Lesser Known Players to Watch in the 2015 Women’s World Championship

We know you’ll have your eyes on what Hilary Knight and Marie Philip Poulin do in the Women’s World Championships – you don’t need us to tell you they’re the players to watch.  But who should you be looking for when Japan and Switzerland close out the first round of games on Tuesday?

Like the B side of an album, there’s lesser-known talent aplenty to be found on these rosters. As well as tons of players that are spending their college careers in the US, meaning you might find a new favorite player that you can watch on the regular.

Let’s start with

Team USA:

Annie Pankowski was the Rookie of the Year in NCAA women’s hockey. She led the Wisconsin Badgers in goals and points as a freshman, scoring 42 points in 38 games (20g, 22a). The Badgers made it to the national semi-final this season. Pankowski looked to be finding a new level as the season wound down – she scored two goals in her team’s NCAA quarterfinal win over Poulin’s Boston University Terriers, including a breakaway two minutes into the game that included this nasty stickwork.

Alex Carpenter absolutely owned the NCAA this season, scoring 37 goals and adding 44 assists on the season and averaging 2.19 points per game. She won the Patty Kazmaier Award for her efforts.

The next highest scorer, seven points behind Carpenter was Hannah Brandt. Brandt will be a great addition to the already potent US offense. She has a knack for finding the loose pucks and making big plays when her team needs them most. Brandt was a Patty Kaz top ten finalist her freshman year and a top three finalist the next two years. She’s only a junior. She’s joined by Minnesota teammate Dani Cameranesi. The linemates combined for 139 points this season. They know each other well and if they’re paired together in Malmö, other teams should be very, very concerned.

One more thing to watch – how Monique Lamoureux does on defense. She transitioned before Sochi and it didn’t go particularly well there for her. She has a tendency to float forward yet. The coaching strategy didn’t compensate for her and she was caught out of position and with no teammates covering for her more than a few times. She did seem more comfortable and less lost with the Boston Blades this season, so it’ll be important to see if the system will now accommodate for her or if she’s tamed her wandering tendencies.

Team Canada:

The goalie situation will be of interest for Team Canada. Only Genvieve Lacasse was on their roster for Sochi, so they’re bringing two young but very talented goalies to Sweden.

Emerance Maschmeyer from Havard had a great showing in this year’s Frozen Four. She’s grown considerably from the prior year, when she was a Patty Kaz top ten finalist. The confidence she gained from taking her team to the national championship was clear and she’ll be riding that swagger into Malmö.

Ann-Renée Desbiens is Canada’s third goalie but WCHA fans know she’s a force in the net. She tied for 1st in the country with a 94.1 save percentage and was second with her 1.15 GAA. She won the WCHA goaltending title as a rookie last year. Desbiens allowed just five power plays goals all season and tied Jessie Vetter for a Wisconsin school record 14 shutouts on the year. With Desbiens, you get a little more reckless play – she’s not afraid to leave the net – which is both a blessing and a curse. She’ll raise your blood pressure but make many more amazing saves then allow small mistakes with her style of play. Wisconsin has a strong goaltending legacy at this point (three Badger goalies are on WWC rosters in 2015) and Desbiens is living up to the pressure and expectations.

Team Finland:

With Noora Räty out with an injury, Finland has a lot to make up for in net. Eveliina Suonpää is listed as the number two goalie for Finland. She was a surprise pick for their third spot in Sochi. She was a late enrollee at the University of Minnesota-Duluth this season, joining the Bulldogs after the new year. She played in just part of one game this season. While Michele Karvinen is the more recognizable Fin that played her college years at North Dakota, Susanna Tapani was also in Grand Forks for a season. She did not return to the ice for NoDak this season, but she’s a great compliment to Karvinen and those two will need to step up their team’s offense in order to take some pressure off their defense. Räty has been the glue that’s kept this team together and relevant for a while and every one on Team Finland has to step up to make up for her missing presence.

Team Germany:

Apparently world-class talent runs in the Eisenschmid family. Tanja is a junior at North Dakota and now sister Nicola joins her on Team Germany. Their brother Markus recently played for German’s U-18 men’s team.

