Boston Blades surge back with 9-4 win over New England Eagles

Meghan Grieves just after shooting and scoring on the New England Eagles' goal.
Blades forward Meghan Grieves just after scoring on the New England Eagles.

Saturday night, the 2016-2017 Boston Blades met the New England Eagles in a preseason outing at The Edge in Bedford, MA. The stands were fuller than most of the Blades games I attended last year, thanks in part to a profusion of Eagles fans; those arriving early were treated to the end of an East Coast Wizards boys’ game. While my visit to the Blades’ selection camp last month had left me hopeful, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the new roster or their opponents. I definitely wasn’t expecting such a dramatic victory for the Blades, let alone one that gave me as many questions as answers.

First, let’s address their opponents. The New England Eagles are a local veteran’s team that’s part of the Skate for the 22 Foundation. This Saturday’s game against the Blades was the first game for the Eagles as part of the foundation’s hockey program. Considering their background and freshness as a team, the Eagles played an incredible game against the Blades. They scored the first goal and matched the Blades goal-for-goal for the first period. The Eagles had a strong offensive presence and a lot of reach on the Blades working in their favor, but their energy flagged over the course of the game. This was not an easy 9-4 contest. The Eagles made the Blades work for their win.

That win. Where to start? Let’s begin with the forwards, where Boston has made the biggest gains. The team’s newcomers scored five of those nine goals, with one each for BC alums Meghan Grieves and Kate Leary, BU’s Dakota Woodworth and Kayla Tutino, and UConn’s Margaret Zimmer. Their play was fast and dynamic, long passes easily connecting through traffic, with more backhanded passing than I saw last year. “Very strong forwards,” Tutino said of her linemates, “Lots of speed and they’re strong on their sticks, so they made some great passes today.” While the 2015-2016 Blades generally relied on a chip-and-chase strategy to move the puck into the offensive zone, these players and their linemates alike confidently carried the puck across both blue lines toward the Eagles’ goal. Even at close quarters with Eagles players, who relied on their long reach as well as generating traffic near their goal, the Blades continually generated scoring opportunities and kept the play in their Eagles’ zone.

Newcomers weren’t the only forwards who shone in this game. Last year, the Blades had few goals and few consistent scorers. Megan Myers, a returning 2014-2015 player, and Megan Shea led the team with four and three goals respectively; Captain Tara Watchorn (on defense), alternate captain Kristina Brown, and Elizabeth Tremblay each scored two. Against the Eagles on Saturday, Brown scored as many goals in one game as she did in the entirety of the 2015-2016 season. Myers and returning 2014-2015 player Casey Pickett scored one goal each. After the game, Brown was glowing. “Everyone’s really starting to gel together off the ice and it was awesome to see it come together on the ice,” she said. “We obviously always have room for improvement and cleaning some stuff up, but it’s really exciting to get to our next game in Toronto.” With teammates who are truly peers on the ice, these returning players are getting the opportunity to showcase their strengths and contribute even more to the team.

Speaking of returning players, my award for Most Improved must go to Clara St. Germain, who held her own on the same line with Watchorn last night. “Clara is one of the hardest workers out there,” said assistant coach Mike Diamantopoulos. Coach Brian McCloskey elaborated, “She’s very smart, very coachable. She did improve a lot last year, I was impressed. You can always find a place for a player like her: even though she might have the size and the skating ability of some other players, she makes up for it by being really intelligent and knowing her limitations.” The Blades’ defense spent less time protecting their goal than preventing turnover—the chippy play of last year was replaced by tight, controlled forward play supported by the defense. Watchorn and returning player Dru Burns continue to be key pieces for the Blades, each assisting on a goal of Brown’s. I was less impressed by newcomer Cassandra Opela, who seemed to have trouble shooting in tight quarters and through traffic.

