CWHL Weekend Preview: Final Weekend Before the Clarkson Cup!

The final weekend of the regular season is upon us! The Clarkson Cup starts next Wednesday, and the schedule is up at the CWHL website! We won’t know until Sunday afternoon what all the seeding is (besides Toronto, who is 4th), so check back then.

We’re planning to have both a Clarkson Cup preview and some stuff about the CWHL Awards, so keep an eye out early next week for those from us. The Coach of the Year award is going to be particularly interesting with the coaching turn over this year. According to my correspondence with the league, any head coach is eligible, regardless of if they are currently a head coach, which may mean my previous pick of Calgary’s Kevin Haller could still be in the running.

Boston Blades @ Montreal Stars

  • Saturday February 28th, 5:00 PM CDT Streamed
  • Sunday March 1st, 12:00 PM CDT

These two teams will be playing for the top spot in the Clarkson Cup, as Boston has 31 points on the season and Montreal has 29. Montreal is actually tied with Calgary on points, but has one more straight win. With the top seed on the line, I don’t think either team is going to try to rest players, but we might see some players who have been out with injuries back in the line up for at least one game before the Clarkson Cup.

Calgary Inferno @ Brampton Thunder

  • Saturday February 28th, 5:50 PM CDT
  • Sunday March 1st, 1:05 PM CDT Streamed

Like I said above, Calgary’s tied on points but is just behind Montreal. Since it’s a series format and not a round robin this year, these games aren’t going to utterly shake up the series match-ups, but they will have impact. Brampton’s out of the Clarkson Cup race, but Calgary’s beaten them every time they’ve played this season– Brampton might be out to get at least one game on them. Wouldn’t be surprised, however, to see Calgary rest some of their top players. There’s the potential to play four days straight in the Clarkson Cup, and Calgary’s a team that relies on speed, which can be hard to do if you’re dog-tired.

Quick Weekend Recap: Montreal Beats Toronto, Blades Beat Brampton, Toronto locks Clarkson Cup Slot

Sorry for the radio silence! Elena and I have both been taken out by wicked sinus infections at the same time which tends to lead to nothing getting done. 🙂 We’re both (hopefully, knock on wood) finally on the mend though. This roundup is going to be a quick one, however.

Okay, so this past weekend was exciting! The Toronto Furies visited Montreal, where they played the Stars twice. They lost both games, Saturday’s game 1-6, and Sunday’s game 1-5.

The Brampton Thunder visited Boston, and also lost both of their games. Saturday’s game was lost to the Blades 2-6, but Boston shut out Brampton 0-4 on Sunday.

With Brampton’s losses this weekend, Toronto locked the final Clarkson Cup slot! So we now have our four teams- Boston, Montreal, Calgary, and Toronto! We don’t have the final seeding yet, and the top three are currently very close in the standings.

For more in-depth coverage on the Brampton-Boston series this past weekend, check out Zoë’s coverage over at Stanley Cup of Chowder!

A Unique View From The Bench

If you’ve seen a North Dakota women’s hockey game this season, you may or may not have noticed an interesting sight in the tunnel of Ralph Engelstad Arena: one of the team’s backup goaltenders, sitting in a chair facing the ice, huddled over a smartphone.

That goalie, usually redshirt freshman Annie Chipman, isn’t goofing off. She’s giving the 1,600 people who follow head coach Brian Idalski a unique view of the game – her own.

Chipman took over Idalski’s Twitter, @UND_WIH, in December 2014 after a conversation with teammates Lexie Shaw and Lisa Marvin in Marvin’s hospital room. In late November, the sophomore forward’s pickup had stalled on a Grand Forks road, and she was filling it up with gas when a speeding car hit her, resulting in serious injuries to her right arm and knee that may keep her from playing again for a long time. Her teammates visited her to chat and try to take her mind off of her long road to recovery.

“We were all just talking, trying to cheer her up, and we were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we live-tweeted the games for you so you could stay updated?’” Chipman recalled.

Idalski overheard them and decided to give her the reins, allowing her to flood his timeline each gameday with goalie selfies, goal updates, and quirky observations like this one:

It’s an unusual sight to see for some; although the fans at the Ralph have caught on pretty quick, the sight of her on a phone while her teammates play has prompted some questions in visiting arenas.

Misunderstandings aside, both she and her coach say the feedback has been nothing but positive.