Marie Delarbre is third year player at Merrimack University, where she transferred from Minnesota-Duluth. Anna-Marie Fiegert is a sophomore at Minnesota State-Mankato. The defenseman has four assists for the Mavericks each of the last two seasons.

Team Switzerland:

It seems impossible to me, because my love for her is far-reaching, but it came to my attention recently that there are women’s hockey fans unfamiliar with Florence Schelling. If that is the case, please fix that – now. I both want to be best friends with her and kind of have a crush on her.

[Thuner Tagblatt]
[Thuner Tagblatt]
9487568
[Calgary Herald]
 

Schelling and her Swiss teammates were the surprise of Sochi, winning the bronze medal. She was also the goalie you likely saw getting pushed around on a cart. Schelling plays in a men’s league at home in Switzerland, though she did spend a year in Brampton in the CWHL. She played her college puck at Northeastern University. Based on the amount of press stuff she posts on her FB (which she posts in three languages because she’s fabulous), she’s quite well-known and recognized.

Switzerland was down 2-0 to Sweden in the third period in the Bronze Medal game in Sochi. Phoebe scored Switzerland’s second goal. This is her fourth IIHF WWC for Switzerland. She was second on the Yale Bulldogs in scoring and assists and halfway through her career has 50 points.

Lara Stalder has had two prolific years at Minnesota-Duluth. As a freshman, she was fourth among all rookies with 22 points. This season she finished with 29 points (10g, 19a). Stalder is a physical player that spends some time in the penalty box, so she will need to be careful, especially with the new referee system, to keep herself clean and on the ice for her team. She also had an assist on Switzerland’s bronze-medal winning goal. Check out the highlights on YouTube— sorry, we can’t embed this video.

Team Sweden

Erica Uden Johansson is older than your standard college player, but the 25-year old brought extensive international experience to Quinnipiac University. A veteran of both Vancouver and Sochi, this will be her third IIHF WWC.

In her career at Quinnipiac, Uden Johansson had 96 points (42g, 54 a). She is one of two Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey players to record at least 40 goals and 40 assists in her career (Kelly Babstock). She ranks third in Bobcat program history in both goals and assists.

If you didn’t watch the full Bronze Medal highlights, here’s a snipe from Uden Johansson:

While Switzerland came from behind to win the bronze medal, making them darlings for a bit, the hands-down fan favorite team in Sochi was Team Japan. Playing in their first Olympics since they got an auto-entry when they hosted in Nagano in 1998, the Japanese team were spectacular at embodying the “happy to be here” spirit of the Olympics. They spent their open practice time taking pics of each other and posting them online.

They scored just a single goal, but it was a beauty and also came complete with a spectacular celly.

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Japan is playing in its first WWC in the top tier. The IIHF has many different divisions for the various levels of women’s hockey and they use a promotion/relegation system similar to European soccer. Japan won the 1A division and find themselves among familiar talent a year after Sochi.

The Japanese played Russia to a very close 2-1 game and gave Sweden a tough time. The key to their game is the stellar play of goalie Nana Fujimoto. She was saving 95% of shots she faced through their first two games at the Olympics and many of those were during odd-man rushes.

Of note, former Wisconsin Badger Carla McLeod is an assistant coach with Japan. She was responsible for bringing her team to the US prior to Sochi for some training games. Japan was severly out-scored by teams like Wisconsin and Minnesota, but the trip and chance to play top talent is crucial for international teams and it’s a good precedent to set. Team Japan had won themselves some cult status in their homeland when they were the first of any other of their countrymen to qualify for Sochi.

Can you tell I have a soft spot for these ladies?

Four Celebrities I Would Kill To See At NWHL Games

Let’s talk about a crucial issue facing our society today: WHAT EXCELLENT CELEBS WILL ATTEND NWHL GAMES??? Probably none of them in reality, but this is a blog post, so here’s my dream lineup.

