Welcome back to Around the Rink!
We are almost a month into the official opening of free agency in the PHF and it’s starting to feel like every day there could be some sort of announcement! I’m sure everyone out there is refreshing their Twitter feeds for new info. Once again, thanks to all of the readers who have been along on this journey, and especially thank you to my teammates, the players, and the team staff who are always so helpful.
And here, we, go!
1* Congratulations to all of the Season 7 PHF award winners and nominees. Especially the Connecticut Whale, who won their first on-ice awards in franchise history. It was great to finally see the players rewarded for their performances, even if it was two months after the season had ended.
Full disclosure, I abstained from voting this time around, and here’s why.
For starters, this should have been done at most, two weeks after the season ended. Once the PHF finally got around to organizing it all (it’s not like solving the Pythagorean theory at all) we were given a list of candidates to select from, as chosen by the six teams. Sorry, but like Hall and Oates once sang, ‘I can’t go for that.’
You’re telling me that Mikyla Grant-Mentis wasn’t selected as an MVP candidate by the Toronto Six, four days after she had signed with the Buffalo Beauts? Holy Petty White!
Who out there doesn’t think that MGM would have been her team’s choice right after the season ended? Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they wouldn’t have picked her. If it had been Elaine Chuli they nominated, maybe I’m not writing this. Shiann Darkangelo is a great player, and in no way am I trying to disrespect her - but I’m not certain that anyone out there would have chosen her without the parameters provided.
I digress. I take a lot of pride in what I do and voting in these types of things. But I also believe it should be our choices, not a hand-picked list from the league or teams, otherwise, what are our votes really worth? Also, in talking with some players - how much weight do these awards really carry without an actual physical trophy or plaque? Or monetary reward? I mean, Buffalo was able to present their team award winners with plaques prior to their home/season finale; you’re telling me the PHF is digging in the couch for change to do something like that and can’t use some of the $25 million that will be invested?
2* Here is what my ballot would have looked like had I voted on the four major awards, and I added a few others that I think should have been included.
1. Kennedy Marchment (CTW)
2. Mikyla Grant-Mentis (T6)
3. Amanda Leveille (MIN)
4. Elaine Chuli (T6)
5. Jonna Curtis (MIN)
Defender of the Year:
1a. Taylor Woods (T6)
1b. Allie Munroe (CTW)
3. Shannon Turner (CTW)
4. Dominique Kremer (BUF)
5. Kristen Barbara (MET)
Goaltender of the Year:
1. Elaine Chuli (T6)
2. Katie Burt (BOS)
3. Amanda Leveille (MIN)
Newcomer of the Year:
1. Kennedy Marchment (CTW)
2. Taylor Girard (CTW)
3. Evelina Raselli (BOS)
4. Stephanie Sucharda (T6)
5. Allie Munroe (CTW)
Rookie of the Year:
1. Taylor Girard (CTW)
2. Stephanie Sucharda (T6)
3. Kennedy Ganser (BUF)
4. Emilie Harley (BUF)
Most Improved Player:
1. Dominique Kremer (BUF)
2. Mariah Fujimagari (CTW)
3. Amanda Conway (CTW)
4. Taylor Wenczkowski (BOS)
Coach of the Year:
1. Colton Orr (CTW)
2. Mark Joslin (T6)
3. Paul Mara (BOS)
Denna Laing Award:
1. Mariah Fujimagari (CTW)
2. Elena Orlando (BUF)
3. Kiira Dosdall-Arena (MET)
How’d I do? Feel free to yell at me and insult me on social media!
3* Since we last got together I was informed that my report of an expansion team in Providence for Season 8 was inaccurate and that the ownership group of the Connecticut Whale is not involved but rather focused on building their team for Season 8.
So if it’s not Providence then it’s where? No clue. All is quiet on that front.
But the really, really odd part about it all is that there are two alleged teams that haven’t yet been announced (locations, GMs, Head Coaches, etc) and we have had 17 players signing announcements across four teams and a plethora of other signings that have yet to be officially announced. Never a dull moment.
4* Here’s who has signed and what we’ve heard is happening since the last ATR - and as a reminder, you can keep track of every single signing in the PHF this off-season by checking out The Ice Garden’s Season 8 Signing Tracker - so bookmark this thingy.
5* The Buffalo Beauts re-signed goaltender Lovisa Berndtsson and defender Allison Attea to one-year contracts; both players made their PHF debuts last season and Attea was drafted 19th overall in the 2021 Draft. Buffalo also came to terms with forward Courtney Maud, who just completed a five-season career at Merrimack College and was a senior captain. Including those three, the Beauts now have six players signed for the upcoming season.
5.1* We’re curious and definitely excited, to see more from Berndtsson, who appeared in seven games for Buffalo - highlighted by the 39-save performance she turned in against Boston in late February - and was still recovering from double hip surgery. Could she be the no. 1 netminder that the Beauts are in search of? Those discussions are likely being had or have been had. Just something to ponder with her as the first goalie back in Buffalo.
The Beauts will be holding a tryout camp on June 18-19 in Buffalo, New York.
