PHF Weekend Primer Mar 10-12
March 10, 2023 – Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) News Release
BOSTON, MA – – The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) regular season is coming to end this weekend with six teams playing the final six of the record 84-game 2022-23 schedule before the Isobel Cup Playoffs. The trio of doubleheaders begins with the Riveters and visiting Buffalo Beauts, and features the four semifinal teams competing for final playoff positioning including the Boston Pride and Toronto Six battling for first place, and the Connecticut Whale taking on the Minnesota Whitecaps with third place on the line.
Here’s a closer look at the action:
FRIDAY MARCH 10, 2023
7:00 PM ET – Buffalo Beauts (5-14-3) vs Metropolitan Riveters (9-13-0)
(ESPN+ & TSN+ with Maura Sheridan and Alexis Pearson)
Even though both teams are outside of the playoff picture, it’s always a battle between these Founding Four rivals who still have plenty to play for this final weekend. The Riveters just climbed into fifth place with two wins over Montreal at American Dream which counted as their first series sweep in over three years. A Friday night win would give them their first three-game winning-streak in over five years dating back to their 2017-18 championship season. Buffalo comes into town on a three-game losing-streak but can’t be overlooked after winning three-straight road games before the current skid. Two regulation wins in the Beauts favor would not only clinch the season’s head-to-head but catapult them out of the basement and ahead of the Force and Riveters overall. The first half of the season series was split Jan. 21-22 in Buffalo where the Beauts won the opener 4-1 backed by an outstanding 41-save performance by Lovisa Berndtsson for her first career win. The Riveters responded in a big way, winning 8-2 powered by two goals and one assist by both Kelly Babstock and Madison Packer with a score that tied a single game franchise record. Both offenses rank among the lowest in goals scored but could find another opportunity to breakout when matched opposite defensive units that have also allowed the most goals against. Despite their goals against, the Riveters have allowed the second fewest shots while the Beauts generated just 42 in two games last week against the Whale who rank first in the category. On special teams, the Riveters and Beauts rank fifth and sixth respectively on the power play, with Buffalo’s penalty kill the third best in the PHF compared to the Riveters in seventh.
SATURDAY MARCH 11, 2023
2:00 PM ET – Buffalo Beauts vs Metropolitan Riveters
(ESPN+ & TSN+ with Joe Malfa and Erica Ayala)
2:00 PM ET – Boston Pride (18-3-1) vs Toronto Six (16-4-2)
(ESPN+ & TSN+ with Maura Sheridan and Alexis Pearson)
The 2022-23 regular season winners will be determined by the outcome of this series as Boston and Toronto battle for positioning atop the overall standings in the highly anticipated matchup. This could also be a preview of the Isobel Cup Championship in Arizona with both teams playoff bound as the top seeds in their respective semifinals. With first place on the line, the games will showcase both of the league’s top two producing offenses and two strongest defenses in terms of most goals for and fewest against. The Pride lead both categories and hold a three-point edge in the standings following their recent weekend sweep over Minnesota. T6 is also riding a two-game winning-streak from their road sweep over the Whitecaps and had last weekend off to rest and prepare for the playoff stretch. The first head-to-head of the season on Nov. 26 in Boston was a 3-2 back and forth affair that was settled by the Pride’s McKenna Brand in overtime and delivered the competitiveness that can be expected once again. The drama continued in the Nov. 27 rematch where Toronto built an early 3-0 lead that chased All-Star Corinne Schroeder from the crease. The Pride came back to tie it before T6 scored four unanswered in a 7-3 win with two goals from both Brittany Howard and Michela Cava. Boston holds the special teams advantage with the number three power play and top ranked penalty kill, with Toronto placing fourth in both situations. This series is reminiscent of last March when the Pride visited T6 and competed in a playoff type atmosphere where both games were won by Toronto in overtime. The teams would go on to compete in their second-straight semifinal in Tampa Bay where Boston won en route to their second-straight title.
