Our final week of May brings good news and bad news. Women’s hockey sees the game grow with more investments and signings, but take a step back at the NCAA level. Some aspects remain universal constants, like Marie-Philip Poulin scoring mind-blowing goals.
1. On Ice: PWHPA plays the final games of its season this weekend
The Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association, a traveling group of professional North American women’s hockey players who play in pop-up tournaments, will finish their season out this weekend in Calgary. Games kicked off Monday with one game being played a day with each of the Canadian hubs (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto) playing each other twice before the championship game Sunday. Fans have seen some great performances from the Canadian stars after a long year of quiet caused by the pandemic, including Toronto’s Ella Shelton getting her first PWHPA goal to kick off the tournament a short-handed highlight-reel goal by Montreal’s Marie-Philip Poulin.
Here’s the remaining schedule. All games are available to watch on Sportsnet:
Friday, May 28 Team Scotiabank vs. Team Bauer 1:30 PM MDT/3:30 PM EST
Saturday, May 29 Team Sonnet VS Team Scotiabank 11:00 AM MDT/1:00 PM EST
Sunday, May 30 Seed 1 vs. Seed 2 2:30 PM MDT/4:30 PM EST
2. On Ice: Goaltender Carly Jackson re-signs with the Buffalo Beauts, defender Emma Greco re-signs with Toronto Six
After a strong rookie performance in season six, starting goaltender Carly Jackson returns to Beauts for another season. During her rookie year, Jackson started all six games the Beauts played and saw more than 40 shots in three of them, helping her lead the league in total shots faced and saved. Jackson’s strong performance and help to grow hockey on and off the ice led to her winning one of the NWHL’s fan-voted Three Stars Award and becoming Buffalo’s recipient for the NWHL Foundation Award.
Defender Emma Greco has also signed for her second season with the Toronto Six. The shutdown defender brings leadership to the Six alongside her ability to limit opponents’ chances. Before the Six, Greco also spent a season with the Connecticut Whale, helping provide experience to the expansion franchise.
Buffalo is off to a quick start to free agency, already signing three players while most other teams have yet to announce their first. Jackson joins Marie-Jo Pelletier as a returning Beauts player and Cassidy Vinkle, who will play her first NWHL season. Toronto isn’t far behind, with Greco joining Shiann Darkangelo as players the Six have signed for next season.
3. Off Ice: Metropolitan Riveters sold to John Boynton of BTM Partners, have press conference
The Metropolitan Riveters have new ownership, being sold from the league’s private ownership entity of W Hockey Partners to John Boynton and BTM Partners. Following the sale of the Connecticut Whale earlier this offseason, the league inches closer to its goal of a full joint venture model, with only the Buffalo Beauts and Minnesota Whitecaps left to be sold. The Riveters will join the Pride and the Six as teams owned by BTM Partners, although they are led by different members of the group. Boston is led by Miles Arnone, and Toronto is led by Johanna Boynton.
BTM Partners have also expressed interest in purchasing an expansion team in Montreal after the 2021-2022 season. However, a single ownership group holding more than one club isn’t the end goal for the NWHL, with their press release stating “A transitional period where ownership groups hold more than one club may occur as the league pursues its goal of a full joint venture ownership model with strong local franchises.” Journalist Mike Murphy reported that the plan is to eventually sell the teams later down the line, with BTM Partners only retaining ownership of one team.
In the same presser, Murphy reported that the Riveters’ minimum salary will be $7,500 and contracts won’t be over $30,000. General manager Anya Packer also confirmed the Riveters are open to signing transgender and/or nonbinary players, saying “There is no barrier for our organization other than we want the best people.”
4. On Ice: Team USA announces selection camp roster for 2022 Olympics
Team USA begins the mission to defend its gold medal. A 40 player roster was released this week for the Olympic selection camp running June 1 to June 6 in Minnesota. From this roster, 28 players will be selected to begin the centralization process in October, a residency training program that will help pick the final 23 player roster.
Fourteen members of the 2018 Gold Medal winning USA team have been invited to camp, including long-time Team USA members Kendall Coyne-Schofield, Hilary Knight, and Brianna Decker. However, the emphasis is on youth going into the 2022 Olympics. Cayla Barnes, a rookie in 2018 and still attending Boston College, will likely be given sole responsibility as the team’s top defender with Kacey Bellamy retired. Lacey Eden, Abbey Murphy, and Makenna Webster, who helped the U18 team win gold in 2020, have a shot at making the roster after just one year in college. Similar to Maddie Rooney in 2018, Aerin Frankel is the favorite to start in goal despite not being out of college yet. The ability to lean on the USA and NCAA development program and trust players under 25 with big roles is what helped the Olympic team win its last gold.
5. Off Ice: Robert Morris University will no longer host Women’s Hockey Division One Program
Both Robert Morris University’s division one Women’s and Men’s hockey teams will cease to exist in the fall. Seven freshmen have already committed to the women’s hockey program for the 2021-2022 season. In a press release, RMU stated “The university will honor all scholarships currently being received by the student-athletes whose sports are being discontinued and will assist those who wish to transfer.”
Robert Morris University has developed multiple NWHL players such as Maggie Lague (Whale) and Natalie Marcuzzi (Six). Other professional players include SDHL players Jaycee Gebhard and Sarah Lecavalier and the PWHPA’s Brittany Howard. 5.
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