THE NEW YORK RIVETERS: TAYLOR SWIFT

Taylor Swift lives in NYC, a fact well illustrated by her recent hit, “Welcome To New York.” Who better to sit at the sidelines, wearing red lipstick so bright it outshines the light of Satan himself, explaining the finer points of hockey to Karlie Kloss? Literally no one. I know NHL people think she’s a curse, but probably that’s just for men’s hockey. She is a leading misandrist of our time; just listen to Blank Space and tell me I’m wrong.

Jeff Skinner of the Caroline Hurricanes gave Taylor Swift one of his jerseys. [Puck Daddy]
Jeff Skinner of the Caroline Hurricanes gave Taylor Swift one of his jerseys. [Puck Daddy]
Also, her lyrics about women’s hockey would be wonderful. JUST IMAGINE: “Schelling sat in goal/The night that we grew cold/The Beauts were all shut out/And the cheers from the crowd/Hid/MY BROKEN HEAAAART”.

It’s practically destiny.

THE BUFFALO BEAUTS: RETTA

Retta in an NHL Stadium series hat and hoodie. [Twitter]
Retta in an NHL Stadium series hat and hoodie. [Twitter]
Retta already likes hockey, so that part of the battle is won. Retta is also legitimately famous and cool, and thus could withstand the OVERWHELMING hockey-bro lameness that is the Beauts’ name. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but lesser celebs would crumble under the weight of it, and instantly become scraggly-haired microbrew-sporting whiners who think ESPN should be all NHL, all the time. Retta will ELEVATE the Beauts. Also, Buffalo is right by Niagara and there’s booze there, right? And Retta enjoys partying with NHL players. Buffao should recruit Poulin and then she and Retta can go drinking, and probably world peace and the restoration of at least 3 extinct species will result. Foolproof!

THE CONNECTICUT WHALE: ELLEN PAGE

Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard at a LA Kings game. [PopSugar]
Ellen Page is a lez and you know I need one of my own rooting for the NWHL. Also, Ellen Page has SOLID indie appeal, and the Whale are already clearly angling for the kind of audience that loathes relocated franchises and Budweiser and any band that doesn’t have at least 2 acoustic EPs. She can bring ASkars, like she apparently did to LA Kings games. Basically all I know about ASkars is that he wasn’t allowed to party with the rest of the Generation Kill cast because he kept trying to fight people about soccer, which leads me to think he’d be GREAT at supporting hockey. Plus he’s Swedish and could probably start a riot because people thought he was Nick Lidstrom. It’s a package deal and it will instantly make the Whale the best Whale-colors-or-logo having team in the greater New England area.

THE BOSTON PRIDE: SYDNEY LEROUX

“Wow Elena,” you might be saying, “this is kind of a loaded choice, given that the only city the NWHL is putting a team in that competes with the CWHL is Boston, former home of Boston-Breaker-turned-Seattle-Reign player Sydney Leroux, who once made every single human being in Canada cry tears of bitter abandonment because she chose to play for the US Women’s National Team and win things and be among luminaries of our time like American Hero Abby Wambach, rather than play with several maple trees and Christine Sinclair on the CANWNT.”

To which I reply, are you accusing me of making jokes about Canada? I would never! Also, you forgot about Noted Head-Stomper Christine Tancredi.

Sydney Leroux celebrated a goal against Canada by kissing the badge on her jersey and hushing the booing crowd. [National Post]
Sydney Leroux celebrated a goal against Canada by kissing the badge on her jersey and hushing the booing crowd. [National Post]
But seriously, nationalism aside, Sydney Leroux used to play in Boston! And she’s spoken to Hilary Knight AT LEAST ONCE (MAYBE TWICE????) so that means she’s a huge hockey fan, right? RIGHT!


Please root for the Pride, Sydney Leroux. Also please win the Women’s World Cup this year, thanks a million.

WOMEN’S WORLDS START TOMORROW! LEARN STUFF ABOUT IT!