7:00 PM ET – Connecticut Whale (12-8-2) vs Minnesota Whitecaps (10-9-3)
(ESPN+ & TSN+ with Maura Sheridan and Alexis Pearson)
Another weekend series with playoff implications features Connecticut and Minnesota that will ultimately determine third and fourth place in the standings heading into next week’s semifinals where both teams will hit the road to either Boston or Toronto. The Whale hold a four-point lead and plenty of momentum on the heels of four-straight victories including last weekend’s road sweep in Buffalo. The Whitecaps on the other hand have experienced tremendous highs and lows this calendar year that started with a franchise best six-straight wins and has turned into a franchise worst six-straight losses including four on home ice. The season series is split following Dec. 9-10 games in Connecticut where the Whale won their debut at ISCC with a 2-0 shutout by Abbie Ives, and a Whitecaps bounce-back with a last-minute goal from Natalie Snodgrass in the 4-3 victory. Both teams have excelled on the power play this season with the Connecticut unit ranked number one with .250 efficiency and Minnesota ranked number two at .215 with a considerable drop thereafter. A different story on the penalty kill where the Whitecaps rank fifth and the Whale rank sixth. This will be the Whale’s fourth trip all-time to the State of Hockey where they lost their first six games between 2018-20, but swept last season’s series in March by 4-2 and 4-1 scores. This could also be a championship preview should the semifinal underdogs prevail and would add to their recent playoff history that includes final four triumphs on both sides with a 7-0 Minnesota win in 2021 and a 4-2 Connecticut victory in 2022.
SUNDAY MARCH 12, 2023
2:00 PM ET – Connecticut Whale vs Minnesota Whitecaps
(ESPN+ & TSN+ with Josh Eastern and Erica Ayala)
2:00 PM ET – Boston Pride vs Toronto Six
(ESPN+ & TSN+ with Steve Goldstein and Alexis Pearson)
With Boston’s three-point lead over Toronto, the Pride can clinch first place with a single win of any kind or two points by virtue of two overtime or shootout losses. Conversely, T6 needs to win both games including at least one in regulation to claim first place. Similarly with Connecticut’s four-point lead over Minnesota, the Whale would secure third place with a single win of any kind or two points in defeat. The Whitecaps also need to win both games including one in regulation to finish in third. The first tiebreaker in the standings is head-to-head which would work in Minnesota’s favor in the event they end up tied in points with Connecticut. Isobel Cup semifinal games will be hosted by Boston and Toronto March 16-20, with the championship slated for Arizona on March 26. Click here for full schedule and ticket details.
AROUND THE RINKS
The Riveters will celebrate Pride in both of their weekend games by bringing back their popular rainbow theme jersey design from last season. The team will also host a public skate with fans following Saturday’s afternoon game. In Toronto, Parasport Ambassador Claire Buchanan and three-time Olympic gold medalist with Canada’s National Women’s Team Cherie Piper will participate in the ceremonial puck drop. The first period intermission will also feature a demonstration by members of Canada’s Para Ice Hockey Team. Then on Sunday, T6 welcomes Olympians Annamay Oldershaw and Carrie Buday for the pre-game ceremonies. Minnesota is partnering with Mosaic Hockey Collective for the Shut Out Hate Night on Saturday. The organization works to build a hockey community that empowers players of color with skills, resources, and positive experiences to grow and give back to the game. Sunday’s Whitecaps game will provide fan appreciation giveaways and a special post-game meet-and-greet with the team.
GABEL GOES FOR TRIPLE CROWN AND TITLE
Loren Gabel is the current frontrunner for the PHF scoring title and holds an impressive lead in all three offensive categories with 38 points, 19 goals, and 19 assists in 20 games played for Boston. If successful, she would be the first offensive triple crown winner since the Pride’s Hilary Knight who produced 33 points with 15 goals and 18 assists over 17 games during the inaugural 2015-16 season. Gabel also needs just two points to tie teammate Jillian Dempsey’s single season points record of 40.
TUOMINEN TALLYING AT HISTORIC RATE
Riveters defender Minttu Tuominen has three goals in her last four games and now leads her position with eight including a league-leading five on the power play. Her eight goals are already a franchise record among defenders and the most by a PHF blue liner in a single season since Minnesota’s Sydney Baldwin scored eight in 17 games in 2019-20 and is behind only Boston’s Gigi Marvin who scored 10 in 15 games in 2018-19. Five power play goals are also tied for the most in a single season since the league began tracking the stat in 2019-20.
MACPHERSON TO BECOME BEAUTS ALL-TIME LEADER
When Cassidy MacPherson steps onto the ice on Friday she will become Buffalo’s new franchise leader in career games played with 73 as a member of the Beauts. The fourth-year veteran is currently tied at 72 games with Corinne Buie who starred with the organization from 2016-20 and was a member of the 2017 Isobel Cup champions in addition to her two seasons as captain. MacPherson has 23 career points including six goals and 17 assists.
LOOK OUT FOR LONERGAN
Connecticut’s Caitrin Lonergan has really been coming into her own over the second half of the season, quietly lighting it up for eight goals in her last 10 games to bring her rookie total to 10. The newcomer from Clarkson University is tied for third in team scoring with 17 points in 22 games and ranks fourth across the league in scoring among collegiate graduates behind Montreal’s Jade Downie-Landry, Boston’s Élizabeth Giguère, and Minnesota’s Natalie Snodgrass.
