Weekly News: Outdoor Women’s Classic, CWHL resumes play

Outdoor Women’s Classic

  • As you’ve probably seen, the NHL announced that they would be hosting an Outdoor Women’s Classic, where the CWHL’s Les Canadiennes will play most of the NWHL’s Boston Pride, their roster supplemented with other NWHL players to take the place of players with national team commitments.
  • If you’re going, please note that the women’s classic is not a separately ticketed event– you have to have a ticket to the NHL Alumni game to get in.
  • If you were hoping to watch the Outdoor Women’s Classic from your own home, you’re probably going to be out of luck. According to Jen Neale of Puck Daddy, this event is not planned to be streamed or televised. There have been a couple reasons proffered– visuals, like Neale cites, too short a time-line to get rights issues/other complicating factors sorted out, and, what looks like it could be a continuing issue, the need to possibly cancel the Women’s Classic to preserve ice conditions for the NHL Winter Classic itself.
  • Jen Neale talked further about the NHL’s involvement with women’s hockey with Susan Cohig. Cohig talked pretty extensively about how the NHL hopes to grow women’s hockey at a grassroots level, and focuses on getting girls into hockey. This is a great thing, but it’s also something that I find incomplete. Girls won’t stay in hockey if there isn’t a place to play after college, and focusing on getting girls into hockey without also focusing on the need for a paid league to work in as an adult is short-sighted. However, that’s an article for another day. 🙂
  • Elliotte Friedman prefaced his 30 Thoughts piece on the NHL with a bit about the Outdoor Women’s Classic, and I thought it was worth reading.

Come Thursday, we’ll all enjoy the spectacle, appreciate that it happened, and move on. But, what everyone involved needs to do is start next year’s process right away. The outdoor game will kick off the NHL’s 100th anniversary season. … The [CWHL and NWHL] have to be a part of that, as it’s going to be a huge event.
Make sure your best players can be there.

NWHL

The NWHL is playing this weekend!

Schedule:

  • The Buffalo Beauts @ the Boston Pride on Sunday, January 3rd, 2016 at 3:00 PM ET in the Harvard Bright-Landry Center
  • The Connecticut Whale @ the NY Riveters on Sunday, January 3rd, 2016 at 7:00 PM ET in the Aviator Sports Center

Other NWHL News:

  • In case you haven’t been following it, Sean Tierney has been making some cool visualizations out of the NWHL advanced stats that Carolyn Wilke has been pulling togeather. Check out his latest!
  • As you probably saw, the Connecticut Whale GM, Harry Rosenholtz, resigned right before Christmas. Kate Cimini talked a bit about what’s going on there now, and how this loss has impacted the Whale, who lost their first game this past weekend.

CWHL

The CWHL resumes play this weekend, after breaking for the holidays!

Schedule:

  • Brampton Thunder @ Toronto Furies on Saturday, January 2nd, at 2:00 PM ET in the Mastercard Center
  • Toronto Furies @ Brampton Thunder on Sunday, January 3rd, at 1:30 PM ET in the Memorial Arena This Game Will Be Streamed
  • Boston Blades @ Les Canadiennes on Saturday, January 2nd, at 5:30 PM ET in the Bell Sports Complex This Game Will Be Streamed
  • Boston Blades @ Les Canadiennes on Sunday, January 3rd, at 1:30 PM ET in the Bell Sports Complex

Other CWHL News:

New York Riveters Roll Over the Buffalo Beauts, 7-3

The miserable weather in the Buffalo area Sunday afternoon perfectly mirrored the outcome at HarborCenter, as the New York Riveters rolled over the Buffalo Beauts, 7-3. Meghan Fardelmann scored a hat trick, and Janine Weber and Lyudmila Belyakova scored two apiece, while Nana Fujimoto made 32 saves.

Buffalo iced just 12 skaters against the Riveters, as those with commitments to Team USA — Emily Pfalzer, Meghan Duggan, and Megan Bozek — were at evaluation camp for the Women’s World Championship. Shelby Bram was also away due to playing with Team Canada at the Nations Cup in Europe, while Kelly McDonald sat out for reasons unconfirmed (but potentially injury-related).

