Weekly News: Shannon Szabados, Kendra Broad, and more

“The biggest thing that we’re looking for, what Dani (Rylan, league founder and commissioner) likes to say is: ‘we want to have 72 stars in this league,’” said the representative. “We want to have every player in this league be a big deal. The best way to do that is for everybody to know them and care about them and have information on them.”

“I knew I had to come here (to Western) to finish my fifth year of eligibility,” she said. Not that it was easy to walk away from the prospect of going pro. “Even though it’s not a lot of money… it was kind of hard to turn that down,” she said.

On top of the talented draft class, Jordanna Peroff, who was acquired Friday from Toronto where she won the 2014 Clarkson Cup, was back with several McGill teammates including Charline Labonte, team captain Cathy Chartrand, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Carly Hill, and others.

“As a team, we need to become stronger defensively and offer our goaltenders more support,” said General Manager, Rebecca Michael. “Up front, we need to start producing more throughout all four lines and not solely depending on our top players.”

“I’m pretty confident either way I’ll get a good amount of ice time, but definitely I’d like to play a little bit of a bigger role this year with a year of experience,” Szabados told The Canadian Press. “I’m a lot more confident going into this season with how I played last year.”

The Beauts don’t have as much veteran experience as the other NWHL teams, but look for the team to develop into one of the fastest and possibly one of the highest-scoring teams in the league.

  • Need to find a NWHL team to cheer for? Taylor Clark is running a series previewing each NWHL team and their facilities over on Along the Boards. So far she’s done the Buffalo Beauts and the Boston Pride.

2015 CWHL Draft Preview: Time to Restock The Cupboards

Where and When:

The Draft is this Sunday, August 23rd, 2015. We expect to see things kick off at 3PM eastern.

To follow along, check out the CWHL’s Draft Live Tracker, or follow along on Twitter:

If you’re a Periscope user, I’d suggest following Krista Patronick, the Blades’ GM. She’s said a couple of times that she’s going to try to stream portions of the Draft on Periscope.

The teams will pick in reverse-order of how they ended the season– so, Brampton first, then Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Boston. Familiar so far, right? So, the trick comes that each player, when she registers for the draft, has to provide the geographic area where she is willing to play– Calgary, Montreal, Boston, or Toronto (and thus either the Furies or the Thunder). She can pick as many areas or as few as she wants. The Boston GM can only pick players who are willing to play in Boston, etc.

The Picks

To register for the Draft, players must have graduated from college, and neither have ever signed with a CWHL club, or be committed to another league. You can check out the entire draft pool after the league has posted it– it’s going to be up on their site some time today.

Some of the most high-profile and notable players in this year’s draft include Marie Philip-Poulin, Hayley Wickenheiser, Brianne Jenner, Elizabeth Tremblay, and Katia Clement-Heydra.

Marie-Philip Poulin

Marie-Philip Poulin is notable because she has played in the CWHL before. When she was 16, Poulin played for the Montreal Stars during the 2007/08 season, and in fact was named Rookie of the Year, before going on to win the Clarkson Cup with Montreal in 2008/09. Poulin has been very open about the fact that she has only declared Montreal as the area she’s willing to play in, so expect to see her go to the Stars again. I’ve also been told by the CWHL that Poulin would be eligible again for the Rookie of the Year award, as it is her first drafted year.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Poulin is a great player, and a huge asset for Montreal to pick up. Poulin had 181 points in 111 career games with the Terriers, and held the captaincy as well in her senior year. She’s been nominated for the Patty Kaz twice, and was a top-3 finalist in 2015, her senior year. When she graduated, she left BU as the all-time leader in goals (81), assists (100) and points (181). Aside from her college career, Poulin has been rather prominent on the international stage for Canada. She’s won Olympic gold twice, in 2010 and 2014, as well as gold at 2012 Women’s Worlds. She has the unique distinction of being the only player to have scored the game-winning goal in every Olympic gold medal game that she’s been in, earning her the nickname of “Noted US Dream Ruiner” among several Watch This writers. She’s a great two-way, defensive forward with the confidence and skill to also make big moves on her own, and one who makes every player she plays with better and more cohesive.

Hayley Wickenheiser

Wick is a legend, and rightfully so. Hayley Wickenheiser is a 5-time Winter Olympic medalist who has been on Canada’s National Team since she was 15, and has the Order of Canada. She’s also represented Canada at the Summer Olympics once, for softball. She got silver at Nagano in 1998, and gold in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. She captained the Canadian National Team starting in 2006 after Cassie Campbell retired, up until right before the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She was named the tournaments’ most valuable player in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics.

She also made history as the first female skater to play professional men’s hockey. In 2003, she got her first point with Kirkkonummen Salamat of the Finnish second division men’s professional league. Wickenheiser also played in Eskilstuna, Sweden with a men’s professional division-one hockey team for the 08-09 season. She was also offered an invitation to the Philadelphia Flyer’s rookie camp in 1998.