LEVEILLE OFF LTIR
The Whitecaps have activated goaltender Amanda Leveille from long-term injury reserve ahead of their weekend series against the Whale. The move comes at just the right time for Minnesota who haven’t won a game since their star backstop was between-the-pipes Feb. 6 against Montreal. Leveille has won nine of her 15 starts this season with a 2.41 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage. Her 93 career games and 61 wins both rank first all-time.
10 players have more than 20 points heading into the PHF’s final weekend including Toronto captain Shiann Darkangelo with 23 in 22 games. She’s the most experienced player in the group behind Pride captain Jillian Dempsey but is having the best offensive season of her five-year career. Her 11 goals exceeds the 10 she tallied with Connecticut in 2015-16, while her point total tops the 20 she recorded with T6 in 2021-22. The 29-year-old’s career total now stands at 71 points which ranks eighth all-time in 77 games.
Boston’s Corinne Schroeder will look to build on her single season record of 18 wins and eight shutouts over the league’s final weekend and continues to lead the way with a goals-against-average of 1.66 and save percentage of .955. She’ll surely face Toronto’s Elaine Chuli who ranked second with 12 wins and two shutouts, and third with a 2.58 GAA and .919 SV%. Minnesota gets a boost with Amanda Leveille back from LTIR, but Jenna Brenneman has been solid in her five starts with a 3.18 GAA and .905 SV%. Abbie Ives has started Connecticut’s last three games, all wins, and also has nine total victories in 15 starts. Her 2.74 GAA ranks fifth among starters, while her .896 SV% is eighth. The Riveters have split their goaltending duties of late between Katie Burt (2.86 / .901) and Rachel McQuigge (3.59 / .883) who have four and three wins respectively. Lovisa Berndtsson (3.49 / .896) is expected to make a 12th start of the season for Buffalo this weekend, while Samantha Ridgewell (2.59 / .919) has posted impressive statistics in her four starts.
Boston’s Loren Gabel enters the final weekend as the leader in points with 38, goals with 19, and assists with 19. Connecticut’s Kennedy Marchment is second with 33 points including 16 goals and 17 assists. Other team leaders in action include Toronto’s Brittany Howard with 25 points, Jonna Albers and Natalie Snodgrass both with 20 points for Minnesota, Kelly Babstock of the Riveters has 20 points, and Buffalo’s Mikyla Grant-Mentis has 18 points. Marchment has taken over the league-lead with five game-winning goals, her Whale teammate Taylor Girard continues to lead with four shorthanded goals, and the Riveters’ Minttu Tuominen leads with five power play goals. Shots on goal leaders by team are Gabel (131), Marchment (101), Minnesota’s Sidney Morin (90), the Riveters’ Sarah Bujold (86), Toronto’s Shiann Darkangelo (84), and Grant-Mentis (72). Team faceoff leaders in overall efficiency with 100 or more wins includes Darkangelo (.613), Babstock (.576), Minnesota’s Liz Schepers (.552), Connecticut’s Lenka Serdar (.535), Boston’s Taylor Wenczkowski (.520), and Buffalo’s Cassidy MacPherson (.475).
ICE QUEENS HIGHLIGHTS IWD CELEBRATIONS
A new documentary celebrating the contributions and impact of Black women in hockey was released on Mar. 8 coinciding with International Women’s Day. “Ice Queens”, directed by Kwame Damon Mason, has plenty of PHF representation featuring T6 general manager Angela James who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, Buffalo Beauts star forward Mikyla Grant-Mentis, and 2018 Isobel Cup champion Kelsey Koelzer who made history as the league’s first overall pick in 2016 and currently coaches at Arcadia University. The film by NHL Original Productions is available to watch online.
ROAD TO NCAA FROZEN FOUR
Eight teams remain in contention for NCAA women’s hockey supremacy heading into Saturday’s regionals. Top ranked Ohio State will take on Quinnipiac after the Bobcats thrilling 3-2 triple overtime victory over Penn State on Thursday. Fourth ranked Yale will take on the fifth ranked Hockey East champions Northeastern. Colgate, the third ranked ECAC Hockey champions, face Wisconsin who eliminated Long Island University 9-1. WCHA champion Minnesota who are ranked number two takes on Minnesota-Duluth who shutout Clarkson 2-0. 45 current PHF players graduated from the programs still in competition including 11 from Quinnipiac and UMD, five from Northeastern and Yale, four from Minnesota and Wisconsin, three from Ohio State, and two from Colgate. The NCAA Frozen Four takes place Mar. 17-19 in Duluth, MN.
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