Head coach Shelley Looney also had to juggle her lines as a result, placing three forwards — Jessica Fickel, practice forward Annmarie Cellino, and Tatiana Rafter — on the blueline. While they did as well as they could have, jumping into play and moving the puck well in transition, there were momentary lapses in play where New York was able to thread through both defenders and score quickly, illustrating just how important both Bozek and Pfalzer are to this Beauts squad.

“We had [Lindsay] Grigg and Paige Harrington, our two D, running every other shift, and the three forwards basically rotating through that second slot,” Cellino said. “I noticed my legs were pretty much gone at about 10 minutes into the second period. Once you got that rest in the intermission, that was huge.”

The first period was relatively tame, unless you count the shower of stuffed animals from the stands after Buffalo scored its first goal for the Teddy Bear Toss, benefiting a local charity. Janine Weber had turned on the jets and burned two Beauts on her way to her first goal of the season, to put the Riveters up 1-0. But a couple of minutes later, Kelley Steadman responded with her own solo effort on the power play, tallying her seventh and making it rain fur over the glass. A late goal by Meghan Fardelmann put a damper on the Beauts’ good vibes, however, and they ended the first frame down 2-1.

The second period was all Riveters. Belyakova led the charge with her two goals (also her first two of the year) as New York pulled away, scoring three straight and chasing Brianne McLaughlin from the net for the third time this season. Fardelmann scored again as well, as New York took advantage of a depleted and tired Beauts defense, rushing hard and crashing the net on both McLaughlin and her reliever, Amanda Makela. The two teams also got increasingly physical, with at least one of Belyakova’s goals coming at the tail end of borderline interference calls.

A shot by Kourtney Kunichika banked off either Fujimoto or her defender, Gabie Figueroa, to make it 5-2 before the second intermission started. But by this point, with the Beauts running out of steam, another comeback seemed unlikely.

In the third, the Beauts were able to get back on par with the Riveters possession-wise, but only one more goal — a backhand floater by Devon Skeats — found its way past Fujimoto. Fardelmann completed her hat trick, earning herself the second star of the night (behind Steadman, the teddy bear goal scorer). Makela finished her evening with 15 saves.

Steadman and McLaughlin both steered clear of using the short bench as an excuse for the outcome.

“We just didn’t have it tonight, which happens,” Steadman said. “We can’t really blame it on people not being here because if you look at their roster, their talent level is pretty similar to what our talent level is here.”

Undoubtedly, it has been a story of slow starts and inconsistencies on both sides of the puck for the Beauts. That being said, not having your top blueliners on the ice would hurt any team, to say nothing of one with an already-thin defensive corps.

McLaughlin mentioned there was “a little more talking, a lot of — not yelling at each other, but yelling in a positive way, where to be, trying to trust people will be in the right spots.

“Every game we play is a different roster, unfortunately, for us, and the same with today, so we’re getting used to that, at least,” she continued.

Getting used to it hasn’t been easy for the Beauts goalie, however; she’s borne the brunt of the Beauts’ struggles all season, and Sunday’s game was no different. She had to fight through odd-man rushes and screens galore, finishing with five goals allowed on 22 shots. But she remained upbeat, saying, “You kind of have to have a sense of humor about it.

“We all just have to go out there and do our jobs. For me that was the hardest part, just trying to figure out where everybody is, and finally I just shrugged it off and said, ‘I’ll just play my game and whatever happens, happens.’”

The Beauts will have another chance to make things happen in a positive manner Jan. 3 against the Boston Pride. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Center.

Weekly News: Women’s Hockey, Christmas Edition

First, schedules are a little different this weekend, so make sure to double check before you plan your palatial women’s hockey parties. I’ve got a great buffalo cheese dip if you need a recipe!

NWHL

  • The New York Riveters will be playing the Buffalo Beauts on December 27th, 2015 at 3:30 PM ET at HarborCenter.
  • The Boston Pride will be playing the Connecticut Whale on December 27th, 2015 at 4:30 PM ET at Chelsea Piers.

Due to the USA Hockey Winter Camp starting on December 27th, several players will be missing from the games this weekend.

CWHL
No games this week! Look for the CWHL to return the week of January 2nd.

