Friday Read: New York Riveters move to Brooklyn, Boston Blades new managment

The NWHL Signs Janine Weber

“Janine is a big power forward, who has a great net-front presence and knack for scoring big goals,” [Rylan] said. “The New York Riveters are thrilled to welcome Janine to the team and we are excited to watch her game continue to grow.”

NWHL Moves New York Riveters Home Rink to Brooklyn

The NWHL founder and commissioner Dani Rylan, who also serves as New York Riveters GM, announced to media Thursday morning that the League had recently signed a contract for the Riveters with Aviator Sports and Events in Brooklyn, New York.

CWHL ANNOUNCES BOSTON BLADES’ MANAGEMENT TEAM

The CWHL announced today that it has appointed the team of Krista Patronick and Michelle Clement-Billingsley to lead the management and operations of the Boston Blades. Patronick assumes the role of general manager, while Clement-Billingsley is director of operations.

Boston Pride Summer Training Camp Report

Players on the ice at the Boston Pride Training Camp
Players at the Boston Pride Training Camp, photographed by Erin Bartuska

The Boston Pride’s Training Camp was held this weekend at Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, MA. For the regular season, the Pride will be playing at Allied Veterans Memorial Rink in Everett. I went on Saturday morning to check out the players in attendance. While the stands were far from full, I definitely had company, including others snapping photos of the action on the ice.

The roster available at the door was full of familiar names and even more CWHL players than I expected. A breakdown:

Blades: Exactly half of the 30 players on the roster are from the Boston Blades, 14 of them current or former players, one (Brooke Fernandez, most recently of the ZSC Lions of the Swiss Women’s Hockey League) drafted by the Blades in the 15th round of the 2014 CWHL draft.

Olympians: Two-time Olympians Kelli Stack and Kacey Bellamy ( who was present but not skating).

US natives who’ve been playing abroad: Brooke Fernandez, Chelsea Furlani of Bolzano Eagles in the Elite Women’s Hockey League, and Cherie Hendrickson, a former Blades player who most recently played for the Moscow Region Tornado of the Russian Women’s Hockey League.

Team USA: In addition to Stack and Bellamy, the roster features several other players who’ve represented the US at the national level, including Emily Field, Amanda Pelkey, and Marissa Gedman.

All of the players present have played at the collegiate level, most of them for ECAC Hockey or Hockey East schools. All but Kierstin Visser are US natives.

[vimeo 128034411 w=500 h=281]

Boston Pride (NWHL) Summer Training Camp from Erin Bartuska on Vimeo.

The Boston Blades & the Future of US Women’s Hockey

From their inception in 2010 until this spring, the Boston Blades were the only American team in the CWHL. Since the collapse of the Western Women’s Hockey League (WWHL) in 2013, they’ve been the only opportunity for most women who are US citizens to play at the highest level, aside from Team USA. The CWHL does not offer visa sponsorship to players, but because players need to be able to live (and work to support themselves) near their teams, with few exceptions, players for the teams north of the border are Canadian. Exceptions are generally either in school or working for an employer who could sponsor them for a visa. In 2014, a full third of the 21 players Team USA sent to Sochi were from the Boston Blades; this year at Worlds, 5 of 22 players on Team USA were from the Blades. Even with the relationship between the CWHL and the Blades obviously strained, there was no competition for star players like Hilary Knight. Until this spring.

With the advent of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), there will be five professional women’s hockey teams in the United States. This includes the Boston Pride (NWHL) and the Boston Blades (CWHL), making Boston indisputably women’s hockey’s current hometown. While the NWHL and CWHL won’t be in direct battle on the ice, there’s going to be fierce competition for roster spots, and not just from US players. The NWHL has announced their intent to sponsor players for visas, which would allow them to bring in international players and pay them. Sponsoring players for P-1 (Internationally Recognized Athlete) or O-1 (Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement) visas isn’t cheap, so we may not see a bunch of them, but it’s likely that the CWHL will see some roster shakeups across the border as well.

What’s certain is that change is going to happen in the US, starting with the Boston Blades roster. Genevieve Lacasse has already expressed interest; Hilary Knight and Jess Koizumi were spotted at the NWHL launch party in April. The Blades are also losing both their head coach, Digit Murphy, and their general manager Aronda Kirby, who were let go by the CWHL following a legal dispute over the Blades’ logo trademark. While that’s going to make for an interesting 2015-2016 CWHL season, given that the Boston Blades are the 2015 Clarkson Cup champions, that doesn’t spell doom for the Blades by any means. They’re established in the CWHL, they have a short but strong history of competitive success, and women’s hockey is teeming with incredible players at the collegiate level. The Blades may be the main professional team represented on Team USA, the majority of players are actually from NCAA teams: 11 of 21 at the 2014 Olympics and 12 of 22 at 2015 Worlds.

There are so many incredibly talented women in the US right now who use up their NCAA eligibility and have nowhere to play afterward. Even for those who can get a roster spot on a CWHL team, the financial burden is huge. The advent of the NWHL is not only going to provide more women an opportunity to play at the professional level, but the ability to do so sustainably. While we’re definitely going to see an influx of younger players at first, in the long term, if the NWHL is successful, I hope it will also allow women in the US and abroad to have longer playing careers in hockey. Right now, most of the older women who headline the CWHL have spent their careers juggling undergraduate and graduate education as well as coaching and other employment on top of training, play, and family life. My hope for the NWHL is that it will allow players to be super athletes without having to be superwomen as well…

…and also that more support for women’s hockey at the professional level will net Team USA some gold at the Olympics.

CWHL Weekend Preview: Final Weekend Before the Clarkson Cup!

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

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

Boston Blades @ Montreal Stars

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

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

Calgary Inferno @ Brampton Thunder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boston Blades @ Calgary Inferno

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

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

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

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

[CWHL]

Toronto Furies @ Brampton Thunder

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

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

Follow Up On CWHL Player Discipline and Suspensions

Following the elbowing incident and subsequent fight between Monique Lamoureux and Jamie Lee Rattray in last Sunday’s Boston @ Brampton game, I contacted the CWHL for some clarification about what the current procedure is for player discipline outside of in-game penalties. I was particularly interested in what the answer was because I haven’t come across mention of players being suspended previously, but Allyson Fox, one of the commentators on Sunday’s match and a former Brampton defense, seemed sure that there would be a multi-game suspension for the fight.

Continue reading Follow Up On CWHL Player Discipline and Suspensions

CWHL Weekend Recap: Calgary Sweeps Toronto, Boston Crushes Brampton

Calgary Inferno Sweep Toronto Furies

(Photo from Dave Holland/CWHL)

The Calgary Inferno smoked the Toronto Furies this weekend, increasing their lead in the league standings to a solid 22 points in 14 games, 5 points more than the second place Boston Blades.

Continue reading CWHL Weekend Recap: Calgary Sweeps Toronto, Boston Crushes Brampton