Wickenheiser has said that she has only listed Calgary as a geographic location she’s willing to go to, so expect to see her in an Inferno jersey.

Brianne Jenner

Brianne Jenner is an Olympic gold medalist (2014, with Canada), and a graduate of Cornell, where she played all four years. She put up 229 points in a 129 game career with the Big Red, 93 goals and 136 assists. She’s a beast. I’d expect to see her in the top forwards in the CWHL next season. She’s going to grad school in Calgary, so expect to see her on the Inferno.

Team Drafts

Brampton Thunder

Brampton. Oh Brampton.

Brampton desperately needs some forwards who can keep up with Jamie Lee Rattray, Jess Jones, and Laura Fortino. The three of them had about 40% of the team’s points put together last season, which isn’t really a great sign.

They’ve had a rough time in net, as well. Liz Knox put up a .888 save percentage for them in 11 games, and Erica Howe, who started 13 games, put up a .896 sv%, which is not at all what I’ve been used to seeing from her when she was at Clarkson or on Team Canada. Sonja van der Bliek was dealing with injury last season, but hasn’t been starter material in the past either. I wouldn’t expect to see Howe back for Brampton– she was at the Buffalo Beaut’s try out camp, and while she hasn’t signed with the NWHL, it does mean that she’s likely been released from the CWHL (possibly with a one year league suspension if she didn’t ask to get released before she tried out).

Defense has been a particularly rough spot for Brampton– I feel like a lot of it has been a coaching / style mismatch with their goaltenders rather than necessarily their players, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brampton go for defenders in the draft.

Toronto Furies

Well, first off, Toronto is not losing Jenelle Kohanchuk! If they’ll lose anyone else from last year is, as always, kind of crapshoot to predict.

That said, Toronto could stand to pick up some depth scoring in the draft, and in generally, really needs to work on defense, and their away game. Their team save percentage was the second lowest in the league, and there’s a noticeable down-tick in their stats on the road. So, what are they going to do in the draft? It’s always hard to predict in the CWHL, as it’s hard to know what holes the team will be trying to fill, but as always, a good bet is forward depth and defense.

Montreal Stars

This might be a somewhat unpopular opinion, but I really don’t think Montreal needs Poulin to win the Clarkson Cup this year. I think they need depth scoring and to pull things together on defense. Montreal finished in a very close top three teams last year, and they have some rockstar talent already in Ann-Sophie Bettez, Caroline Ouellette, and Noémie Marin. While I think you’d have to be downright silly to turn down Poulin, I think the problem facing this team is spreading out the scoring from two or three hot players into depth, and not making Catherine Herron or Charline Labonté save your bacon all the time on defense.

That said, I’m really looking forward to seeing Poulin play with this team– it could be amazing.

Calgary Inferno

Calgary did a big rebuild last year, rebuilding their team to be fast and deadly on the front end. I’d bet Calgary continues in this line, but hopefully picking up some more defense and some depth scoring. This is also a team that’s had good but not outstanding goaltending– I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to pick up a goaltender, depending on who is available in the draft (or via a trade…?).

With Irwin’s health in question for this next season, that may be the place that Wickenheiser is expected to slide in, as another experienced top goal-scorer for the team. If Wick isn’t enough, Jenner is certainly going to add fire power.

Remember, Calgary also has a new coach this year– Scott Reid, the former assistant coach, replaced Kevin Haller, who was released toward the end of last season. Meaghan Mikkelson-Reid isn’t currently listed as an assistant coach, which she was last year. Several CWHL announcements around the Cup Tour mentioned Mikkelson-Reid as a player for Calgary– perhaps, post-baby, we’ll see her return to the ice as a player?

Boston Blades

Boston’s a bit of a gutted team right now, having lost almost all their team to the NWHL. If you look at last year’s roster, only eight players haven’t signed with the NWHL. Of those eight, the Blades are likely to lose a couple more. While I’d expect Tara Watchorn and Genevieve Lacasse to stay with the CWHL, both players were in the US to finish up grad school. With that done, I’d expect them to move to another CWHL team in Canada– I’m hearing possibly Calgary, which would make the Inferno a truely terrifying team to face. Jenny Potter only played six games with the Blades last season, and was named the head coach at Ohio State in April, so I’d be surprised if she sticks around.

Aside from the visible blow of losing serious high-end talent like Knight, Decker, Bellamy, and Duggan, one of the things that has made the Blades so much fun to watch and such a steam roller of a team has been their depth. The Blades have a new GM in Krista Patronick, a new coach in Brian McCloskey, a new arena, and essentially an entirely new roster. While the geographic limitations on player selection somewhat blunts the edge of this, the Blades have the last pick in the draft as well. It’s going to be an interesting season to watch the Blades.

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.

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.