Boston Blades Skate Out 2015 With A Whimper, Not A Bang

Boston Blades Sadie St. Germain and Rachel Farrel on the ice.
Boston Blades teammates Sadie St. Germain and Rachel Farrel wait to take a shot on Genevieve Lacasse during warm ups on Saturday, December 21.
By the time the Boston Blades concluded their six-game series against Brampton Thunder on December 6, they seemed to be finding their feet, if not yet a win. They’ve struggled both defensively and offensively in front of the net–Genevieve Lacasse broke a record for saves during a CWHL season this Saturday night, and she’s now made 741 over a total of 16 games, posting a SVP of .917–but their team was beginning to look like, well, a team. Captain Tara Watchorn was upbeat and confident when I spoke to her on December 6, which is the last full game she played for the team.

Since she left the Blades’ game against the Inferno on December 12, Watchorn has played the first half of one game (against the Furies on December 19) and been scratched from the roster for two because of an upper-body injury. Defense Dru Burns and forward Megan Myers have also been late scratches for the last two and three games, respectively, for personal reasons. Without them, the Blades look disorganized and disoriented on the ice. Their defeats by the Calgary Inferno on December 12 (4-0) and 13 (4-1) weren’t surprising–Calgary is leading the league–but their collapse against the Toronto Furies this weekend was less expected.

While the Toronto Furies do have the terrifying and capable Natalie Spooner on their roster, they’ve been just above the Blades in the CWHL standings for most of the season. The Blades’ only victory (in overtime) so far this season was against the Furies back in October. Toronto should have been the closest to an even match that the Blades have faced so far this season. Instead, Boston saw a single goal (from Megan Shea in the final minute) on Saturday in their 4-1 loss to Toronto, and a shutout by Sonja van der Bliek on Sunday that left the score at 4-0. That shutout happened during a game in which Boston had zero penalties and Toronto had four minors, including two that overlapped, giving Boston a precious 37 seconds of 5-on-3 advantage. What happened? Everyone ended up stuck behind Toronto’s net, along with the puck. Reader, I screamed.

There are a number of factors that led to the Blades’ collapse against the Furies this weekend, most of but not all of them on the blue line. The absence of key players Watchorn and Burns made the deficits of other players more glaring. According to Burns, the Blades are playing 1 – 2 – 2 system, but for that to work, those last two players have to actually stay back and keep the puck in the offensive zone and out of their own. I spent a lot of Sunday’s game against the Furies trying to pick out the Blades’ defensive players who weren’t Sarah Duncan. Frankly, it was difficult to tell when they were engrossed in the offensive fray and scrambling for the puck.

This defensive confusion magnified the consistent issue plaguing the Blades this weekend, which was their inability to hold onto the puck. Missed passes combined with repeated-chip-and-chases led to frequent turnover and movement from zone to zone. The Furies were visibly faster and quicker to react, shutting down scoring chances from the Blades both by creating traffic in front of the net but also by constantly intercepting stray passes. The Blades’ inability or choice not to carry the puck into the offensive zone failed them time and time again. By the time Megan Shea scored the Blades’ lone goal this weekend and dove into a shower of falling teddy bears (yes, it was the Blades’ teddy bear toss this weekend) on Saturday night, the onlookers were all concerned what to do with the bears if Christina Kessler managed a shutout for the Furies. Should we throw them to Lacasse, like a bouquet? Should we throw them at Kessler and attempt to smother her? No offense to Kessler, who blocked 29 of 30 shots on Saturday–I’d have felt the same about any other goalie in her position, smack in front of the Blades’ opponents’ net.

While I have all the sympathy for the Blades, my concern for their progress this season has risen again. While Burns and Myers should soon return to the Blades’ bench, Watchorn’s extended absence has already caused a major setback for the team. They’ve worked so hard to craft the cohesion I saw against the Thunder, both building a team nearly from scratch and facing a heavily front-loaded schedule for the season. The Boston Blades have played more games than any other team in the league–16–and have only eight more to go, six of those against Les Canadiennes, who will be a formidable opponent.

Toronto Furies players Natalie Spooner, Tomomi Kurata, Sonja van der Bliek on the ice at NESC.
Toronto Furies Natalie Spooner, Tomomi Kurata, and Sonja van der Bliek (in teammate Sami Jo Small’s jersey) idle on the ice during warmups at NESC on Saturday, December 19.

Weekly News: CWHL & NWHL All-Star Game updates, and more!

If you’re pining for the CWHL All-Star Game, check out highlight’s from last year’s, including the ceremonial face off between Charline Labonté, captain of the Red Team, and Jessica Campbell, captain of the White Team.