Finally, there are the Blades’ two new goaltenders: Lauren Dahm, who started for the Blades, and Shelley Payne, who came in during the second period. While Dahm allowed three goals and Payne only one, it’s difficult to compare their performances on that basis alone—Dahm was facing much more shot pressure from the Eagles, while the Blades kept the Eagles penned in their own zone for most of Payne’s time in net. That said, Dahm appeared nervous and unsteady on her feet: the first goal she allowed came when she was too far out from the net to block the shot, the second and third when she fell forward. Payne seemed more comfortable on the ice, steady on her feet and easily moving from standing to butterfly position; the final goal of the game went in right behind her shoulder. “Both played solid,” said Diamantopoulos. “It’s tough for them, too, playing against guys and the way they can shoot—it’s a lot different from what they face normally.”

The lineup for Saturday’s game included some practice players and does not fully reflect the final roster, which GM Krista Patronick will share this week: those players will face the Furies in Toronto on October 15 and 16 as the Blades begin their season on the road. Still, the change in energy and direction from last season is clear. Tutino and Leary were cheerful after their first professional game, eager to talk about how much fun they were having. “This is a great group of girls,” said Tutino; “It was a great game to play, and obviously fun to win,” said Leary. Meanwhile, captain Watchorn was beaming. “It’s exciting this year,” she said. “It’s going to be good. This is great.” And a hard-won great it is, too.

Boston Blades Selection Camp: “Bladies Are Back”

Morgan Grieves skates out in front of the net at Boston Blades Selection Camp
Boston College alum Morgan Grieves at the 2016-2017 Boston Blades Selection Camp

On September 15th, the second day of Selection Camp for the Boston Blades, the arena at UMass Boston was quiet. Players were already on the ice when I arrived at 8:45, demonstrating their skating skills before moving onto their stickhandling. Coach Brian McCloskey and Assistant Coach Mike Diamantopoulos (a new addition to the Blades staff) were on the ice, their eyes on the players; GM Krista Patronick watched from the stands. “Every time I watch this group skate, I just feel more and more optimistic about the season to come,” she said.

With a 1-23-0 record for 2015-2016, the bar for improvement is low. After their roster was decimated by the outflow of players from the Clarkson-Cup-winning 2014-2015 roster, the Boston Blades struggled to fill spaces at the start of the season. Patronick recruited heavily from Boston College, community ball hockey (Patronick is a goaltender), and former NCAA players looking to make a comeback to the game. While the team struggled on the ice, they flourished off of it. “Our team, how we connected was unbelievable,” says forward Erin Kickham, who joined the team last season after her graduation from BC. “That seems to be happening [now], and we’ve had two practices. That’s special. You can’t teach that.”

Another connection is evident on the ice, noted by defender Dru Burns: “One-touch passes, people are filling lanes, supporting people.” Two skates in, the 2016-2017 Blades prospects already look more coherent than the rostered players of last season. Both Patronick and Diamantopoulos expressed their excitement about influx of forwards from the 2016 CWHL draft in August. While the main roster for the team is 25 players, Patronick can protect up to 40: she expects that this will include most of the forwards.

More visible in the group of players on the ice Thursday was the new crop of goaltenders: a total of six were in attendance, taking up much of the sheet’s real estate. Patronick has since released Sarah Quigley and offered Amanda Fontaine a spot on the reserve roster. It will be difficult to replace Olympian Genevieve Lacasse, who logged 1345 minutes in 23 games last year and overtook the CWHL record (649) in just 15 of those games. Lacasse finished the Blades’ difficult season with a .904 SVP; in August, she was traded to Calgary. Those are big skates to fill. Lacasse took the vast majority of ice time, yielding only one game to back up goaltender Amanda Carridi; Patronick isn’t sure whether this year’s goaltenders will be have a similar dynamic or be more of a tandem duo. “We’re looking at all options right now,” she said, “But I think we’re in a good spot where we have to make those tough decisions.”