Hi guys! We’ve got a preview of our own coming soon, but due to some things (cough starting a new job cough cough) it’s going to be a little delayed. So, while you’re waiting for the games to start and trying desperately to find a hook up to somehow watch the games (HELLO FELLOW AMERICANS AND OTHER NON-CANADIANS), or settling in to watch them with some friends (SSSSS CANADIANS), here’s some articles to take a gander at!

“The “four-men system” with games officiated with two referees and two linesmen has been extended to the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Malmo, Sweden, which will be the first IIHF women’s tournament with four officials calling each game following successful tests in July at the 2014 IIHF Women’s High Performance Camp.”

IIHF Press Release

  • GUYS THIS REFEREE THING IS SUPER EXCITING! One of the issues that’s always been present in international tournaments but is especially important for the women is that different leagues and levels have different “standards” (even if the standard is implicit and not explicit) for what is acceptable body contact, etc. The sheer speed of the women’s game, too, has provided some issues with getting games called correctly. Hopefully going to a two referee system will provide some more standardization for the Worlds this year, and hopefuly going forward to the Olympics.
  • Zoe has a post up over at NHL Numbers previewing Women’s Worlds with an emphasis on players to watch.
  • Angelica has a post up at Hockey Wilderness that looks at Team USA a bit more closely.
  • There’s an article up by Donna Spencer over at the Globe and Mail about Iya Gavrilov, the first non-Canadian to earn the Brodrick Trophy as the top female hockey player in the CIS, who hopes to help lead the Russian team to more prominence post-Sochi.
  • There’s a quick piece from Boston University about Marie-Philip Poulin being named as Canada’s captain at Women’s Worlds.
  • Notably for Calgary Inferno fans, it looks like Aina Takeuchi is not on the Team Japan roster. The defense, who played this last season as a fourth liner for the Calgary Inferno, was on the 2014 Sochi Olympics roster for Japan. She had 4 points in 8 games with Calgary, and had one assist for Team Japan in 5 games at Sochi. This is the first time since 2009 that Team Japan will be at Worlds in the top division for Worlds.

 

NWHL: I Guess We Need A Blog Post About This

Let’s begin this by getting people up to speed on the National Women’s Hockey League/NWHL if they aren’t already. Zoë Hayden has a roundup of links here, along with some valuable commentary.

My first reaction to the NWHL was suspicion. What can I say? I’ve been burned before, especially with women’s sports. Minor and women’s sports leagues are a magnent for hucksters – people who have a plan or a dream that may or may not have ideological purity, but definitely doesn’t have a solid financial plan beneath it. It want to say that upfront because I’m not in this to be a Debbie Downer; it’s just that I also have been through the cycle of elation and dissolution before, as a fan.

I’d like to see the NWHL succeed. I think they’re already outpacing the CWHL in terms of monetary plans and goals, in part because they seem to be approaching building a league from a model grounded more in minor-league business practices than collective-funding business practices, like the NWSL or the WNBA has utilized. The NWSL and WNBA, though their funding comes from different sources, are both under the auspices of larger organizations (national teams and the NBA, respectively), and that grants them the kind of geographic range that the CWHL has attempted, while having nowhere near the level of support from hockey organizations.

But as much as I hope the NWHL will create competition and force the CWHL to also be better, I have some concerns. Rylan’s five-year plan sounds interesting, but launching in the fall with 20% of funding secured now doesn’t seem that much different from the CWHL’s whole “we’ll pay players eventually” bit – though obviously in the US, rather than Canada-and-Boston. Additionally, the NWHL’s social media presence & media availability – both key to running a modern sports league at pretty much any level – does not yet look particularly good. The logos are good, but it remains to be seen if good logos and smart marketing can overcome the reality of a swamped region with tons of teams in varying sports at varying skill levels. X-Files style, I want to believe, but that doesn’t always translate into a league actually working.

Anyway, I’d like to see the NWHL go far, and hopefully eventually absorb or be absorbed by the CWHL. I think it’s easy for people to forget that tons of leagues in North America have started up and failed and merged with one another in the history of men’s sports. Major league sports was not always a “succeed right away or be forever jeered at” kind of venture, and the expectation that women’s leagues be out-of-the-gate on a level, funding- and publicity-wise, with men’s leagues, is wildly unrealistic. Starting small and regional is smart.