The Boston Blades: Work In Progress

The last time I attended a Boston Blades game, it was the Blades’ home opener against the Calgary Inferno on October 31, a rout which ended 7-1 Calgary. I wasn’t hopeful about the Blades’ chances for the season by the game’s conclusion, and they’ve continued to struggle throughout the first half, netting a single shoutout victory over the Toronto Furies on October 18 with 11 losses in regulation. The Blades lost again on Sunday to the Brampton Thunder (4-2), but the vibe postgame couldn’t have been more different than when I spoke to team captain Tara Watchorn at the end of the home opener. Even fresh off another loss, all three players I spoke with were excited and hopeful, and by that point, so was I. The Boston Blades are doing great stuff, and I’m hoping they stick around for many seasons to come. Here’s why.

Back in May, the very first post I wrote for Watch This Hockey focused on the impending dissolution of the Boston Blades’ stacked roster and the impact of the National Women’s Hockey League on the state of professional women’s hockey in the United States. As the NWHL (and revived Minnesota Whitecaps) are showing, there’s a huge pool of untapped talent here as well as a sustainable market for women’s hockey. The United States can compete. This fledgling iteration of the Blades is no exception.

The Blades are having difficulty finding their footing for a number of reasons. Last year, cracking the Blades roster was a test of merit; with five competing teams, women’s hockey is now a marketplace that enables talented players to shop around. Since the CWHL does not pay players (although the league has announced a plan to start doing so in the 2017-2018 season), the Blades offer no financial incentive. Players who once had no option but Boston now have the option to live in several different metro areas–after last winter, I can’t blame anyone for fleeing south. Last, but not least, as Watchorn said to me on Sunday, “Before, there was only the one team… I think a lot of girls came out of college and it was tough, you had one roster to crack, so a lot of girls didn’t continue to play.”

Most of the Blades’ new roster have had a few years since they were regularly on the ice, and the team only has two weekly practices, one hour each on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. In addition to developing team cohesion after intense roster change and a complete turnover in management and coaching, the Boston Blades are also focusing on developing the players themselves. “There’s a lot of girls who played college and played not as a big a role for four years,” said Watchorn. “And now they’re here and they get a lot of ice and get to be a bigger impact on the team and they’re really thriving in that role. They’re getting a lot of confidence and it’s really showing.”

One of those thriving players is forward Sadie St. Germain, who graduated from Syracuse in 2014 and joined the Blades roster alongside her sister Clara this year. St. Germain scored her first professional goal on Sunday, an unassisted breakaway during the second period that was the Blades’ opening goal against the Thunder. “Our winger just poked it out, it was supposed to be a pass, she went a little far ahead with it, but I just poked it past the D or two D that were in front of me and then just won the footrace and I wasn’t going to miss the goal after that, so,” St. Germain said. Of the Blades, she said, “This is actually one of the most fun teams I’ve ever been on. Everybody is just very happy to be here and be playing again, and I think that just drives us all, we’re all on the same page and we all just click.”

Both Watchorn and defense Dru Burns stressed the team’s atmosphere as well as player development being important to the team. “Everyone gets along so well.. we’re having so much fun on and off the ice. It’s so much fun to be a part of [the Blades] and watch the team grow and girls get better every game,” Burns said. While some players did seem frustrated as they came off the ice on Sunday, for a team that had just seen their tenth loss in a row, the three players I spoke seemed to be having a good time. They had played a good game, after all: that loss against Brampton was closer than the score suggests.

Last Sunday’s game at Rodman Arena concluded the Boston Blades’ six-game series against the Brampton Thunder. This match was the Blades’ strongest showing yet. While the game ended 4-2, the scoreboard read 0-0 at the end of the first period and 1-1 at the end of the second. The crux of the Blades’ defensive success remains goaltender Genevieve Lacasse, who’s stood on her head almost every game this season. She blocked 46 of the 49 shots leveled on goal (Brampton’s final goal was an empty netter), finishing with a .938 SVP to Thunder goaltender Liz Knox’s .866 SVP. That said, the Blades continue to improve defensively. Burns credits the 1-2-2 system the Blades have been using, which she described as “more laidback” and easier for the team to work on with in limited practice time. While Brampton managed one goal at even strength and a concluding empty netter when Boston had six players on the ice, the remaining half of their goals were scored on powerplay. Considering the Blades spent 8 minutes with a player in the box and the Thunder only 4, the Blades need to work on both player discipline and their penalty kill. Also, they need to stop pulling Lacasse. That said, this was a close game. So close.