While the Blades are saying goodbye to Lacasse and forward Megan Shea, who played a big role last year, many players will be returning. On the ice Thursday, Carridi joined Burns and Kickham as well as Maggie DiMasi, Nicole Giannino, and both Clara and Sadie St. Germain. Absent were Blades captain Tara Watchorn, who was fulfilling her duties to Team Canada, and forward Megan Myers, who has already signed for this year. Another returning player was forward Casey Pickett, who played for the Blades prior to serving as a practice player for the Boston Pride last year. Patronick expects that she’ll play a big role this year. (Former Pride and Blades forward Kelly Cooke was also on the list of Selection Camp attendees, but not in attendance. Patronick says that she doesn’t expect Cooke to join the team, but she may referee some Blades games this year.)

Many of the new faces at the rink have ties to the returning Blades through Hockey East and Boston College. “A bunch of my old teammates played on the Blades and spoke very highly of it,” said forward Meghan Grieves, who graduated from BC this spring. “Kristina Brown and Dru Burns, as well as Melissa Bizzari, Kate Leary, and myself, we’re all playing again… It’s awesome to get to put on a new jersey with my old teammates.” Burns and fellow BC alum Kickham said they spent the summer recruiting former BC and Hockey East players; Diamantopoulos spoke highly of the players they brought in. “We got about six or seven girls out of Hockey East that I think are really going to add to the depth of our club that we didn’t have last year,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see how we can fit them into our system.”

Another crucial piece of the puzzle (a metaphor used by Burns) is defender Kikuchi Sato, who was extended an offer by the Blades after Thursday’s skate. “Sato is really impressive, I have to say,” said Patronick. “Her skating ability is really awesome, she battles hard, you probably saw her going into the corner a little bit. She just doesn’t give up, which is something we love about her.” Sato returns the love, evidently: she shared news about joining the Blades last week on Twitter.

The Blades will debut their new lineup in Toronto on October 15 and take to the ice at home on October 29 at UMass Boston. (Most Blades games this season will be played at Walter Brown, their “home” arena, as well as UMass Boston.) Judging by what I saw at Thursday’s skate, they have a promising roster in the works for the 2016-2017 season. “Bladies are back!” Burns and Kickham said in unison at their end of our conversation. “We’re really excited for another year to get out there,” added Kickham. “We’re gonna win some games.”

All-Star Game Weekend Preview: Who, What, Where, When, & How to Follow

This weekend, we have not one but two All-Star Games! What an embarrassment of riches.

CWHL All-Star Game

  • Teams will be picked by the two captains, Julie Chu and Natalie Spooner, on Friday night. The captains were chosen previously by fan-vote. The 2016 Frozen Fantasy Draft will be held on Friday January 22nd 2016 from 7 to 10pm at the Hilton Toronto.
  • See the full pool of players and other information here.
  • The All-Star Game itself will be on Saturday, January 23, 2016, at 1 PM ET the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.
  • The game itself will be three full twenty-minute periods of hockey.
  • You can watch the game on Sportsnet, at 3 PM ET.  Don’t know yet about any options for streaming or television outside of the Sportsnet zone.

NWHL All-Star Game

  • Saturday, you can Skate With The Stars as part of the All-Star Weekend Package.
  • On Sunday, the NWHL All Star Game will happen at 2 PM in the HarborCenter, in Buffalo, New York.
  • Hilary Knight and Buffalo-area native Emily Pfalzer each captain a team– check out the rosters at the NWHL’s All-Star Game page!
  • Each team will also have an All-Star Kid Coach! Meet the kids who’ll be on the bench here.
  • The NWHL All-Star Game will consist of a skill competition, and a brief game of 4 on 4.
  • We’re hoping this game will be streamed, but aren’t sure– more details as we know them.

Follow along with Angelica and Erin, who will both be at both the NWHL and CWHL All-Star Games!

  • You can find Angelica on Twitter @ReinaDeLaIsla, Instagram, and on Snapchat and Periscope under ReinaDeLaIsla.
  • You can find Erin on Twitter @ekbartus and on Snapchat under ekbartus.

