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Behind the Glass: At the Four and Five Nations Breaks

The Four Nations break and Five Nations breaks have given us a first intermission for the NWHL and ZhHL seasons

Michelle Jay

Behind the Glass is our weekly column collecting stories, stats, trends, and thoughts from the world of professional women’s hockey.


NWHL

  • The NWHL has reached its Four Nations break, which means the league will be off the ice for the next two weekends.
  • With the Buffalo Beauts on a bye week, McKenna Brand took over the NWHL goal-scoring lead by potting her seventh goal of the season against the Riveters. Brooke Stacey is one goal behind Brand with two games in hand. Brand is also tied with teammate Jillian Dempsey for the league lead in points (13).
  • The Connecticut Whale had a 2-1 lead over the Minnesota Whitecaps with 10:33 left in the third period on Oct. 27th, but ended up losing the game when Jonna Curtis buried a late power play goal to put the Whitecaps up 3-2.
  • At the Four Nations break, Shannon Doyle (1 G, 5 A) and Amanda Boulier (1 G, 9 A) are the only two defenders in the league leading their respective teams in scoring. Boulier is also one of just four skaters with 10 or more points at the break.
  • For the second consecutive season, the Metropolitan Riveters have a rookie skater who has scored five goals before registering an assist. In 2018-19, Audra Richards — who signed with the Whitecaps during the offseason — had eight goals and zero assists; this year, Kendall Cornine has five goals in her first five NWHL games. It’s worth noting that it took Richards eight games to pot the fifth goal of her rookie season.
  • Through five games of the 2019-20 season, Grace Klienbach has four primary points for the Connecticut Whale. She had one primary point — a goal — in her first 13 NWHL games. Klienbach is Connecticut’s highest-scoring forward at the Four Nations break.
  • The goal of the weekend likely belongs to Kayla Meneghin, who beat Amanda Leveille on a Whale power play while getting hauled down. Meneghin now has two goals in her first three games of the season.

SDHL

  • Göteborg HC forward Emma Keenan scored a rare overtime penalty shot goal against MODO to give her team a 3-2 victory on Oct. 28. Keenan, 21, is in her rookie SDHL season. The Clarkson alumna has five goals in her first 16 games as a pro.
  • Luleå Hockey/MSSK star defender Ronja Savolainen had four primary points — a hat trick and a primary assist — in Luleå’s 6-1 rout of Göteborg on Tuesday. Jenni Hiirikoski — widely considered to be the best defender in the world — finally scored her first goal of the season in that game. She’s now up to 11 points through her first 12 games of the year.
  • HV71’s Kennedy Marchment has taken over the SDHL scoring lead after a big week. As of the writing of this article, Marchment has scored 13 goals and added 13 assists in 16 games. Her teammate Hanna Olsson, 20, is not far behind with 22 points through 16 GP.
  • Petra Nieminen, 20, already has 21 points in 13 games after scoring 24 points in 34 games with Luleå in her first year of SDHL hockey in 2018-19. She’s already eclipsed her assist total from last season and leads her team in scoring by a significant margin.
Nieminen’s magic hands.
Mike Murphy

ZhHL

  • The ZhHL has reached its five nations break, which means that each of its eight teams have played 14 games. Perhaps the biggest surprise from the first chapter of the 2019-20 season is Dynamo St. Petersburg’s record of 7-6-1 — good for fifth place (tied with SK Gorny) in the standings. Dynamo finished second in the league in points in 2018-19 and competed in the final against Agidel Ufa.
  • Despite Dynamo’s disappointing start, goaltender Valeria Merkusheva, 20, leads all goaltenders with an outstanding .937 Sv% which is all the more impressive because she’s also the leader in minutes played. Merkusheva is also one of six goalies in the league with six wins.
All-Star Game by Women’s Hockey League opens 2018 Week of Hockey Stars in Astana, Kazakhstan Photo by Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images
  • The most productive line in the league at the break is unsurprisingly Agidel’s trio of Olga Sosina, Alena Mills, and Yekaterina Lebedeva. Thus far, they’ve combined for 26 goals (all situations). Sosina’s 13 goals lead the league.
  • Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays’ superstar Alex Carpenter leads the league with 25 points in her first 14 games of ZhHL hockey. Carpenter has points on over half of Shenzhen’s goals and leads KRS in shots (87).
Carpenter with a sweet deflection goal scored against Dynamo.
Mike Murphy
  • SK Gorny’s Liana Ganeyeva is leading all defenders in scoring with two goals and 11 assists. Ganeyeva has 24 more shots than the league’s second-highest volume shooter among defenders (Anna Savonina).
  • Tornado’s Yekaterina Davletshina is just 15-years-old but already has three goals and two assists in her first 14 games of ZhHL hockey. She’s the youngest player to score a goal in the league this season.

All data courtesy of nwhl.zone, whl.khl.ru, stats.swehockey.se, EliteProspects.com, and the author’s own tracking.

Disclosure: The author of this story is currently employed by the NWHL.