Montreal Stars take on the Toronto Furies twice, & the U18 Women’s Worlds!

WEEKEND PREVIEW: THE MONTREAL STARS GO TO TAKE ON THE TORONTO FURIES TWICE!

CWHL WEEKEND ACTION: MONTREAL STARS @ TORONTO FURIES:

  • Saturday, January 10th, 6:30 PM CDT This game will be streamed!
  • Sunday, January 11th, 11:45 AM CDT

The Montreal Stars are currently second in the league, just one point behind the league-leading Calgary Inferno (although the Inferno does have a game in hand on the Stars). Toronto is currently second from last, but have the least games of anyone in the league with only 10 games played.

Montreal’s Caroline Ouellette and Toronto’s Natalie Spooner are currently tied for 5th in the league’s scoring leaders, with nine points each in ten games, but it might be goaltending rather than scoring that’s the decider in this weekend’s series. Montreal’s Charline Labonte is currently second in the league with a save percentage of .925% in 7 games. Sami Jo Small has a .917 SV% for Toronto this season, but she’s only played 3 game so far– it’s more likely that we’ll see Christina Kessler, who has a .909 SV% in 7 starts.

Also, for everyone who can get to Saturday’s game, the first 50 fans in the door will get free CWHL clackers!

Continue reading Montreal Stars take on the Toronto Furies twice, & the U18 Women’s Worlds!

CWHL Weekend Wrap-Up: Boston Blades split series with Brampton Thunder, Montreal Stars split series with Toronto Furies

Split series all around, and Boston’s canceled games are forfeit.

Okay, I’m saying it here and now– I’m not promising coverage over a holiday weekend again. Sorry, y’all, for my utter failure in having coverage for this past weekend. I went to see my parents for the holiday, and well. Things got away from me.

So, what did happen this past weekend? Well, Boston played Brampton twice, and split the series with them, taking their first loss of the season. You should check out Zoë at the Stanley Cup of Chowder’s recap of the games, it’s pretty good. Jordan Smelker had a sweet hat-trick in Boston’s 6-0 rout of Brampton on Sunday. Also, I’m really starting to think that a lot of Erica Howe’s issues in net for the Thunder are stemming from the defense in front of her– possibly that it’s a real style mismatch, although I think that they’re starting to gel better. It’s a rough process to watch, though, when I’m used to watching Erica Howe in net for Canada or the NCAA Championship winning Clarkson.

As Zoë also pointed out, the CWHL’s website is now listing the canceled Montreal @ Boston games as forfeits for Boston. This means Montreal has pulled ahead of Boston in the standings, leaving Boston in third place. Although Boston has games in hand, and I think they could make this deficit up, it sets a concerning precedent for labor relations between the CWHL and their players.

On the one hand, striking is never without its costs– also, the CWHL probably had to pay out for the wasted ice time (which is $$$, in case you don’t know), and scheduling new ice time seems quite tricky for the league due to the various constraints on them. (Team availability, ice availability, etc) On the other hand, it’s my understanding that the league lacks any sort of formal player input into league policy, such as the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with their players. Particularly for the CWHL’s only American team, having a strike result in a forfeit would be something I would think would have a particularly chilling impact on player/league relations.

Toronto and Montreal also split their two game series this weekend, with Toronto winning 4-3 in a shoot out on Saturday, while Montreal won 4-0 on Sunday. I didn’t get a chance to watch this game, so I don’t have a ton to add on this one, sadly.

All-Star Game Voting is OPEN!

In other news, voting for the captains at the All Star Game is OPEN! Here are the rules:

  • Voting period: Voting opens November 29, 2014 at 9:00 am ET and closes December 10, 2014 at 7:00 pm ET. Votes outside this time will be considered ineligible.
  • You can vote for up to 3 players once 24-hour period during the voting period.
  • Votes made by use of automated systems will disqualify the votes.

So, head on over to the voting page and get those votes in! I’m personally pulling for the all goaltender team captains. 😉

Weekend Recap: Calgary Inferno sweep Brampton Thunder, Boston games canceled.

Weekend Cancellations:

First off, let’s get this out of the way: This weekend’s Montreal @ Boston series was canceled. We don’t, officially, know why. The CWHL claims it was due to “unforeseen circumstances”. I have not heard back from the league if single-game ticket purchases for these games will be refunded.

Unofficially, Stanley Cup of Chowder’s recap is pretty consistent with our understanding of the situation, but in short, there are contract issues happening between the Blades players and the League. We’ll have more info out as we know it.

Calgary Inferno sweep Brampton Thunder in Three Game Series

So, the other series this weekend was three games between the Calgary Inferno and the Brampton Thunder. My preview was proven a bit optimistic– Brampton did not manage to steal a game, and were in fact kept to very few goals in general.

Continue reading Weekend Recap: Calgary Inferno sweep Brampton Thunder, Boston games canceled.