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PHF Roster Recap: end of July

Boston finally starts announcing signings and an expansion team emerges!

Ann-Sophie Bettez during the Clarkson Cup Finals at Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa, on March 13, 2016.
MIchelle Jay

Don’t look now, but it’s August so let’s catch up on some more summer signings!

We’re now up to 87 signings and, more importantly, seven teams. That’s right, since our last PHF Roster Recap, the PHF expanded to Montreal. That means there will be at least 20 more players getting paid to play pro hockey in the PHF in the 2022-23 season.

Boston Pride

F: McKenna Brand, Becca Gilmore, Meghara McManus, Allie Thunstrom (2 yrs), Christina Putigna, Élizabeth Giguère

D: Kali Flanagan (2 yrs), Lauren Kelly

G: n/a

The Boston Pride are back in the business of announcing signings and they definitely got everyone’s attention in late July.

Brand, McManus, Flanagan, and Kelly have all re-signed. They are joined by former co-MVP of the league, Allie Thunstrom, who signed a two-year deal in Boston after being one of the best players in the world with the Minnesota Whitecaps. Thunstrom and Jillian Dempsey on the same line? Get ready, because it just might happen.

The Pride have also signed college stars Becca Gilmore and Élizabeth Giguère. One has to imagine that Giguère is an early favorite for Newcomer of the Year. She was just five points shy of finishing her collegiate career with 300 points in 177 GP — that’s an average of 1.67 Pts/GP during her time with Clarkson and UMD. This roster already looks preposterous and we only know six forwards and two defenders.

It’s also worth noting that Hockey Canada may have leaked that Corinne Schroeder signed with the Pride. So, we could see a different trio or duo in the crease for Boston. Lovisa Selander struggled last season but there’s more evidence of her being a star than there is of her being a lackluster 1B behind Katie Burt.

Buffalo Beauts

F: Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Courtney Maud, Jenna Suokko, Emma Nuutinen, Cassidy MacPherson, Claudia Kepler (2 yrs), Autumn MacDougall, Anjelica Diffendal, Madi Nichols, Grace Klienbach, Michaela Boyle, Summer-Rae Dobson (2 yrs)

D: Dominique Kremer (2 yrs), Jess Healey (2 yrs), Allison Attea, Antonia Matzka

G: Lovisa Berndtsson, Kassidy Sauvé

The Beauts brought back speedy veteran defensive forward Grace Klienbach and added two rookies in Michaela Boyle and Summer-Rae Dobson. That brings Buffalo up to 18 total signings: 12 forwards, four defenders, and two goalies.

The priority for Buffalo now has to be rounding out the blue line by potentially finding another defender who can compete for a spot on the second pairing. Another defender who can move the puck would be a welcome addition to this group. With that said, this Beauts team is just about complete and it’s clear that this group has more potential, skill, and depth than last year.

Connecticut Whale

F: Kennedy Marchment (2 yrs), Taylor Girard (2 yrs), Emma Vlasic, Amanda Conway, Caitrin Lonergan, Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Lenka Serdar, Justine Reyes,

D: Allie Munroe (2 yrs), Tori Howran, Hannah Bates

G: Abbie Ives

There’s been no action with the Whale since last we checked in. However, The Ice Garden’s Dan Rice has reported that Meeri Räisänen has been connected with the Whale.

Buckle up, Whale fans.

Metropolitan Riveters

F: Madison Packer (2 yrs), Kendall Cornine, Amanda Pelkey, Sarah Bujold, Reka Dabasi, Kelly Babstock, Kaycie Anderson, Kennedy Ganser,

D: Ebba Berglund, Taylor Marchin, Minttu Tuominen, Anna Kilponen, Emilie Harley, Sarah Forster

G: Eveliina Mäkinen, Rachel McQuigge

It’s official. This new-look Riveters team has me excited about what this team can do again.

Thus far, this roster is filled with sneaky-good signings like Kaycie Anderson, Kennedy Ganser, and pretty much the entire blue line. There’s scoring here, there’s goaltending, and there’s a deep, talented blue line with significant international experience. There’s a lot to like.

