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PHF Preview: Whale vs Six, Marchment vs Cava

Former SDHL foes squaring off against each other once more in Toronto

A Whale and Six game in Lake Placid.
Michelle Jay

The last time Michela Cava and Kennedy Marchment saw each other on the ice was November 28th, 2020. Luleå took down HV 71 in a tight 2-1 SDHL showdown. Marchment had a secondary assist on HV 71’s only goal. Cava had the primary helper on the third period game-winner.

They’ll be back on opposite sides of one another almost a year to the day later and an ocean away from their last meeting ground.

SDHL Superstars

Both Cava and Marchment arrived to their respective Premier Hockey Federation teams as heralded free agent acquisitions. Cava finished third in SDHL scoring last season, posting 29 goals and 37 assists for Luleå. Six points ahead of her in the scoring race? Kennedy Marchment, with 28 goals and 44 assists for HV 71.

The two have crossed paths a number of times over three seasons in Sweden. In Marchment’s rookie season in 2018-19, she finished sixth in league scoring with 52 points in 36 games. Cava was the league’s top scorer with 64 points. The next year, Marchment upped her game and earned 64 points herself, the second-best point total in the league. Cava’s production dipped, recording 45 points and finishing 9th-best in the SDHL.

Now here they are, ready to light the North American pro scene on fire. Marchment is currently tied for the Connecticut lead in scoring with two goals and three assists through five games. The Six have not seen as much action to start the season, but Cava did manage to score in her first and only game with Toronto- a one-timer with a minute left in regulation to give the Six a win.

Sweet Home Toronto

Toronto will finally get to host a home game with fans after over a year of waiting. In the interest of hooking a still-new fanbase, the team has announced tickets are complimentary for opening night.

The Six surprised many last season by emerging as a league powerhouse in their inaugural season. Mikyla Grant-Mentis burst onto the scene in her first full campaign, racking up five goals and four assists in six Lake Placid games. This season looks like more of the same out of MGM, as she dished out three assists in the season opener against Buffalo- a 4-3 win for Toronto in which four different goal-scorers found the back of the net.

Elaine Chuli stopped 17 of 20 in her first start. Chuli has significant competition in the crease this season, with Samantha Ridgewell back with the Six and Tera Hofmann signing in free agency from the Riveters. Despite her standout performance at Lake Placid garnering a 4-1-0 record, the number one job is far from a guarantee. They’ll need a strong sophomore season to get where they want to go in the Isobel Cup Playoffs.

To have your first season played in front of an empty stadium in a different country is obviously a unique circumstance. To finally be able to play in the confines of Canlan Sports-York University in front of 1,000-plus fans will be a major boon to this squad.

A Whale of a start

The Connecticut Whale beat the Boston Pride in regulation last weekend. For frame of reference, it’s just the sixth time the Whale bested Boston. Like, ever. And it’s just the second time since 2018, with the other occasion coming back in Lake Placid.

For essentially Connecticut’s entire existence, they barely put up a fight against the Big Bad Pride. Sure, they had three wins in 2017-18 against Boston including a fun shootout victory that served as a high point for the season, but the trajectory of the two franchises have been polar opposites: the Pride always a powerhouse, the Whale always the doormat on which the Pride wipe their feet.

Not so anymore. Well, the Pride are still a powerhouse, but the Whale are looking like one too. Alyssa Wohlfeiler has opened the season with four goals in four games and looks like a freight train on the puck. Marchment and first-overall pick Taylor Girard are the team leaders in shots-on-goal, both averaging over three a game. They even found a way to win a 6-5 scorefest against Metropolitan with their backup netminder in goal; Connecticut doesn’t win 6-5 games very often. They don’t score six often, period.

This could be more of a run-and-gun style game than we’re used to seeing out of the Whale.

How to watch

Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis in Toronto on Saturday and buy-one, get-one on Sunday. Puck drop is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. EST. Live coverage of Saturday’s contest will be featured on Twitch and ESPN+. Sunday’s game will also be broadcast on TSN in Canada.