Holiday gifts for each PWHL team — What to watch for as inaugural season approaches

The IX: Hockey Friday with The Ice Garden, Dec. 22, 2023

Happy holidays, women’s hockey fans! It’s Alyssa Turner from The Ice Garden here bringing you this week’s newsletter. With the holiday season upon us and the PWHL season less than two weeks away, I decided to take a different approach with today’s piece by giving each PWHL team a holiday gift. 

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(Editor’s note: this is the last Hockey Friday of 2023. The IX is off next week, and we return with Hockey Friday on Jan. 5, 2024.)

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Toronto — A bigger arena

We all know how big of a hockey market Toronto is. We saw it with the Furies and Thunder in the CWHL and then we saw it with the Six during their Isobel Cup run. It was obvious that the PWHL team in Toronto wouldn’t have any issues selling tickets for their home games this season. So far the team has sold out every single game at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto. They have the smallest rink out of all six teams as Mattamy only seats 2,539 people before standing room tickets.

If I had the PWHL Toronto on my holiday gift list an arena with more seats would be the first thing I’d give them. 

Ottawa — More hype 

As we approach Ottawa’s opening game on Jan. 2nd against Montreal they are set to break the women’s hockey record for the biggest crowd during a professional game at TD Place Arena. The downtown rink seats 6,500 people before standing room and the team just recently released more tickets in an attempt to sell out the game entirely.

When you look at the roster on paper PWHL Ottawa is fast, gritty and fun. They’re also very young. I don’t think people are realizing how good this Ottawa team will be this season. So with that I would like to give PWHL Ottawa some more hype ahead of their inaugural season. 

Minnesota — Home ice advantage 

Minnesota seems to be a team that many fans and people around the game view as a “lower”-end team compared to the rest. Their roster is a little older and lacks a lot of higher-end talent than the other teams do. In my opinion, they’re still one of the best squads in the league: stellar in the net, fast forward core and a solid blue line. If Minnesota wants to bring some more respect to its name, it’s going to have to fall back on their home ice advantage. 

If any team will have the hometown crowd behind them it’ll be Minnesota; the only thing the team has to do is put out a great product on home ice. If I was giving PWHL Minnesota a holiday gift this year, I would give them the power of having the other teams absolutely despise playing at Xcel this season. 

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Boston — A Gigi Marvin revenge tour

Earlier this week PWHL Boston announced the signing of 36-year old Gigi Marvin. The five-time World Champ, Olympic Gold Medalist, Isobel and Clarkson Cup Champion will make her return to the ice for the first time since the 2020-21 season with the newest team in town. 

Heading into the season Marvin is currently the oldest player in the PWHL, but that doesn’t mean anything for a player like her. If I were to give Boston anything this holiday season I would give them a Gigi Marvin Revenge Tour because heck, wouldn’t that be fun? 

New York — Top-six minutes for Madison Packer

When you look back at Madison Packer’s Elite Prospect page you’ll notice one common occurrence: consistency. Packer has been one of the most consistent women’s hockey players on the planet during both her college and professional career. 

PWHL New York announced the signing of the former Riveters captain earlier this week and many women’s hockey fans let out a massive sigh of relief. Everyone knows she deserved that roster spot, and she is going to thrive there. If I were to give New York anything this year, it would be some solid top-six minutes throughout the whole season. Imagine Madison Packer and Abby Roque on the same line together? Absolutely unreal (and chaotic). 

Montreal — A Jillian Dempsey hat trick on Feb. 4

Now you might be wondering: Alyssa, what’s so special about Feb. 4? Well, if you take a look at Montreal’s schedule for the upcoming season, that’s the first game they play Boston. Massachusetts is a state Jillian Dempsey has spent pretty much every moment of her life and hockey career in. Born in Winthrop, accompanied by four seasons at Harvard and then 10 seasons of professional hockey in Boston, Dempsey and Massachusetts run deep.

Montreal shocked the hockey world when it selected Dempsey 66th overall at the PWHL Player Draft back in September. For the first time in her career, Dempsey will lace up the skates with a team not from the state of Massachusetts. How poetic would a hat trick be against Boston on Feb. 4? 

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 The Ice Garden