Women’s Winter Classic: Let’s Look Beyond The NHL

We here at Watch This have been advocates of women’s hockey being seen on its own merits for awhile now, so the debate about the admittedly poorly executed Winter Classic (the NWHL/CWHL one, mind) is certainly relevant to our interests. The “Winter Classic” as a phrase and as a hockey concept is really the NHL’s own marketing invention, and has been increasingly explicitly a marketing bid in recent years: more outdoor games, less big-name/historic locations, and so on. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because marketing can be useful and women’s hockey in particular would benefit from larger institutions throwing their marketing weight behind it – but it does mean that you really can’t decouple the lackluster “Outdoor Women’s Classic” from the influence and background of the NHL’s Winter Classic brand.

When I (that is me, Elena) heard the news that a women’s Winter Classic was going to happen – but only sort of! individual tickets wouldn’t be sold! also it was last minute and not heavily advertised! – I just sort of sighed. Putting on an event in itself isn’t enough to guarantee profit or attention; the NHL knows that. After all, the NHL as a league is orders of magnitude more well-known than the CWHL or the NWHL, but they still advertise special events heavily. Putting on a women’s Winter Classic, but not planning ahead of time, promoting it, or really doing much of anything but the bare minimum of providing a space and a few tweets, is setting it up to fail. And, in the eyes of a lot of people, it did fail. If the event was meant as a way for the NWHL and CWHL to learn from the NHL’s experience putting on an event, then they appeared to have not left themselves with time to do it. This dry run didn’t result in a big crowd watching an outdoor women’s hockey game; time, money, and effort on the part of players and administrators – including the NHL – ended up squandered on an event for which individual tickets weren’t even sold.

But while the NHL’s lukewarm support certainly contributed to the women’s classic being more of a whimper than a bang, it wasn’t the only factor. The CWHL and the NWHL are ostensibly both grown-up, professional leagues. We therefore ought to be asking exactly why announcement of the game was delayed for so long, why details of the game were communicated so poorly to women’s hockey fans, who follow various CWHL and NWHL communications (email, twitter, and so on), and why, if there truly were hold-ups on various practical details such as broadcasting, the CWHL and the NWHL agreed to do this event this year at all.

More organized and comprehensive NHL support would be great. But if agreements between whatever parties needed to agree to make the event happen were only finalized a few days before the date, why wasn’t the agreement then to hold and promote a Winter Classic next year? As a women’s hockey fan who’s watched more than one women’s league in various sports come and go, what the rush to hold the Winter Classic this year tells me, rightly or wrongly, is that one or both leagues isn’t confident that they’ll even be around next year. It strikes me as incredibly poor marketing, on the CWHL and NWHL’s part, to rush this event out at the last minute – and I’m not really in favor of focusing on the NHL’s role in the event to the exclusion of looking at what the CWHL and NWHL have been doing. They had no coordinated media campaigns ready; they had no cross-league branding ready (merchandise and graphics in particular); they had no advertising ready. In short, they had nothing prepared to convince me, a fan, that the event was worth paying attention to.

That lack can be easily explained: the event was finalized at the last minute. But holding the event anyway, despite the last-minute nature of the preparations, was a poor choice. It signals disorganization within leagues, lack of cooperation, and lack of confidence in the future to fans. That really troubles me. We can talk all day about what the NHL could do for women’s hockey, but in 2016, when we have two independent leagues, we need to move beyond that. The CWHL and NWHL have both repeatedly asserted their confidence in the future and their ability to grow, both individually as leagues and as part of the larger community of women’s hockey. It’s time their actions reflected those statements.

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.

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.

Weekend Preview: NWHL on NESN, CWHL

There’s been so much that’s happened this week! The NWHL All-Star Game was announced, we’re looking forward to the CWHL announcing their All-Star Game, the Riveters got their first win, and the NWHL got their first TV deal, among others. So, what can you watch this weekend?