“A lot of people are saying how funny it is to follow along,” Chipman said, adding that fans will sometimes follow her tweets during games and wave at her from the stands.

“They make it their own,” Idalski said of his players using his Twitter account. “It’s been entertaining to see them let their personality shine through.”

The fact that UND is enjoying a good season — 16-11-3, 12-9-3-2 in the WCHA and riding a seven-game undefeated streak before losing to Minnesota Feb. 7 – also helps temper some of the concerns others might have about focus.

“If I were 10 years younger, I probably wouldn’t have understood it,” he said. “But I think it’s a credit to these kids’ maturity – they know what they have to do, they work hard, they have fun when it’s time to have fun and focus when it’s time to focus.”

A Twitter veteran compared to most coaches (he joined in 2009 and “embraced Twitter from the word ‘go’”), he also sees social media as way of getting to potential new players. The way Chipman uses it, he said, offers a more personal look at the program, separate from the official @UNDWHockey Twitter.

“Anyone who follows the Twitter gets a good sense of our program with regard to what goes on during game days,” he said. “With recruiting starting earlier and earlier, it’s a good way to get our brand out there.”

Branding has become increasingly important in the Information Age. Everyone is trying to distinguish themselves, and social media is a good way to do that. When it comes to hockey, some teams, like the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings, have used humor to draw in followers and fans. Others have kept it cut-and-dry, posting recaps and highlights, which is serviceable if not distinctive. On both sides, for the most part, social media is seen as separate from the players themselves. So what about blending the two?

“I don’t know if anyone else would do that, really,” Chipman said. “At least not anyone running it now. Some people don’t get it. I think once a newer generation, like ours, comes in, we’ll see more of it.”

Still other organizations, such as most CWHL teams (with the exception of Calgary and possibly Toronto), are still trying to figure out Twitter and other social media platforms. The Inferno recently turned over their account to defenseman Jacquie Pierri, letting her give fans a day-in-the-life account of what players do, but most other teams stick to previews, recaps and promotion of their organizations and the league. Establishing a brand online is a crucial first step toward gaining exposure for these teams, due to the immediacy of the medium, and perhaps focusing more on the player perspective is a way of seeming more approachable to potential fans or even potential players.

UND has certainly achieved a good balance of straight coverage and player perspective, and it’s something Idalski is proud of.

“I don’t want to see other teams do the same thing,” he said. “Just let them keep doing the same boring thing they’re doing, and we’ll keep having fun doing it.”

CWHL Weekend Recap: Boston takes 2/3 over Calgary, Toronto and Brampton split.

Boston Blades @ Calgary Inferno

If this is the preview of the Clarkson Cup Final, oh boy, hold onto your seats! This weekend’s Boston Blades @ Calgary Inferno series was a LOT of fun to watch/listen to. (Remember, Calgary home games have audio streaming even if the game isn’t live streamed by the league!)

Calgary’s been red hot this season (if you’ll pardon the pun 😉 ) but Boston isn’t anything to scoff at either, and they showed it this weekend. Calgary won the first of the three matches this weekend in a tight 3-4 win. Shots were also incredibly close, Boston with 28 and Calgary with 29. Rookie Jordan Smelker was paired up with Brianna Decker, also a rookie for the team, and the two were playing really well together on the blue line, but also contributed all three of the goals for Boston together. (Decker assisted on two of Smelker’s goals, and also put one in unassisted.) Calgary’s goals were more spread out, with Jessica Wong and Rebecca Johnston both getting goals unassisted. The other Calgary goals were scored by Cunningham and Stone. Notably, Aina Takeuchi got her second point on a secondary assist to Stone. The rookie player from Team Japan has played in 6 games for Calgary as a defense, and while she’s not seeing a ton of minutes, it’s great to see a non-North American player in the league and doing well.

Saturday, the game went to a shoot out tied 3-3 until Blake Bolden potted the game winner in the second round of the shoot out. Shots again were pretty close in the entire game, but Boson had the edge– final tally was 37 for Boston, 32 for Calgary. Yet again, Smelker and Decker were instrumental to the goals scored for Boston, assisting on Jillian Dempsey’s second period goal, and with Smelker scoring the first goal in the third. Bolden got the third tying goal on a power play, assisted by Rachel Llanes.