(An aside: I’ve seen a lot of “this is so discourteous and disrespectful!” stuff re: the NWHL forming with a team in Boston. The Blades’ relationship with the CWHL as a whole is less than rosy right now. They do not get even their equipment covered 100%, as far as anyone can tell. The CWHL has shown a distinct lack of interest in expanding in the US or even providing equitable funding and treatment for the Blades, so I don’t think the NWHL – or Blades players – owe them much of anything as far as respectfully abstaining from Boston competition. We’ll see what happens with the Blades, but either way, I don’t think women’s sports leagues need to be held to a different standard of competition and capitalism than the rest of the world.)

NOW, A WISH LIST:

  • Please, NWHL, market fun hockey. Market a good atmosphere. Do not do the CWHL’s route of charity-project, role-models, love-of-the-game stuff. There is nothing wrong with being role models, but emphasis on the games being a fun time would also be nice. Hockey is fun, watching it is fun, please approach selling your product from this angle.
  • I’d like to see some kind of minimum salary. If it’s not feasible right away, it should be part of the five-year plan. It’s massively unequitable to just say “players can negotiate their own salaries”, for obvious reasons; Hilary Knight’s agent is probably better at negotitation than a less well known player’s.
  • Please make merch readily available. Recruit people who know what The Youth want to wear & carry. Sell it on accessible websites with cheap shipping. Sports merch from lesser-known teams is absolutely a status symbol among young hockey fans. Take advantage of this.
  • SIGN MARIE-PHILIP POULIN TO PLAY IN BOSTON THIS IS A REASONABLE REQUEST
  • Poach Florence Schelling. Do it!
  • Don’t collapse in 5 years due to bad marketing and infighting and a general inability and unwillingness to be creative in business models and draw from other minor leagues’ experiences

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll think of others. In the meantime, I’m gonna slink back into my cube with my eyes to the sky. I WANT TO BELIEVE.

Dear USA Hockey: What’s The Deal With Women’s Worlds?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but USA Hockey is run by a barrel of baby monkeys, right? Ha ha, jokes! It’s clearly a barrel of confused human babies.

No, but seriously. Why isn’t Women’s Worlds being televised? The IIHF’s everything with women’s hockey has been baffling for a long time, I’ll grant you that. Their website design is subpar and finding any info on syndication of women’s games and so on is incredibly difficult. But that’s a gripe that’s pretty common with most women’s sports; there’s not nearly the incentive to sink money and time into making information readily accessible. Women’s sports are undervalued, blah blah. That’s not new. USA Hockey waffling so thoroughly on women’s games might also not be exactly new, but the Women’s U-18 games were streamed by USA Hockey, and Canada is televising games – and has been advertising that they’re televising them, even! So again: what’s the deal?

I understand that sports in general and hockey in particular loves being closed-mouthed like nobody’s business, but boy would some communication be good on this. In no small part because right now I’m left with some questions, such as:

  • Is USA Hockey aware that Women’s World’s is one of the only plus-18 international competitions that Americans can be remotely relied upon to win? Sure, referring to a national team as being reliable in that context is kind of messed up, but let’s be honest: USA Hockey wants to be Hockey Canada, with all the almost-monopoly over gold medals that that implies. Lack of competition sucks for the losers, but it only hurts the winners in the very long run. So, with that being established, why wouldn’t you at least stream – if not televise – games? At the very least, you’re not then sending talented girls who might get into hockey the unequivocal message of “no one cares and you should probably play a sport more people care about, like soccer or basketball”.
  • Is investment in women’s hockey at all a priority for USA Hockey? I know we talk about the CWHL a lot, but that’s really only part of the development puzzle. Women’s Worlds has been streamed in the past; is this new lack of streaming an indication that USA Hockey is going to step away from supporting their fastest-growing segment of players? I’ve met basically no one who had any hand in the public side of a business who thought that decisions about when and how to publicize their product didn’t affect the business, so again, I have to ask: is this the first step in removing investment from the women’s game? I’d be honestly surprised if it were – I personally think someone just dropped the ball – but by not saying a word about why they’re not streaming the games, USA Hockey is almost guaranteeing people are going to be wondering if they’re moving in a different direction.
  • Who is pancaking on this, USA Hockey? Why did a blogger (thanks, @gabfun) announce that the games wouldn’t be streamed instead of, I don’t know, an intern posting to an official twitter? This is a gripe I have at my inglorious office job as well as in the blogging world, so I get that this isn’t a USA Hockey-specific problem, but it’s just not that hard to put a line of text on the internet, almost anywhere on the internet, saying whether or not games will be accessible and if so, where to stream them. Women’s sports fans are decent at Google, okay? We kind of have to be. So throw us a bone.