The Boston Blades I saw on Sunday were not the Blades that I saw at the end of October. They’re playing a much tighter game, and they’re far more competitive. The growing confidence Watchorn spoke of is becoming evident on the ice. “We’re getting better every day and we’ve just gotta find that win,” she said on Sunday. I believe they can.

Whale’s Engstrom Suspended After Head Shot on Beauts’ Duggan

The National Women’s Hockey League announced Thursday that Connecticut Whale forward Molly Engstrom will be suspended for one game after being ejected from Dec. 6’s game against the Buffalo Beauts.

Engstrom and Beauts forward Meghan Duggan got into an altercation in the Whale’s defensive zone, away from the play, which Engstrom had started by cross-checking Duggan in the back. Duggan turned to confront Engstrom and received multiple cross-checks to her upper body, the final one to her head resulting in an injury.  The entire incident was broken down and explained in a YouTube video posted by the league: 

Engstrom received a five-minute major for an illegal check to the head and a game misconduct during the game. With the suspension, she misses this Sunday’s game against the New York Riveters and, as per the league and multiple other sources, will not be paid during the suspension, nor will any other suspended player for the duration of their suspension.

Duggan, meanwhile, did not return to game action. There has been no official update on her status, but she has a troublesome history of concussions to consider when taking into account the blows she received to her head.

NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan, NWHLPA Director Erika Lawler, NHL Department of Player Safety Director Patrick Burke and members of the NWHLPA not present during last Sunday’s game took part in the hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Burke was present as part of a working relationship he has with the NWHL to review and help establish policies on illegal hits and plays, as first reported by Kate Cimini of Today’s Slapshot. With his help, Rylan and the NWHL seek to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t become a regular occurrence; time will tell whether the disincentive via lost pay or the relatively short duration of suspension will be the bigger factor in that. Granted, one game is almost one-tenth of the remainder of the season, plus the fact that she was ejected less than midway through the game means she’s missed a good amount of time already, but we shall see.

 

More on this as information develops.

 

NYR @ BOS: Jenny Scrivens and Brittany Ott Face Off in Boston

Jenny Scrivens and Brittany Ott in goal (two photos placed in opposition in black and white)
Jenny Scrivens in warmups before NYR @ BOS on 12/6; Brittany Ott midgame during CTW @ BOS on 11/29.

Saturday night’s game for the Boston Pride against the visiting Buffalo Beauts was a high-scoring, rollercoaster ride: 13 goals, four goalies, and a hat trick from Devon Skeats that still didn’t net the Beauts a win. Sunday’s match against the Riveters had a different tone altogether. Scoreless through the first two periods, this was the first NWHL game to go without a goal for this long. The Pride’s Jillian Dempsey was the first to put to get the puck in the net nearly 50 minutes into the game. While Saturday saw a stellar offensive effort from both the Pride and the Beauts, it was the Pride and the Riveters’ goaltending that shone on Sunday. Specifically, Jenny Scrivens and Brittany Ott.

When Jenny Scrivens joined the Riveters roster as the third goalie in their lineup behind Nana Fujimoto and Shenae Lundberg, more was made of her dual role in the NWHL organization (PR) and her marriage to Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens than her goaltending skills. With Fujimoto the clear forerunner when it came to ice time, it seemed unlikely that Scrivens would spend much time in net; she was the last NWHL goaltender to make her debut, with six minutes to go in the Riveters’ game against the Beauts on November 29th. Sunday’s game was Scrivens’ first start in net after Fujimoto and Lundberg were both sidelined by injury. Since the NWHL requires two goaltenders to dress for each game, Boston College veteran Corinne Boyles was called up to serve as Scrivens’ backup for the game. Scrivens’ debut was awaited eagerly by many. How would she do against the Pride, arguably the strongest offensive force in the league? This seems an intimidating prospect for any opposing goaltender’s starting debut, let alone one coming back into the game after five years off the ice.