This isn’t the ‘let’s hope Madison Packer can will us to a win’ Riveters anymore. This is the united nations of hockey under Venla Hovi and Ivo Mocek. This is an intriguing group.

Based on what we’re seeing on other rosters around the league, I still think the Rivs could use another top-line talent to truly have two lines that can score. I’d also like to see the Rivs look for potential and speed over role players for the bottom-six like they have in recent years. Depth, especially scoring depth, is sometimes what separates good teams from great ones.

Minnesota Whitecaps

F: Sydney Brodt, Ashleigh Brykaliuk (2 yrs), Jonna Curtis, Denisa Křížová, Liz Schepers, Natalie Snodgrass, Brittyn Fleming, Ronja Mogren

D: Sidney Morin (2 yrs), Sydney Baldwin (2 yrs), Patti Marshall, Olivia Knowles

G: Amanda Leveille

Hey! The Lev signing is official! And hey, the 2022-23 Whitecaps may only have five players who were on last season’s team. So, that’s something.

New to the mix are forwards Liz Schepers, Natalie Snodgrass, Brittyn Fleming, and Swede Ronja Mogren. Schepers, Snodgrass, and Fleming were college stars who should make an immediate impact for the Whitecaps. All three of them averaged at least 0.71 Pts/GP in NCAA D1 play and should help replace the scoring punch Minnesota has lost with the departures of Thunstrom, Audra Morrison, and others.

On paper, Mogren is the first forward signing that feels like a role player as opposed to a featured weapon for the new-look Whitecaps. There are still holes to fill on this roster and much of it has to do with finding depth to compliment new stars with whatever cap space Minnesota has left.

Minnesota should not wait too long to find a strong backup to support Lev. They also need a few more bodies to round out the blue line.

Montreal

F: Sarah Lefort, Kristina Shanahan, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Kim Deschênes, Jade Downie-Landry, Alexandra Labelle

D: Brigitte Laganière

G: n/a

Now, this is how you get things rolling for an expansion team.

Montreal’s first seven signings are all about offensive firepower. Lefort, Bettez, Deschênes, and Labelle are veterans who can fill key roles in this new team’s scoring lines. Shanahan and Downie-Landry will be fresh faces to the post-collegiate game but it’s important to remember that Downie-Landry is an atypical rookie forward.

Downie-Landry played her freshman season at McGill in 2016-17 and she’ll be 27 by the time her first pro season begins. This is a player who is in her prime but just beginning her pro career — she had 14 goals and 13 assists in 15 GP last season as a dominant force in USports. Averaging 1.18 Pts/GP in her collegiate career makes her a player to watch for Montreal’s PHF club. It will be hard to set expectations for her production as a PHF newcomer until we see the rest of this lineup, but if you’re looking for a new face to get excited about Downie-Landry should be on your radar.

Toronto Six

F: Shiann Darkangelo, Brittany Howard, Lexi Templeman, Emma Woods, Breanne Wilson-Bennett

D: Taylor Davison, Taylor Woods, Saroya Tinker, Lindsay Eastwood, Emma Greco, Kati Tabin

G: Elaine Chuli, Carly Jackson

Since last we checked in with the Six, they’ve added three more blueliners to bring their total to six. In other words, we are looking at one of the two blue lines in the PHF that look ready for game one of the 2022-23 season.

The biggest name of this bunch has to be Lindsay Eastwood, who has the goods to be an All-Star. A big blueliner who logged big minutes for Toronto in its first two seasons, Eastwood is an impact player in both the defensive and offensive zones. She can play in any situation and could flourish under the tutelage and guidance of Geraldine Heaney. With her back in the mix, this defense should have just as much size and skill as it did last campaign.

Also returning to the team is veteran Emma Greco, who did not play with the Six last season after being on the debut roster for Lake Placid. She brings experience and (more) size to the blue line as a left-hand shot. The newest face on Toronto’s defense is Kati Tabin who, like Greco, began her NWHL/PHF career with the Connecticut Whale. Tabin is still searching for her first point as a pro but she fit right in on a highly-skilled Whale roster early last season before parting ways with the pod.