Sunday, it seems like Boston’s other talent started to hit the mark, and the Blades won 4-1 over the Inferno. Monique Lamoureux, who’s been cycling between forward and defense as the team seems to need her, made her first mark on the scoring sheet for this weekend. She picked up the opening goal of the game, assisted by Weber. Buie and Bellamy combined for the second goal short-handed, and Decker picked up the third goal assisted by Dempsey and Lamoureux. While Calgary’s Brittany Esposito managed to score the lone marker for the Inferno unassisted and short-handed, Brianna Decker capped off the game with a fourth goal for Boston unassisted on the power play. Shots this time were tilted a bit more in Boston’s favour– Boston put 38 on Delayne Brian, while Calgary only managed 21 on Ott.

As regards the injuries mentioned in our weekend preview, it looks like Jessica Campbell was on the ice for Calgary– she picked up at least one point this weekend. However, from what I could tell, neither Irwin (Calgary, unknown injury) nor Knight (Boston, something with her leg) were on the ice this weekend. Knight does appear to have the boot off– let’s hope that rehab is going well and we’ll see her on the ice for the Clarkson Cup!

Brampton Thunder & Toronto Furies

So Brampton and Toronto split this weekend, although Toronto picked up a point in Saturday’s game as things went to a shootout. As of the writing of this piece, Toronto has pulled ahead of Brampton very slightly, with 19 points in 22 games. Brampton has 14 points in 20 games, with two games in hand on Toronto. Toronto hasn’t locked fourth place (and entrance to the Clarkson Cup) yet, but it’s gonna take some work for Brampton to get there.

This weekend’s games were, appropriately for a series with such important points on the line, hard-fought and scrappy. Saturday’s game was the closest, ending 3-2 after a shootout. There were 11 penalties in Saturday’s exchange, include 20 & the game for a hit by Meagan Aarts that sent Toronto’s Leah Whittaker into the boards at a bad angle. (It’s called hooking on the game sheet, but it looked like a hit from my angle.) Whittaker was boarded off the ice, and taken to the hospital. According to the Thunder’s twitter, as of Monday she was sore but nothing was broken. There was no news yet as to if she’s be able to join the team in Boston next weekend. Whittaker’s injury took Brampton down from 14 skaters to 13.

The even shorter bench and the even more penalty-ridden play (32 minutes on 16 penalties between the two teams) seemed to have a negative affect on Brampton Sunday when they traveled to play Toronto. Brampton lost 5-2, including a goal scored on a penalty shot by Carolyne Prevost. Aarts was playing this game, so we can assume no suspension for her from Saturday’s game.

In case you were confused, Alyssa Baldin of the Furies was in fact wearing a different number this weekend. No longer wearing her old 5, as of this past weekend, she will be wearing 57 in honour of her father.

Other Notes:

Weekend Preview: Boston Blades @ Calgary Inferno, Brampton Thunder & Toronto Furies fight for 4th spot

We’ve got a full weekend here, as we race toward the end of the season. The Calgary Inferno, the Boston Blades, and the Montreal Stars have all clinched a spot in the Clarkson Cup, but the fourth spot is up in the air between Toronto and Brampton. They play each other this weekend, so expect that to be an interesting match to watch!

Interim Head Coach Scott Reid and Assistant Coach Meaghan Mikkleson-Reid [Calgary Inferno/CWHL]
In other news, the Calgary Inferno, who have been far and away leading the league, have released Kevin Haller, their Head Coach. It’s kind of a surprise, as the team has been doing so well, and they’re looking at the Clarkson Cup so soon. He will be replaced in the interim by former Assistant Coach Scott Reid, and Meaghan Mikkleson-Reid will remain on as Assistant Coach.

[Jess Desjardins/CWHL]
[Jess Desjardins/CWHL]

Boston Blades @ Calgary Inferno

  • Friday February 13th, 2015 at 6:30 PM CDT Streamed
  • Saturday February 14th, 2015 at 6:30 PM CDT
  • Sunday, February 15th, 2015 at 8:00 AM CDT

If we took the seeding for the Clarkson Cup today, Boston would play Montreal, and Calgary play Toronto. This weekend’s series could easily be a Clarkson Cup Final game preview.

It’s also going to be a bit of an injury watch game, I think– Hilary Knight (Boston) was wearing a walking boot pretty recently, and Haley Irwin (Calgary) has missed about a month of games now. Jessica Campbell (Calgary) also missed last week’s games due to injury according to our sources. That’s two of Calgary’s top five points scorers out with injury, so I’ll be really interested in seeing who’s playing this weekend. I only wish the CWHL provided time on ice too.