CWHL Games

  • Boston Blades @ Brampton Thunder on Saturday, Nov 21 at 6:30 PM EST (Memorial Brampton Arena)
  • Calgary Inferno @ Toronto Furies on Saturday, Nov 21 at 7:30 PM EST (Mastercard Centre) STREAMED
  • Calgary Inferno @ Toronto Furies on Sunday, Nov 22 at 1:00 PM EST (Mastercard Centre)
  • Boston Blades @ Brampton Thunder on Sunday, Nov 22 at 1:30 PM EST (Memorial Brampton Arena) STREAMED

NWHL Games

  • Connecticut Whale @ Buffalo Beauts on Sunday, Nov 22 at 3:30 PM EST (HarborCenter) STREAMED
  • New York Riveters @ Boston Pride on Sunday, Nov 22 at 3:00 PM EST (Harvard Bright-Landry Center) STREAMED & NESN

Weekend On Tap: NWHL, CWHL back in action!

NWHL

  • Connecticut Whale @ Buffalo Beauts on Sun, Nov 15 at 3:30 PM EST/4:30 PM CST (HarborCenter) Streamed
  • Boston Pride @ NY Riveters on Sun, Nov 15 at 7:00 PM EST/8:00 PM CST (Aviator) Streamed

CWHL

  • Les Canadiennes @ Calgary Inferno on Sat, Nov 14 at 8:15pm PM EST/9:15 PM CST (Winsport Arena) Streamed
  • Brampton Thunder @ Boston Blades on Sat, Nov 14 at 7:00 PM EST/8:00 PM CST (Boch Ice Center)
  • Les Canadiennes @ Calgary Inferno on Sun, Nov 15 at 1:15 PM EST/ 2:15 PM CST (Winsport Arena) Audio Stream
  • Brampton Thunder @ Boston Blades on Sun, Nov 15 at 1:30 PM EST/2:30 PM CST (NESC) Streamed

Weekly News: NWHL captains, Four Nations outcome, Desjardins comeback

  • The NWHL has announced all their captains for the year!
    • For the Boston Pride, Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker as co-captains
    • For the Buffalo Beauts, Emily Pfazler will be the captain, while Meghan Duggan and Shelby Bram will serve as assistant captains.
    • For the Connecticut Whale, Jessica Koizumi has the C, and Kaleigh Fratkin the A.
    • The New York Riveters have Ashley Johnston, Madison Packer, and Morgan Fritz-Ward, but it’s not entirely clear yet how the captain/assistant captain assignments will work out.
  • The US won the Four Nations Cup, beating Canada in a tight 3-2 win. Check out the tournament results and what they might mean going forward over at Victory Press, and check out Along the Board’s careful looks at who were the best CWHL and NWHL players at the Four Nations tournament.
  • Kathy Desjardins, last seen in net for Team Alberta in the 2013/2014 season, is back for the Calgary Inferno! She took some time off to recover from some injuries, including a concussion and a broken collarbone, but is ready to take the ice again alongside the Inferno’s new acquisitions like Hayley Wickenheiser.
  • Rachel Koteen of 540 Films is trying to kickstart a documentry about the NWHL. As someone who remembers the documentary that Jessica Desjardins did about the CWHL’s Montreal Stars fondly, and as someone who loves insight into the little things that make a league or a team tick, I’m very excited about this! While the NWHL is not sponsoring the documentary, Koteen will be working with the league and the teams to get that kind of inside access to players and teams. $11 will get you a digital copy of the documentary when it comes out, and like all Kickstarter projects, if they don’t fund their goal, you don’t lose your money. So go check it out!
  • The Calgary Inferno will be playing Team Japan today November 11th, at 4:45 PM EST. Sadly, there will be no streams of any sort for this. 🙁
  • The regular season for both the NWHL and CWHL resume this weekend!

Boston Blades Appreciation Video: Calgary @ Boston, 10/31/2015

I started working on a highlights reel (forthcoming!) of the Boston Blades home opener last Saturday, but I kept being like “why, Calgary, augh!” and somehow this is what got finished first instead: a video which includes zero goals being scored by the opposing team. #journalism

[vimeo 144953757 w=500 h=276]

Blades Appreciation Life: Calgary @ Boston, 10/31/2015 from Erin Bartuska on Vimeo.