The only thing I can think of is that there’s some kind of dispute that has led to USA Hockey publicizing NCAA women’s hockey on their Twitter, but not a tournament they’re directly involved in. But if that’s the case, then again, where are the professionals communicating access to fans in a way that doesn’t signal that something’s up?

My impression of hockey culture in general is that the overall culture is very do-it-yourself, rah-rah-pond-hockey. That culture, when applied to women’s hockey – a subset of the sport that very much does need support without the guarantee of profit the considerably older NHL carries – can be difficult to navigate. I might disagree with the CWHL not openly calling for volunteers and organizing and utilizing the talent of their fans, but I at least understand some of the rationale behind it. But I do not understand, at all, USA Hockey being so totally close-mouthed about Women’s Worlds. I have a FastHockey account specifically because I wanted to watch the tournament two years ago. Not saying anything and acting like no one’s paying attention to the tournament, when players are talking about it on Twitter and people like me want to watch them play, comes across as flat-out disrespectful.

All of us are aware that women’s hockey is not the most profitable business venture in the world. But either USA Hockey should commit to their players, and their product, and give what fans there are info – or they should own up to their comprehensive lack of interest in female players. It’s ten kinds of annoying to be presented with such a fundamental lack of information about one of the biggest tournaments for women’s hockey in the world. To be blunt and slightly NSFW: quit dicking us around, USA Hockey.

How and When to Watch the 2015 Women’s Worlds

Boston’s won the Clarkson Cup, the Minnesota Golden Gophers won their third NCAA Championship in four years, and we’ve barely got a moment to pause for breath before the 2015 Women’s World Championship starts! Players have reported to their pre-tournament camps already, as the first game of the championship starts on March 28th, this SATURDAY, in Malmö, Sweden.

The official video for the 2015 Women’s World Championship

You can check out the complete schedule at the IIHF’s website. USA Hockey has the U.S. schedule and results on their website, while Hockey Canada has the complete schedule in a slightly more readable format up on theirs. (As a sad American, I find the GMT times on the IIHF website deeply confusing.)

[table id=15 /]

The preliminary round starts on Saturday, and goes until Tuesday, March 31st. The regulation round is played along side the playoff round, April 1st-4th, culminating in the gold medal game on Saturday, April 4th. Remember, as an IIHF tournament, the outcome of this tournament plays into the seeding for the 2016 Olympics.

As for how to watch these games, that’s a bit more complicated. Hockey Canada has a live game update page for every game, not just Canada games, available off their schedule page. In the past, select games were streamed and available on FastHockey and we’re trying to hunt down if that will still be true this year. Canadians, you’re a bit more in luck, as it appears that TSN will be showing on television all of Canada’s games, as well as the medal games.

We’ll update this post as we know more, and we’ll always post it on Twitter, too.

CWHL T-Shirt Sizing: Ladies’, tri-blend, unisex, what???

So, with the CWHL’s end of season blow out sale going on, we’ve seen some confusion about sizing! Erin was kind enough to forward some information she got from some emails with the CWHL about sizing to us, so hopefully this will help answer your questions! (But, sadly, not “WHY IS IT SO EXPENSIVE TO SHIP OUTSIDE CANADA???”)

