The Connecticut Whale returned from a lengthy break and continued their climb up the Premier Hockey Federation standings with a pair of wins this past weekend. The Whale beat the Minnesota Whitecaps by scores of 4-2 and 4-1, respectively. Elsewhere, the Boston Pride and Metropolitan Riveters split the other weekend series.
Whale vs. Whitecaps
Despite not playing for a month, the Whale looked sharp over the weekend. They outplayed and overpowered the Whitecaps on Saturday, doubling them up in shots and winning by a 4-2 margin.
Taylor Girard put Connecticut up with an early lead, throwing a quick shot on goal after a setup by Kennedy Marchment from behind the net. Kaycie Anderson added to the lead late in the first, jumping on a loose puck in the crease from below the goal line.
Allie Munroe gave the Whale a three-goal lead with a shorthanded tally on a 2-on-1 opportunity less than eight minutes into the second period, before the Whitecaps finally got one back.
Haley Mack scored a gritty goal on a rebound; she was just in the right place at the right time to deflect the puck after Brenneman made the initial save on a shot by Audra Morrison.
As the teams neared the halfway mark of the third period, Marchment gave the Whale a bit of cushion, regaining her team's three-goal lead. Marchment picked up a pass from Alyssa Wohlfeiler, skated in front of the net and slid the puck in on a backhand.
Lexie Laing scored on the power-play with about five minutes left, but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit.
Breanna Blesi made her PHF debut in net, stopping seven of eight shots faced in twenty minutes of action, as the Whitecaps were still without the injured Amanda Leveille. Blesi came in to replace Jenna Brenneman, who made 24 saves.
Blesi previously played at the University of Wisconsin, appearing in eight games between 2018 and 2021.
Nine different Whale players registered at least a point in Sunday's second half of the series, when Connecticut beat Minnesota 4-1.
Both teams started off on equal footing, with exciting action at both ends of the ice. For the second straight game, it was Taylor Girard who scored the first goal off a pass from Kennedy Marchment with 2:28 to play in the first period.
Things settled down in the second period, with both teams combining for just 14 shots on goal. Marchment scored the lone goal of the period, top-shelf on the power play.
Connecticut played a stifling third period, holding the Whitecaps to just five shots on goal. The Whale also scored twice, as Melissa Samoskevich and Janine Weber tallied within 2:34 of each other.
Minnesota was able to get on the board a few minutes later on a goal by Ashleigh Brykaliuk, but Connecticut held them to just the one goal and swept the weekend.
With her assist on the opening goal, Marchment set a new Whale franchise record for points in a season (now 24). The Whale have also won ten consecutive games, also a new franchise record.
Mariah Fujimagari stopped 22 of 23 shots faced, while Blesi made 29 saves in her first full PHF game.
Pride vs. Riveters
A goal by Taylor Wenczkowski broke a scoreless tie more than halfway through Saturday's game, leading the Pride to an eventual 2-0 win.
Boston controlled play early, as the Riveters struggled to get out of their own zone. Just a few minutes in, Jenna Rheault thought she'd scored, but Brooke Wolejko had made the save and the puck was pushed in after the whistle. Overall, the opening period was a bit of a slow start for both teams.
Wenczkowski finally opened the scoring with 7:21 to play in the second period. Meghara McManus threw a shot on net from the slot; it bounced off the crossbar and found a waiting Wenczkowski, who was able to knock it in.
The Riveters actually outshot the Pride 26-14 in the first forty minutes, but it was that one goal that made the difference. Metro had several chances later in the game, including an opportunity by Madison Packer that narrowly missed.
Christina Putigna added an empty-netter with 20 seconds left to seal the win.
Metro came out strong in Sunday's rematch, with some high-quality chances early on. Despite that, it was the Pride who opened the scoring – once again, from Wenczkowski, who tipped a shot by Kali Flanagan. Boston nearly went up 2-0 in the dying seconds of the opening frame, but it was ruled no goal due to a kicking motion.
That was a much-needed break for the Riveters, who started off the second periods with a few good opportunities backed by strong goaltending from Sonjia Shelly. Mallory Rushton tied the game 5:31 on a rebound after the initial shot from Packer Minutes later, Rebecca Russo gave Metro the lead.
The back-and-forth continued, as McManus tied the game late in the second. An icing call was waived off, and McManus capitalized after a turnover behind the net and tucked it in from the slot.
After a fruitless third, Packer gave her team the win late in the overtime period. With just 38 seconds to play, Packer picked up a pass from Kendall Cornine, toe-dragged around Jillian Dempsey and beat Katie Burt.
Shelly had 40 saves in the win, while Burt's shutout streak ended as she stopped 32 of 35 shots faced.
New Ownership for the Six
BTM Partners has sold the Toronto Six to a new ownership group that includes current Six assistant coach Angela James. James is joined by retired NHLer Anthony Stewart, Bernice Carnegie, Ted Nolan. A full list of participants in the new ownership group will be announced when the sale has closed.
With the sale, BTM Partners will divest their interest in one PHF team. They still hold ownership for the Metropolitan Riveters and Boston Pride, and will reportedly own the league's upcoming new team in Montreal, too.
- Toronto Six (13-2-1, 40 points)
- Connecticut Whale (12-3-1, 37 points)
- Boston Pride (10-5-1, 28 points)
- Metropolitan Riveters (6-11-1, 18 points)
- Minnesota Whitecaps (5-12-1, 16 points)
- Buffalo Beauts (4-12-0, 11 points)
All six teams will be in action this coming weekend. Here's the full schedule:
- Boston @ Toronto, Saturday 2:00 PM and Sunday at 1:00 PM Eastern
- Minnesota @ Metropolitan, Saturday at 2:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM Eastern
- Buffalo @ Connecticut, Saturday 3:00 PM and Sunday at 2:00 PM Eastern
The Isobel Cup Playoffs are just a few weeks away. Most teams have four games remaining in their regular season schedule; Metropolitan and Minnesota have just this weekend's pair of games left.
Heading into this weekend, there are three teams in the race for a semifinal bye: Toronto, Connecticut, and Boston. The Six need to earn at least one point over their next four games to clinch a bye.
(Photo: Connecticut Whale/PHF)