PWHPA Rosters set for Dream Gap Tour — PHF Schedule Released — NCAA D1 Upset — Must Click Women’s Hockey Links

The IX: Hockey Friday with Eleni Demestihas, Sept. 23, 2022

Happy Friday everyone! It’s been another slightly quieter week, but it should be the last one for a while. This week the PHF schedule was released, we got a new PHF captain, the PWHPA rosters were announced and NCAA hockey started back up.

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Beginning with college hockey, on Thursday night Wisconsin (3) played Penn State (14). Penn State beat Wisconsin 4-1, which is a genuinely shocking scoreline. Last week I said I wasn’t sure that I bought Penn State’s ranking and I’m going to very happily eat my words. Not only did Penn State beat Wisconsin, they were totally under their skin. It’s possible this was a fluke, possible that Wisconsin was dealing with early-season rust, all sorts of things are possible…including that Penn State is the real deal. Wisconsin was frustrated and taking sloppy penalties, and Tessa Janecke is already a ridiculous college player in her very first season—balanced, fast, with a ridiculous shot. Stick taps to Penn State for a seriously impressive win.

This weekend’s matchups include some exhibition games between Canadian teams and NCAA teams, and non-conference matchups. I give you the games of most interest to me below, in case you’d like a handful to focus on:

  • The rest of the Wisconsin vs. Penn State matchup
  • St. Lawrence vs. Providence
  • RIT vs. UConn
  • Lindenwood vs. Bemidji State

I think these will be fun ones to watch and there are some teams in here that, because they’re not ranked, people tend to miss out on watching much during the season. I think that’s a mistake because there are great players being showcased in every matchup, and especially if you follow the professional leagues, you’re likely to see at least a handful of these players a few years down the line even if they’re not top prospects for national teams.

PHF schedule

The PHF schedule was released this week after a long wait. The first game of the 2022-2023 season will be Minnesota at Toronto on November 5. Later that night Connecticut will open their season in Boston with a 2022 Isobel Cup Final rematch, where Boston will raise their banner, so you can bet that game will be scrappy. The Montreal Force will play their first-ever game against Buffalo, also on November 5. The Riveters open their season on November 6 against Boston, who will have a quick turnaround from their game against Connecticut the night before.

A few things I noticed in the schedule as I read it over:

  • The Whale’s first two home games are November 19 and 20, but they won’t be in their new rink yet. Instead they’re playing those games at their practice rink in Milford, which isn’t set up for streaming. As such, at least right now, those games won’t be available to watch, which is a real shame for fans of both teams, but especially Beauts fans, who won’t likely have the option of making it out to Milford to see it in person.
  • Friday night games! We’ve never had those before and I’m so excited to see them. A huge advantage to new venues that isn’t being talked about enough, in my opinion, is the ability to avoid the dreaded Sunday afternoon games. I don’t know if this is a popular opinion, but I’ve always hated Sunday afternoon games. There’s rarely a good crowd.
  • The regular season ends in March. Right now we don’t know the format (or the location) of playoffs, but I have heard it hinted that the format of playoffs might change this year, which would be amazing. I really hope we see playoff series instead of one-game playoffs this year. We’ll see if that’s coming down the pipe.
  • The Force are playing across the province, in Montréal, Rivière-du-Loup, Sept-Îles, Saint-Jérôme, Rimouski and Quebéc. I don’t think this was necessarily always the plan, and it strikes me as likely that the league got the team together too close to the season to find a permanent home for their first season, but I think it ended up being a pretty cool idea to introduce the team to the province in its inaugural season.
  • The Whale will play a neutral site game against the Force on January 14, with the location still TBA.
  • All-star weekend is January 27 through January 29, with the location and format TBA. Last year it was supposed to be in Toronto and had to be moved, so we were told it would be in Toronto this year. I’m not sure what’s going on with that but I wouldn’t be surprised if they “announce” Toronto as the venue again later in the season.

PWHPA roster reveal

PWHPA rosters were also announced this week ahead of the first Dream Gap Tour stop. Remember, PWHPA rosters are “region-agnostic,” meaning that these players can practice anywhere and many of them are located in different markets except during their tour stops.

Team adidas has the most goalies of any team with four, including two goalies who went to Worlds with Team USA, Maddie Rooney and Aerin Frankel. Frankel is in her first pro season and will have to fight hard for minutes against Rooney, Sydney Scobee and Shea Tiley. I was actually surprised not to see her go overseas where she might have been guaranteed more minutes during more games, but at the same time I think it’s difficult to cement yourself in the USA program without being in the PWHPA right now, so I can understand it from that angle. A lot of these players have played together in the CWHL, in college, or on national teams, which is likely to be true across all the PWHPA teams, and will help with chemistry despite some of them practicing separately between tour stops. On this team I’m particularly excited to see more of Jincy Dunne, who really impressed me at Worlds. I would love to see her get the opportunity to quarterback a powerplay with Coyne-Schofield, Nurse and Kessel on it.

Team Harvey’s is a little thinner on defense than adidas in my opinion, but one of their goaltenders is Ann-Reneé Desbiens so it really might not make a difference. On top of that, Marie-Philip Poulin is on this team, so they’re basically set, especially when you add in players like Emily Clark and Jessie Eldridge. I’m excited to see Hayley Scamurra play on this team and hoping she gets better minutes and better matchups than she has for Team USA, where she’s been a fourth line player. I think her skills are being underutilized there, so it would be nice to see her get some reps with Poulin. She’s not just a grinder type of player, she has serious offensive upside that we haven’t gotten to see much of since she was with the Beauts, and I would love to get to see it again.

I think Team Scotiabank is actually my favorite to win it all after looking at the PWHPA rosters. Their goalies include both Emerance Maschmeyer and Kristen Campbell, which is a wild sentence to type. Campbell is completely underrated and could make a big impact here. On top of that, the forward corps includes Alex Carpenter, Victoria Bach, Rebecca Johnston, Tatum Skaggs, Mélodie Daoust and Kelly Pannek, which is seriously impressive. Add to that the fact that their blueline includes Megan Keller, Jamie Bourbonnais, Katelyn Gosling and Ella Shelton, and I genuinely believe this is the most well-rounded team. Their jerseys are also my favorite, which helps their odds, in my opinion.

The last roster, Team Sonnet, includes Hilary Knight, Brianne Jenner and Abby Roque, which would be an insane line if they wanted to try it. This team is likely to rely heavily on Erin Ambros at the blue line, but she’s used to that, so it should work out alright. Claire Thompson is my is one of my three players to watch on this roster, the others being Abby Roque and Iya Gavrilova. Gavrilova has been with the PWHPA since 2019 and we haven’t heard her name very much, but she was impressive with the Calgary Inferno of the CWHL in her two seasons before injury kept her out of the 2018-2019 campaign.

Some additional tidbits for the week:

The Riveters welcomed media to their rink at American Dream this week. My colleague Dan Rice was able to go and we got a look at the rink and a slightly-changed Riveters jersey that I absolutely love. 

The Buffalo Beauts have named their new captain, defender Dominique Kremer. Kremer wore an ‘A’ last season for the Beauts and had a great year, racking up eleven points in twenty games on a team that struggled with offense. Fun fact about Kremer: she was originally a Connecticut Whale draft pack in 2018. Bet the Beauts are glad that being drafted didn’t actually give the team exclusive PHF rights to the player.

Saroya Tinker this week announced a partnership with Sherwood, which you can read more about here.

It looks like former Team Canada goalie Sami Jo Small will be named President of the Toronto Six, as reported by Jeff Marek:

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Written by Eleni Demestihas