Most of Erin’s questions were about the t-shirt sizing, of which the CWHL sells two main cuts– the unisex, and a ladies’ cut. The ladies cut appears slimmer. To add more confusion, some of the ladies tees are made of cotton, while others, mostly those that are distressed, are a tri-blend.  It turns out, the tri-blend tees are 5.7-oz, 50/25/25 polyester/cotton/rayon, and while they’re the same cut as the 100% cotton ladies shirts, they tend to cling or hang more. Here is a .pdf file with the size chart for the ladies’ short sleeve shirts.

As for the unisex sized shirts, those are a bit more straight forward:

CWHL-TEEALL-sizeChart

 

Go forth and buy some CWHL gear!

Three Extremely Unbiased Ads The Canadiens Should Produce With Their New Partners, The Montreal Stars

It’s Friday! Friday is great. I’m not thinking on this beautiful Friday. I could talk about how the Habs could easily throw a concrete amount of money the Stars’ way, and I could talk about the issues with team-specific investment rather than league-wide investment, but IT’S FRIDAY AND I DON’T WANNA.

So instead, here are some ads I want to see:

ONE

[The camera pans in on PK Subban. He looks both beautiful and distressed.]
PK Subban: No! Wouldn’t you rather have another Subban jersey?
Tiny Child (Played By Time Traveling Abigail Breslin): JULIE CHU’S HAIR IS LUMINOUS AND HER EYES SPEAK SONNETS OF WOMEN’S HOCKEY. GIVE ME HER JERSEY THAT I MIGHT LIVE THE DREAM OF FAILING TO WIN GOLD AT FOUR CONSECUTIVE OLYMPICS, AND CRYING, AND BREAKING THE HEART OF STALWART AMERICANS EVERYWHERE.
PK Subban: Yikes. Are you sure you don’t want an Ouellette jersey? She’s an Olympian. A Canadian one.
Tiny Child: JULIE CHU OR I RIOT IN THE GRAND QUEBEC TRADITION.
PK Subban: [passes over a Julie Chu jersey]
A Sad Country Song: [plays over video of Team USA crying]

TWO*

Julie Chu, in a salmon-pink shirt with the collar popped, khaki shorts with anchors on them, and boat shoes: Connecticut is a great place.
Max Pacioretty, in a salmon-pink shirt with the collar popped, khaki shorts with anchors on them, and boat shoes: Agreed.
[they high-five as video of eagles soaring fades onto the screen]

*shoutout to @boldmatter on twitter for the entirety of this joke

THREE

Marie-Philip Poulin: I’m committing to the Montreal Stars for a season and the Canadiens are paying me an NHL salary. Additionally, out of respect for team veteran Julie Chu, I will be abstaining from the next Olympics.
[Flash forward to 2018. Julie Chu, gray streaking her hair, scores the gold-medal-winning goal. Her teammates surround her as she cries with joy. Pope Francis names her a saint. Every child born in the US that year is named Julie. Julie Chu becomes the next President. For fifty years, every planet discovered by NASA is named after her. Julie Chu statues are erected in front of every hockey arena in the country. THE PEOPLE REJOICE.]

THE END.

Link Round-up: The CWHL and the NHL

That’s a pretty small selection of the articles and tweets that I’ve seen flying around. I’m not really sure yet where I stand on this, for a couple different reasons.

First is, I know there are a lot of new fans of women’s hockey/the CWHL this season, specifically drawn in by the Clarkson Cup, and they’re all running smack into the unfairness that is the current state of the league. (We did this too, when we started following the CWHL more closely!) But this conversation around the CWHL and the NHL has been going on for a while, and previous iterations of it is why we have the limited partnerships between the Stars and the Canadians, the Furies and the Maple Leafs, the Inferno and the Flames, etc. So, while it’s not an unimportant conversation to have, I’d like to see a little less ‘but WHY ISN’T ANYTHING BEING DONE’. Maybe the cry needs to be “MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE”, but there is a history here already, too. It can be hard to find as the news coverage of women’s hockey has traditionally waned and waxed with the Winter Olympics, however.

