Boston down bad on Sunday. Brittany Howard continued her dominant season up front, while on Saturday, Becca Gilmore scored her first PHF goal. 

The first ever PHF game in Quebec was played on Saturday with the Riveters traveling to Quebec for the teams’ first-ever matchup. Both games were extremely fun and physical. Montreal is stacked with players who move the puck extremely quickly, which was a real challenge for the Riveters in the neutral zone. On Playback I described the Riveters as a team who fights their way through, even if it might be easier to go around, and I stand by that. However difficult that may make their lives at times, it also means they have a never-say-die attitude that makes them extremely hard to play against in close third periods, as Montreal found out on Sunday. The Riveters kept the game close, kept grinding, and Kelly Babstock scored with under a minute left to seal a huge regulation win for them. Plus, it’s hard to complain too much about penalties when you have two very solid goalies in McQuigge and Mäkinen, and lead the league in short handed goals (Gasparics scored one this weekend).

This weekend, the Connecticut Whale are back in action against the Montreal Force in Quebec, and the Riveters head out to Minnesota to face the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps badly need to string some wins together, and Connecticut, who has only played one game, will be looking to prove they’re the superpower we all said they’d be in the offseason.

The PWHPA played a Dream Gap Tour stop in Pittsburgh this past weekend, where Team Harveys emerged undefeated, placing them at the top of the table with sixteen points. They’re six points free and clear of runner-up Team adidas, which amounts to two regulation wins in the PWHPA scoring system. In third place is Team Scotiabank, who powered through a close 5-4 win over Team Sonnet. Team Sonnet brings up the rear, with no wins this past weekend. Some particularly outstanding performances:

Rebecca Johnston

Team Scotiabank has some trouble staying out of the box at times, but building your team around Rebecca Johnston and Blayre Turnbull means you’ll never be hurting for offense. Johnston is second in scoring across the organization with eleven points (six goals, five assists), one point behind Marie-Philip Poulin. It’s not just the quantity, though, it’s the quality and timing of her goals. You’ve likely seen this one all over your timeline and in everyone’s recap of the weekend, because it’s truly a thing of beauty.

Marie-Philip Poulin

I know, it goes without saying at this point, but seriously. Her hat-trick against Team Scotiabank helped seal a 5-3 win that’s especially important with Scotiabank right below Team Harveys in the standings. It was also a really fun hat trick because it included a short-handed goal and the game-winning goal. Of course, she also assisted the empty-netter that was the final nail in the coffin for Team Scotiabank. Absolutely ruthless. Here’s her hat trick goal (and the game-winner).

Kendall Coyne-Schofield

Coyne-Schofield had a strong weekend for Team adidas, including a two-goal game against Team Sonnet. She also collected a shorthanded goal in the team’s first game of the weekend, against Team Harvey’s.

Taylor Haase of DK Pittsburgh Sports wrote a great article about the weekend that you can read here. The Penguins continue to express lukewarm interest in having a women’s pro team in Pittsburgh, but have taken no real steps (as far as I’ve heard) to make it happen. Still, hosting PWHPA and PHF games is great for the women’s game in the Pittsburgh metro area.

In the NCAA, there’s movement in the power rankings as Minnesota takes a tumble to fourth place. Ohio State has risen to the top with fourteen votes for first place, followed up by Wisconsin. In third place is Yale, who had the performance of the week, toppling heavy favorites Minnesota with four first-period goals. Yale’s upcoming game against Colgate (ranked sixth) on Saturday is a critical game for both teams. 

Out in Vegas for the Henderson Hockey Showcase, BU struggled, dropping games to Yale and Penn State. Down in Nashville, Maureen Murphy led Northeastern (ranked eighth, which is low in my eyes) to a 4-1 win over Princeton (ranked fourteenth) with a hat trick. Check out the sweet trophy they won:

At the Nutmeg Classic, Sacred Heart did well to hang in with UConn until overtime. After that close win, UConn fell 1-0 to Quinnipiac, handing the Bobcats their fourth straight Nutmeg Classic title.

Some podcasts to enjoy this weekend:

There’s a new episode of PHFuture Considerations (which yes, I am on, but I’m recommending it for the interview with Allie Morse, a Whitecaps alum who is one of my favorite all-time interviews), which you can listen to wherever you catch your podcasts.

More than Five Percent this week had Montreal Force forward Brooke Stacey on, and you absolutely need to see/hear her response to a critically important food take: are PopTarts ravioli?

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Eleni Demestihas