Coincidentally, Harvard’s Bright-Landry Center is the last place where Scrivens started in goal, then playing for Cornell in the 2009 playoffs. “That was the last time I’ve actually played a game,” Scrivens confirmed post-game. You wouldn’t know it from her composure on the ice. Scrivens seemed confident and composed throughout the game, fending off 30 shots from the Pride, sometimes with dramatic saves. Most of the excitement of this game was watching Scrivens dazzle in net. Scrivens credited some off her command in net to her play last Sunday. “I think the six minutes I got last week really helped, because I wasn’t as nervous as I expect I would be, and I was able to settle right into my game and try my best to give our team a chance.” While the final score was 4-1 Boston, two of those were empty net goals from Hilary Knight (Scrivens was pulled twice by the Riveters in an effort to even the score). Scrivens added, “I see it as a one-goal game. I don’t see it as a four-goal game.”

Even Pride coach Bobby Jay praised her play. He had more to say, though, about the other goaltender on the ice on Sunday: the Pride’s Ott, who allowed only one of the Riveters’ 22 shots in the net. Ott has struggled in her past few games at home, including during the Pride’s three-loss streak, and Lauren Slebodnick started in goal against the Beauts the previous day before being replaced by Ott in the third period. While Scrivens’ stellar success was unanticipated and dramatic, Ott’s improvement was just as notable. “I’m so happy for her – both of them – all three of them have worked tremendously hard. We hit a little rough spot – I know her and Lauren haven’t played as good as I know they could and they know they can recently,” Bobby Jay said. “Even for established veterans with a lot of experience and success, everyone goes through it from time to time, so I give her a lot of credit mentally for fighting through it and putting in a great performance today.” Hopefully, Sunday’s game is a return to the stellar goaltending Ott has delivered in the past for the Boston Blades and the University of Maine.

Stalwart goaltending might not be as exciting to watch as the firestorm of the Pride’s game against Buffalo on Saturday night, but it’s a crucial component of both the Riveters’ and the Prides’ future success that has been a recent struggle for the Pride. I’m looking forward to seeing Ott continue to shine on the ice, as well as the new, personal struggle of whether to root for the Pride as a whole or just Jenny Scrivens.

Weekly News: CWHL All-Star Game, NWHL’s Dunkin’ Donuts Sponsorship

The Boston Pride to Play The Minnesota Whitecaps Twice

The Boston Pride are coming to Minnesota to play the Minnesota Whitecaps! THIS IS LIKE A PRESENT FROM THE NWHL JUST TO ME, I AM SO EXCITED!

So, first, the practical details. The Pride are playing the Minnesota Whitecaps, who you may recall are currently an unafiliated team, of the former WWHL (Western Women’s Hockey League). The Whitecaps roster include such notable players as former Gophers Rachel Bona, Meghan Lorence, and Mira Jalosuo, as well as some big names from USA Hockey, including Monique Lamoureux and Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson, Jessie Vetter, and Alex Rigsby.

There will be two games, on Saturday, December 12th at 6:00 PM CST, and Sunday, December 13th at 1:00 PM CST. Both games will be played at Ridder Arena, home of the Minnesota Golden Gopher’s women’s team. Tickets are $5 per person, with children 12 and under getting in for free. Tickets can be purchased through the Gopher Ticket Office, either online at z.umn.edu/mnwhitecaps or by calling 612-624-8080 or 1-800-U-GOPHER. Be aware that while all tickets are general admission and first come first serve, the online ticket picker does have you pick out a section to sit in. Whitecaps players will be available to sign autographs after both games, and Pride players will be available for autographs after Saturday’s game.

If you’re not in Minnesota, or just can’t make it to Ridder, Saturday’s game will be televised locally on KSTC45 locally and on NESN on the east coast. NESN is also available nationally via DirecTV and Dish Network. The NWHL also intends to stream both games live on Cross-Ice Pass.

This past weekend, the Minnesota Whitecaps played Shattuck-St. Mary’s girl’s prep team twice, splitting the series, and you can read recaps of those games here and here. Previously, the Whitecaps also split a two game pre-season series against the New York Riveters– you can read Annalise’s recap of the Whitecaps’ victory over the Riveters or the league’s recap of the series.

I’m not quite sure who my money is on, for these games– the Pride have been good, going 5-3-0 so far this season, and they have the explosive offensive power exemplified by Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker. The Whitecaps, on the other hand, have some truly excellent players, including a very aggressive defensive corps headed up by Monique Lamoureux, but haven’t had as much practice time or game time together. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another series split, but in any case, I think we’re going to see some great hockey this weekend.