Secondly, I see a lot of aggressive moralizing around this topic. Which, yeah, the argument to be made about why the NHL should support the CWHL isn’t purely a financial one, although I believe there’s a financial argument to be made. But taking a scolding tone, attempting to shame people into becoming fans of a thing, that never works. You’ll get more fans by talking about how awesome a thing is, not how morally correct supporting it is.

Finally, and most annoying to me, most of the arguments I see for why the NHL should partner with the CWHL include as an often unspoken matter of fact that NHL hockey is the best hockey. Partnering with the NHL would provide the manly stamp of approval for the CWHL, as NHL hockey is the best hockey, and guys, I’m just not that into the CWHL needing the validation of a pretty flawed league with few stakes in their success. The CWHL is great hockey, full stop. It’s an entertaining experience, full stop. It doesn’t need the NHL to prove that. Yes, there are resources the NHL has that could help the CWHL– but the NHL is not the only source of those resources, and may not be the best one to provide that for the league’s future growth. Why am I not seeing more calls for a closer partnership with the Hockey Canada and USA Hockey a la the NWSL and the various soccer federations they have partnered with? We want to grow the game so it’s not just USA and Canada as the main event every four years, right? Why not work more with the non-North American hockey organizations to make the CWHL a place for their players to develop past college? It was Janine Weber, an Austrian player, who scored that OT goal for the Blades to win the Clarkson Cup, and she’s been a really solid contributor all season.

Gotta say, though, I love the idea of Stars v. Blades precursor to the NHL Winter Classic in Boston next year. 🙂

2015 CWHL Awards

The 2015 CWHL Awards winners are as follows:

Humanitarian Award: Lois Mitchell

On the Board of Directors as a Governor, Mitchell is currently the Senior Partner of Rainmaker Global Business Development, which connects companies with business opportunities around the world. She is also on the board of several other organizations, including, variously, UBS Bank (Canada), Mitacs, and the Hockey Canada Foundation.

Probably more relevant to her receipt of the CWHL’s Humanitarian Award, she currently co-chairs the Gold Medal Plates dinner in Calgary in support of current and aspiring Canadian Olympians, as well as co-chairs the True Patriot Love dinner in support of the Canadian Military. She’s also variously involved in philanthropic efforts for post-secondary institutions, the Special Olympics Canada Foundation, a former chair of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and a past board chair of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

Coach of the Year: Dany Brunet

In his second season as head coach of the Montreal Stars, Dany Brunet took the team to a regular season 14-9-1 record, and 2-0-1 in the 2015 Clarkson Cup.

Rookie of the Year: Brianna Decker

This Boston Blades forward scored 32 points in her rookie year, and it’s even more impressive when you realize those points were in only 12 games. She first put on a Boston jersey for a game in mid-January, slotting into an already established team and excelling.

Goaltender of the Year: Charline Labonté

There’s no confusion here this year! The Montreal Stars goaltender finished top of the league in the regular season with a .927 save percentage, and second to Boston’s Lacasse with a 1.89 goals against average. (Labonté also played more games than Lacasse.)

Defenceman of the Year: Tara Watchorn

This Boston Blades defender had 20 points in 21 game, and was a solid presence on the blue line for the team.

Angela James Bowl: Rebecca Johnston

As we noted in the preview, the Calgary Inferno forward had 37 points in 24 games, 17 goals and 20 assists. This is her first season with the Inferno– she was acquired by Calgary from Toronto before the beginning of the season. Although no offensive slouch while with Toronto, her numbers vastly improved with Calgary this season. With Team Canada last season, she had two goals and three assists in Sochi, in five games. While with Toronto in the 12/13 season, she had 8 goals, 17 assists in 24 games.

Most Valuable Player: Rebecca Johnston

See above.  🙂 More seriously, Calgary’s massively improved their offense this year, and while Johnston has been a key contributor to that, she’s also helped to develop and shape the offensive style and play of the team overall.

Chairman’s trophy: Boston Blades

The regular season champion, the Blades had 35 points in a 24 game season, going 17-6-1 in the season. Notably, two of those loses were loses due to a labor dispute, not actual games played.