Shutouts and hat tricks — PWHPA All-Star recap — ACHA check-in — Major announcements

The IX: Hockey Friday with Eleni Demestihas, Dec. 16, 2022

Happy Friday! This week, I’ll recap the current ACHA D1 standings, last week’s PHF games, the PWHPA All-Star weekend and some big announcements across the sport. It’s a busy one, but it should be fun!

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In the ACHA, Liberty University remains dominant and undefeated going into the holiday break. As a matter of fact, its sweep of Arizona State last weekend extends its staggering 56-game winning streak, an ACHA record.

Adrian College is in second place with a 14-3-0 record. Just behind them is Midland University, which swapped places with Indiana Tech in the top five. Rounding out the top five is Minot State University.

Interestingly, the top three scorers in the ACHA right now are all from Indiana Tech. Through 20 games, Dakota Bowler has 33 points, followed by Isobel Pattem-Shand with 32 and Megan Yakiwchuk with 30. Of the goalies who have played 10 or more games, two stand out statistically: Mackenzie Addley of Indiana Tech, who has a .956 save percentage through 10 games with four shutouts, and Sandrine Ponnath of the University of Michigan, who has a .950 save percentage in 16 games. Ponnath has also played the most minutes of any goalie in the ACHA, around 20 more than the next-closest player.

The biggest news in the PHF this week is the doubling of the salary cap heading into next season. The salary cap for the 2023-24 season will be $1.5 million — a 900% increase from 2021. J Gray of The Ice Garden made an interesting observation in this piece:

“The league minimum and salary floor have not been announced for the 2023-2024 season, but if the 75% cap requirement and roster requirements were to remain the same from this season, the cap floor/max contract average salary would be $45,000, and the whole cap/minimum contract average salary would be $75,000.”

One wrinkle in this, which has yet to be officially addressed, is that there are players who have signed two-year deals that began this season. That means, in theory, if you signed a two-year deal at $40,000 last summer, you’d be getting (proportionally) massively underpaid the following year, when the cap is set to double. I have to think there’s going to be some solution to this, and my guess is that it will be league-wide rather than team-by-team, but it’s a bit strange to me that they announced the salary cap doubling without addressing this issue in the press release or having a pre-planned process for multi-year deals. As is usually the case with big PHF news, there was no press conference, but hopefully we get some more updates soon. I’ve heard mixed things from players about whether their general manager have had any reassurance for them, but mostly it seems like nobody has any idea what the plan is.

My esteemed colleague Howard Megdal also wrote about the salary cap for Forbes, which you can read here:

The PHF announced its All-Star weekend location as well this week. Last year, Toronto was slated to host the festivities, but they were ultimately moved, so it’s not a surprise to see that the league will return to Toronto for real (hopefully) this year. The plan is to have three all-star teams compete in a round-robin competition. It doesn’t look like there will be a skills competition, but hopefully more is planned surrounding the game to make a full weekend of content and celebration. The game will be played at the historic Mattamy Athletic Centre and streamed on TSN and ESPN2.

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The middle part of the PHF standings continues to be a free-for-all. The last-place Buffalo Beauts are one good weekend away from getting right back in the mix. The Boston Pride are sitting high with 19 points, followed by the Toronto Six with 16 points. The next-closest team is the Minnesota Whitecaps with 11.

Last weekend was a huge weekend for the Whitecaps, who split their series with the Whale in Connecticut. Abbie Ives recorded her first shutout on Friday in a 2-0 win, but Minnesota bounced back on Saturday with a 4-3 win. The Metropolitan Riveters and the Six also split the weekend, while the Pride swept the Beauts in Buffalo. 

The Riveters’ 3-2 shootout win against the Six on Saturday was followed up by a 5-2 loss on Sunday. The win was also Katie Burt’s debut for the Riveters, and on top of making three saves in the shootout, she posted a .938 save percentage through the three periods. Minttu Tuominen continued her dominant stretch by scoring the only goal in the shootout to win the game. On Sunday, Brittany Howard (Toronto) and Jillian Dempsey (Boston) scored hat tricks — both the first of their careers, which is a wild thing to say about a rookie and a player who has been in the league since day one in the same sentence.

Boston shut out Buffalo on Saturday behind a terrific effort from Corinne Schroeder, who holds the PHF record with four shutouts already this season. On Sunday the teams scored a collective 12 goals in a game that ended as a 7-5 win for Boston. Howard now leads the league with 13 points and 11 goals. Dempsey and Loren Gabel both have 11 points after Gabel tied a league record with six points in Sunday’s contest.

Finally, the PWHPA held its All-Star showcase last weekend in Ottawa. Team Keller ultimately won the round robin, going undefeated and capping it with a shootout win. 

The 3v3 play of the round-robin tournament was absolutely electric, fast, skilled and hilarious. We even got a goalie change on the fly:

Here are the winners of the skills competitions:

Fastest skater: You won’t believe this, but Kendall Coyne-Schofield won the fastest skater competition with a time of 13.872 seconds. That time would have beaten Dylan Larkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov last year at the NHL’s showcase.

Accuracy: Brianne Jenner won the accuracy shooting competition with a time of 10.627 seconds.

Skills challenge: Marie-Philip Poulin won this with a time of 37.88 seconds.

Save streak: Ann-Renee Desbiens won this with 14 saves in a row.

Unfortunately, the skills competition wasn’t broadcast, which is a real bummer because it’s always fans’ favorite part of any all-star weekend. We got to see highlights, but it’s not really the same. 

The PWHPA also announced a few more tour stops in the new year:

  • Jan. 21 and 22: Owen Sound and Collingwood, Ontario
  • Feb. 10 and 11: Peterborough, Niagara, Barrie and Kitchener, Ontario (in partnership with the Ontario Hockey League)
  • March 4-6: Arlington, Va. (in partnership with the Washington Capitals)

Finally, it was announced on Thursday that the 2023 Women’s World Championship will be held in Brampton, Ontario this April.

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