NEWS!!!— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) April 14, 2022
The #Beauts annual tryouts/free agent camp will be held the weekend of June 18th and 19th at the Northtown Center! This is your opportunity to tryout for our 2022-23 roster!
Interested players can apply to attend here: https://t.co/6USq9sqNUV #FortBeaut #PHF pic.twitter.com/OmAmGVKepR
6* All quiet in Boston thus far regarding signing announcements, but the champs have been hard at work. As we reported in the last ATR the Pride landed a big fish - reeling in and luring Allie Thunstrom away from Minnesota, for not one but two years. We learned that they’ve also landed one of the top collegiate players in 2020 Patty Kai winner Élizabeth Giguère from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She also played four seasons at Clarkson and finished her collegiate career with 295 points in 177 games.
To be the champ, you gotta beat the champ…and it ain’t gonna be easy!
We’d be surprised if the core of the champs doesn’t return (Dempsey, Brand, Fratkin, Wenczkowski, etc), but also keep in mind that no team is exactly the same two years in a row and that will be the case when we see the Boston Pride roster on the opening night of Season 8.
6.1* Like the Pride, the Connecticut Whale have yet to announce any signings, but they did announce that GM Alexis Moed’s contract has been extended for one season, and Head Coach Colton Orr’s has been extended for the next two seasons. This past season, Orr led the franchise to new highs as the Whale finished first overall for the first time in team history (15-3-2) as well as advancing to the Isobel Cup Final for the first time. Over three seasons his record is now 19-25-4.
We’d expect the Whale’s first announced signings would include players like reigning MVP Kennedy Marchment, defenders Allie Munroe & Shannon Turner, and goaltender Abbie Ives. I also believe they’ve been connected to Caitrin Lonergan from Clarkson University.
Wow!What a ride!! These years have no doubt been the best years of my life. Thank you @ClarksonWHockey for giving me the best coaches, teammates and friends I could ever have asked for. There is so much love inside the CGK locker room and I am so blessed to have been part of it. pic.twitter.com/BmiNotTjXw— Caitrin Lonergan (@lonergan14) May 20, 2022
8* The Metropolitan Riveters signed three more players, each with a bunch of international experience - defender Ebba Berglund, and forwards Sarah Bujold and Reka Dabasi. All three were announced as one-year deals.
Berglund has played on Sweden’s National Team and multiple seasons in the SDHL where she was most recently teammates with Bujold on HV71. Dabasi has played on Hungary’s National Team, and was selected by the Six in last summer’s International Draft, but never signed with them.
The Riveters will be holding a tryout camp on June 4 in Newark, New Jersey.
After the first NWHL season the Rivs found Alexa the Great (Gruschow) at a FA camp in Newark.— Dan Rice (@DRiceHockey) May 12, 2022
After the third NWHL season she was named MVP & had the only goal in a 1-0 Isobel Cup Final. https://t.co/WdHcL4GsAm
9* The Toronto Six signed one player since the last ATR, re-signing defender Taylor Davison for Season 8 after she played in every game and was an All-Star selection during her rookie season for the Six. Toronto selected her fifth overall in the 2021 Draft and she had four points (1g-3a).
9.1* The Minnesota Whitecaps have yet to announce it, but they (finally) did come to terms with Jonna Curtis last week (congrats on your upcoming wedding Jonna!) and they’ve also inked (former Pride forward) Denisa Křížová, who was at their tryouts in early May. The Whitecaps officially announced the signing of defender Sidney Morin (something we told you was about to happen) for the next two seasons as well as forward Sydney Brodt for the upcoming Season 8.
It was a little awkward, to be honest, that they also announced Morin would be wearing no. 5, which is the number that Captain and living legend Winny Brodt-Brown had been wearing. Oh, the Whitecaps have some other Sydney signings on the way…which you’ll have to listen to our little podcast to find out.
Word is that Minnesota will have another tryout on June 4.
10* They’re Collecting Sydneys! Is the title of PHFuture Considerations episode 7, and it’s live for you to listen to! Eleni, Mike, and I discussed all of the official signings (through May 16) and some of the rumors and other signings that have/had yet to be announced.
PHFuture Considerations Episode 7: Off season madness and its barely the offseason! https://t.co/C22co4QuPZ— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) May 18, 2022
Thank you so much to everyone who has listened, given us feedback, downloaded an episode, subscribed, given us a five-star rating, and messaged us to let us know how we are doing. Hopefully, we can continue to entertain you and get better at this endeavor as we do more of them. I’ve already lined up a bunch of guests for future episodes, and can’t wait to talk with them about their stories.
11* Some names we’re keeping an eye on to see where they land this off-season. Maybe they stay with the team they most recently played on, maybe they don’t, but either way, I’m curious to see if/when and where they sign (in no particular order). Taylor Turnquist, Amanda Boulier, Theresa Knutson, Mallory Rushton, Tera Hofmann, Emily Fluke, Christina Putigna, Rachael Ade, Cailey Hutchison, Cassidy Vinkle, Kayla Friesen, Lexie Laing, Kali Flanagan, Meaghan Pezon, and Melissa Samoskevich. To name a few. Should be fun times during the next two-three months.