Of the three games these two teams have played so far, Boston’s won (although by a close margin) two of the three– with two very fast, high octane teams looking to make their mark, this weekend’s games look to be very exciting.

[CWHL]

Toronto Furies @ Brampton Thunder

  • Saturday February 14th, 2015 at 6:30 PM CDT Streamed
  • Sunday February 15th, 2015 at 1:05 PM CDT

Like we said at the top, these two are playing for entrance to the Clarkson Cup. Last year’s Clarkson Cup champion, the Toronto Furies currently have 16 points, while Brampton has 12.

Weekend Preview: Montreal Stars @ Brampton Thunder, Calgary Inferno @ Toronto Furies

There are only four weekends left to play in the regular season for the CWHL! Only 17 games total! It feels so strange to think that this season is winding down, and we’re starting to look forward to the Clarkson Cup, speculating on what teams will get in.

Speaking of the Clarkson Cup, tickets are on sale, and going fast! There are single game and packages available at the CWHL website but be aware! Apparently the single tickets for the March 4th morning game are already sold out.

Also coming up in March is the CWHL Awards Gala, when awards like the Angela James Bowl (which goes to the top scorer in the league) are handed out. If you’re going to be in the Markham area for the Clarkson Cup, maybe check that out too. 🙂 We’re planning to have a preview post up for the awards soon, so keep an eye out for that.

In other news, it looks like the reason Hilary Knight missed last weekend’s games was not illness, as she recently posted a photo of herself in a walking boot to Instagram. Boston doesn’t play again until next weekend, so let’s hope it’s something that heals up quick. Boston’s not going to drop out of Clarkson Cup contention without Knight (knocks on wood) but I’ll be VERY sad if Knight’s not able to play in the Clarkson Cup due to injury.

Montreal Stars @ Brampton Thunder

  • Saturday, February 7th, 5:50 PM CDT Streamed!
  • Sunday, February 8th, 1:05 PM CDT

Brampton’s not that far behind Toronto in the standings, and if they want to pull themselves back into Clarkson Cup contention, they need every point they can get. Montreal and Brampton have played four times so far this season, and Brampton has won once, but we’ll see. Remember, Brampton has a different head coach now, and in the exceedingly limited sample size with Kristi Alcorn at the wheel, they’ve been a much more controlled and puck possession dominant team.

Calgary Inferno @ Toronto Furies

  • Saturday, February 7th, 6:30PM CDT
  • Sunday, February 8th, 12:05 PM CDT Streamed!

Calgary’s top of the standings, and Toronto is a far fourth– if the Furies don’t want Brampton to leapfrog them, they also need to pick up some points. Toronto is currently also looking to snap a six game losing streak.

Speaking of Toronto, check out Kelly Terry in IBC’s new winter tires commercial!

Mid-Week Link Roundup: Shannon Miller’s firing, sexism in sport, and #GrowingTheGame

Shannon Miller’s Firing

Myers’s piece is especially disingenuous because he treats men’s and women’s hockey like equal things when they’re not. Do you know why a men’s coach might have a different reaction to being fired than a women’s coach? Because those firings mean completely different things in those separate worlds.

  • Angelica, who occasionally writes for this blog, covered the firing and the possibly discriminatory nature for Hockey Wilderness as well.

Sexism in Sports!

[I] realized that, outside of TV sideline reporters, I couldn’t name one prominent female sports journalist other than Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post (who has been profiled in Quill’s “Ten” feature). Is it a pipeline problem? Are women really not interested in going into this field? Is the field inhospitable now, in 2015?

  • As women’s hockey fans, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the phenomenon where, when women’s hockey has commentary, it’s more often than not commentary on what all these amazingly talented women’s brothers are doing in the NHL/college hockey/etc. (Thank you CWHL announcing, which for the vast majority of the time manages to avoid this!) A similar phenomenon is how different the kind of questions women athletes are asked compared to their male counterparts. Derrick Clifton wrote a piece for mic.com about how absurd it would sound if male athletes were asked the same question as women. I wasn’t unfamiliar with this, and his piece was still incredibly striking.
    [Derrick Clifton/mic.com]
    [Derrick Clifton/mic.com] Not an unfamilar question to women’s hockey fans, right?

 

Beanpot!

CWHL Videos!

A couple nice videos to send you on your way after wading through all that sexism stuff!