Record: 14-8-2, 43 points
Final Standings: 3rd overall (of 7)
Playoffs: Lost in semifinals
Ownership: Shared Hockey Enterprises
Head Coach: Colton Orr
General Manager: Alexis Moed
Leading Scorer: Kennedy Marchment - 35 points (17G, 18A) in 24 games)
Top Goalie: Abbie Ives, 10-6-0-0, .902 sv% and 2.57 GAA
The Connecticut Whale have really been getting stronger as a franchise over the years. Last season, they made it all the way to the Isobel Cup Final and were the best team in the league during the regular season. This season wasn't quite as good for the team – they finished third and lost in the semifinal – but overall, it feels like they're getting closer to success. The Whale are the only Founding Four team yet to win the Isobel Cup.
Like other teams, this season was a mixed bag for the Whale. Unsurprisingly, they had no trouble with the last-place Beauts, sweeping the season series, and struggled a bit against the first-place Pride, winning just one of four meetings.
Their season wasn't helped by almost a month off between their first and second games. After dropping a 4-0 season opener to the Pride, the Whale had to wait nearly a full month before their next game, thanks to a couple postponements due to inclement weather. Six games in a span of three weeks followed.
For much of the regular season, they'd win a game or two, then lose a game or two. They struggled to find consistency across games at times, like winning a 6-4 matchup with the Pride one day, then falling 5-2 the next. A 6-0 win against the Riveters was followed by a 5-4 loss to the Force.
Finally, mid-February arrived, and with it, so did the Whale's stride. They ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 24-11 in that span. Their last four games were on the road, in Buffalo and Minnesota, and the streak as a whole helped push them up the standings and secure a playoff spot.
As the third seed, the Whale faced the second-seeded Toronto Six in the semifinals. It was a tight series, requiring three games before the Six ultimately came out on top. The Whale won the first game of the series 5-3, but fell in overtime 3-2 in game two. The Six overpowered them for a 3-0 win in the third game to take the series.
Kennedy Marchment, the team's leading scorer, had a successful sophomore campaign, with 35 points. She won 46 percent of the faceoffs she took, and added five blocks and six game-winning goals. Her 110 shots on goal were second-most in the PHF, behind only Loren Gabel (146).
Marchment wasn't the only one who made a splash for the Whale. Taylor Girard averaged more than a point-per-game, with 10 goals and 18 assists in 24 games. She went on to add four points (3G, 1A) in the semifinals. Eight of her ten goals came on special teams.
Catrin Lonergan, Justine Reyes, and Kateřina Mrázová also stepped up offensively for the Whale. Mrázová also served as an alternate captain for Czechia at Worlds and won a bronze medal alongside three fellow PHF players.
- vs. Boston: 1-3-0 (outscored 18-10)
- vs. Buffalo: 4-0-0 (outscored opp. 16-6)
- vs. Metropolitan: 2-1-1 (outscored opp. 17-9)
- vs. Minnesota: 3-1-1 (outscored opp. 11-5)
- vs. Montreal: 2-1-1 (outscored opp. 14-12)
- vs. Toronto: 2-2-0 (tied in goals 17-17)
Longtime Whale captain and defender Shannon Turner has hung up her skates, officially announcing her retirement on April 6. Turner retires as the all-time franchise leader in games played, assists, and penalty minutes. Her leadership, both on and off the ice, will certainly be missed.
While Turner's retirement leaves a sizable gap on the Whale roster, fans can take solace in the signing of Olympian and World Champion defender Kacey Bellamy. The 36-year-old last played with the PWHPA in 2021 and has come out of retirement, signing a one-year contract worth $122,000. Bellamy previously spent two seasons with the Pride and served as a scout and player liaison for the PHF this past season. Bellamy's presence on the blueline could elevate the Whale power play to something truly deadly.
Marchment and Girard, along with Allie Munroe, Tori Howran, and Melissa Samoskevich, all signed two-year contracts last summer, so unless we hear otherwise, they should all be back with the Whale in the fall. Bellamy's signing could also attract other high-level talents to the team – definitely something to keep an eye on as the Whale are poised for a great season.
The Whale also recently extended head coach Coltor Orr. His contract now goes through the 2024-25 season. Under Orr's tenure, the Whale have gone 33-33-6 in the regular season and 3-4-1 in the postseason. He is the second-longest tenured head coach in the PHF, having joined the Whale in 2019. (Only Boston's Paul Mara, who joined the Pride in 2018, has been on longer.)
(Photo: Joe Sargent/Pittsburgh Penguins)