Game of the Week
Connecticut Whale 6, Metropolitan Riveters 0
Coming off a Friday loss to the second-place Boston Pride, the Connecticut Whale charged into Sunday's game against the Metropolitan Riveters with a fierce energy and never looked back. It paid off, as the Whale captured a 6-0 win that propelled them into fourth place in the standings.
It took just 1:10 for the Whale to open the scoring. An icing call led to a faceoff in the offensive zone for Connecticut. A drop pass from the faceoff circle found Taylor Girard, who put the shot on net from just outside the circle. Kennedy Marchment tipped it in front, beating Eveliina Mäkinen high on the far side.
The momentum continued to build for the Whale, as they headed to one power play, then another soon after. Thankfully for the Riveters, they afforded the Whale just six seconds of 5-on-3, and these would be their only penalties of the afternoon.
In spite of that, it did cost them another goal. The Riveters found themselves chasing the puck at center ice, but Marchment tipped it backhand to Girard. Riveters defender Reagan Rust did her best to get in the way, but Girard stayed strong on the puck and shot it low between Mäkinen's pad and the far post to make it 2-0 on the power play.
Before the first period was over, Caitrin Lonergan made it a three-goal game with her second of the season. Again, it was the dynamic duo of Girard and Marchment playing a key part in the offense. A long pass up the ice found Girard, who sent it cross-ice to Marchment. Lonergan, in the front of the net, got enough of her stick on it to redirect the puck, which hit Mäkinen's shoulder and careened in.
To shake things up, the Riveters swapped out Mäkinen for Katie Burt to open the second period. For a while, it seemed to be the spark they needed, as the team stepped up nicely in the middle frame and managed a much more even-keeled period. Still, it was Connecticut finding the back of the net once more.
Burt made an initial save through a crowd on the play, which came near the midway point of the game. The puck jumped out on a big rebound to Girard, but Burt made that save, too. Rebound control was lacking, as the puck then flew out in front to Emma Keenan. Burt, who had gone down to make the save on Girard, couldn't quite get back over in time, and Keenan capitalized on the wide-open net.
As even as the second period was, the third period was all Connecticut's game. They outshot the Riveters 11-3 in the final frame, and the Riveters generally seemed to have trouble keeping the puck on their sticks: a bad bounce here, a sliding puck there.
One of those fumbles led the Whale's fifth goal of the afternoon. Melissa Samoskevich finally gained clean possession of the puck and came in on a 2-on-1. The Riveters defender seemed to commit to covering Samoskevich, but she passed it cross-ice to Kateřina Mrázová. Although Burt did get over in time, Mrázová found a hole to trickle the puck into.
Mrázová added another goal later in the third period, capitalizing on a miscue by the Riveters along the boards. Samoskevich, again, sent a crisp pass from the corner, finding Mrázová in front with speed.
Meeri Raisanen stopped all 23 shots faced in her first shutout since December 2, 2018. Girard recorded four points (1G, 3A), while Marchment had three (1G, 2A). Samoskevich, Mrázová, and Allie Munroe each recorded two points.
Mäkinen (four saves) and Burt (24 saves) each allowed three goals. The Riveters were without leading scorer Sarah Bujold.
Other Weekend Action
- The Toronto Six swept their weekend against the Montreal Force, the first-ever all-Canadian matchups in PHF history. Emma Woods scored twice, including the game-winner, in Saturday's 3-2 win, while Elaine Chuli stopped 44 of 46 shots faced. The Six proceeded to win by the same score – but in a shootout – on Sunday. Brooke Stacey recorded a goal and an assist in the loss. Brittany Howard scored twice in the shootout to snag the victory.
- The Minnesota Whitecaps swept their series against the Buffalo Beauts, extending Buffalo's losing streak to six games. Jenna Brenneman recorded her first career win with 11 saves in Saturday's 4-1 decision, powered by goals from Sidney Morin, Natalie Snodgrass, Sydney Brodt, and Denisa Křížová. Eleven different skaters had a point in Sunday's 5-3 win, while Amanda Leveille recorded 25 saves.
- The Boston Pride continued their climb up the standings with a 5-2 win over the Whale on Friday and a 4-1 win over the Riveters on Saturday. Jillian Dempsey had the game-winning goal Saturday, while Loren Gabel recorded a pair of assists. The Pride went 0-for-5 on the power play. In net, Corinne Schroeder had 32 saves.
- Toronto (9-1-2), 27 points
- Boston (9-2-0), 25 points
- Minnesota (6-4-2), 20 points
- Connecticut (4-4-1), 13 points
- Metropolitan (4-8-0), 11 points
- Montreal (4-5-1), 11 points
- Buffalo (1-6-1), 4 points
- Goals: Brittany Howard (12)
- Assists: Loren Gabel (10)
- Points: Brittany Howard, Loren Gabel (18)
- Shots: Brittany Howard, Sidney Morin (55)
- PIM: Kelly Babstock, Olivia Zafuto (20)
- GAA: Corinne Schroeder (2.13)
- Save Percentage: Corinne Schroeder (.941)
Other News & Notes
- As the season progresses, we're getting more & more eager to hear about the PHF's plans for the postseason. With a new team in the fold this year, it's unclear what the playoff scenarios will be – and I wish they would've disclosed this info before the season began. At any rate, Dan Rice from The Ice Garden reported that everything he's hearing points towards the top four teams in the league making the playoffs, which would make the battle between Connecticut, Metro, and Montreal super interesting.
- The PHF's All-Star Weekend is coming up at the end of the month, and details so far have been scarce. No word on whether fans will have any say in the voting this season, but given that it's so soon, if there will be a fan vote component, it should be announced ASAP. Team rosters, coaches, and additional details about the competition and ancillary events have yet to be announced.
- The Beauts have signed goaltender Tera Hofmann to a prorated contract for the rest of the season. Per GM Nate Oliver, Buffalo had hoped to sign three goalies from the get-go, but made the sacrifice in not doing so in order to maximize their salary cap. Kassidy Sauvé going to LTIR and Hofmann getting a prorated contract allowed for a little bit of cap space. Sauvé is expected to return to the lineup this season, though no specific date has been determined. (She has already past the 21-day minimum for LTIR.)
- Some (especially Beauts fans) have noticed the lack of playing time in recent games for Autumn MacDougall. MacDougall played sparse minutes in both games this weekend, including just 37 seconds in Sunday's first period. Head coach Rhea Coad clarified that it is her (Rhea's) choice and that MacDougall is not injured – certainly a puzzling move to essentially bench your leading scorer from last season when you're in the midst of a six-game losing skid.
- The PHF recently announced multi-year partnerships with Respect Group and RealResponse, along with the introduction of mandatory background checks for all league & team staff. These come in an attempt to "strengthen the league's commitment to fostering a healthy, respectful, safe, and inclusive environment for all players and staff."
- Saturday, January 14: Montreal at Connecticut (in Pittsburgh), 3:00 PM Eastern
- Saturday, January 14: Minnesota at Metropolitan, 3:00 PM Eastern
- Saturday, January 14: Buffalo at Boston, 7:00 PM Eastern
- Sunday, January 15: Minnesota at Metropolitan, 2:00 PM Eastern
- Sunday, January 15: Buffalo at Boston, 2:00 PM Eastern
(Photo: Manny Fernandes)