Around the Rink in the PHF: Musical Chairs for Goalies, Beauts Camp, and More

Behold! the game of goalie musical chairs! Plus hear from Autumn MacDougall & Kayla Friesen, and an update on Beauts FA camp.

Welcome back to Around the Rink!

This past week the PHF passed 50 player signing announcements for Season 8 and there has been no shortage of things to talk about with how things have unfolded, that’s for sure! A large portion of those signings are players new to the league, which is fantastic to see. We have a lot to get to but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the support from all of our readers who click the link. Thanks as always to my teammates, and the players, as well as their families.

And here, we, go!

Point Shots

1* So with an influx of new players coming into the PHF, and there only being six teams with a maximum of 25 roster spots per team…admittedly, I’m not great at math. That’s why I majored in journalism. But it has become apparent in my conversations with players and some team employees that what is happening is there are not enough spots for the number of players interested in playing this season. Unfortunately, lots of familiar faces and names will likely be on the sidelines this season.

It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing. Some players who dedicated a few years of their lives, a few seasons of their career, won’t likely be playing in the PHF this season - for whatever reason. Whether they are replaced by players who are more skilled or not, this is the business side of hockey.

The silver lining in all of this - I think - is that it shows that the talent is there to not only add two more teams, but if everyone got on the same page there is plenty of room - and enough talent wanting to play - for two, six-team leagues, or conferences, or whatever you want to call it.

2* This past weekend the Buffalo Beauts held their annual Free Agent Camp/tryouts and had a whopping 32 unsigned players attend and they skated with two Beauts players signed for Season 8: Cassidy MacPherson and Courtney Maud. Four players who were scheduled to attend were no-shows. According to GM Nate Oliver, everyone in attendance met one (or more) of their four criteria: played professionally, for their country’s National Team, NCAA, or CIS.

Here is a list of who was in attendance, with the last team each player played for in parenthesis:

Goalies: Cassandra Goyette (Rivs), Jessica Strack (Whale), Tera Hofmann (Six), Camille Scherger (University of PEI), Meagan Johnston (Humber College/Brock University), Elisabeth Hill (Finlandia), Sarah Varga (Concordia University).

Defenders: Rebecca Morse (Whale), Megan Delay (HPK), Emma Titus (Ohio State), Kara Santoro (Nichols College), Megan Reukauf (Buffalo State), Sally Hoerr (Liberty), Chyne Kennedy (Oswego), Maryna Kobchuk (Ukrainian National Team), Mariah Hinds (ECDC Memmingen).

Forwards: Kate Fanning (PWHPA), Maddie Norton (Beauts), Romana Kosecka (Rivs), Iveta Klimášová (MAC Budapest), Melissa Robbins (Sacred Heart), Alicia Williams (ESC Planegg), Rachel de Perio (Union College), Madeline Moell (Norwich), Lunasa Sano (Harvard), Jordan Marchese (RIT), Kryshanda Green (Ryerson), Tori Davis (Concordia College), Kathryn Kennedy (MAC Budapest), Jennifer Costa (Maine) Natalie Wozney (Ontario Tech), Chisato Miyazaki (Seibu Princess Rabbits).

I wasn’t able to attend but you can check out my colleague’s perspective on the two-day session here: Beauts Notebook

I was able to find out a few things though, here’s what I’ve gathered: with today’s (June 22) announcement of their signing of netminder Kassidy Sauvé, the Beauts now have 15 players signed. They’ll likely be set for the season when they reach 21-22 and what they’re looking to add from this point in time is - two defenders, two-three forwards, and MAYBE a third goaltender. Two or three of those signings could be re-signings from last season’s squad, but that is yet to be determined. The hope is that they will have their roster completed by July 1 so that they can start focusing on building for next season.

2.1* With the signing of Sauvé in Buffalo, the game of goalie musical chairs lost another slot, and then another a few hours later when the Toronto Six officially inked Carly Jackson for Season 8. Jackson departs Buffalo and joins her hometown team after two seasons with the Beauts, and who knows, maybe some other Beauts will follow suit. Word is that Taylor Accursi, Buffalo’s franchise leader in points, and goals, is looking for a hockey home and she may end up with the Six as well, but as of now, nothing is done.

3* Speaking of goalies, last week the Metropolitan Riveters signed Finnish Olympian Evelina Makinen for Season 8 and at this point, it would seem unlikely that the team brings back any of their Season 7 netminders. In fact, the three returning players under contract currently (Madison Packer, Kendall Cornine, Kelly Babstock) might be the only returning Rivs from Season 7.

3.1* If you recall, in the last ATR we referenced a story that was told to us about the circumstances surrounding Anya Packer’s departure as GM from the Riveters. A representative for Packer reached out to us and wanted to clear something up.

‘She never made public her reasons for leaving; she has her reasons, but that wasn’t the why.’

4* It hasn’t been announced yet, but ATR was told that the Riveters have signed Connecticut Whale forward, and longtime NWHL/PHF veteran Kaycie Anderson. We also heard another team was in talks with her, but she ultimately chose to stay in the Tri-State area.

5* In case you missed it, Buffalo recently re-signed forward Autumn MacDougall and now Beauts - and PHF - fans everywhere can celebrate that signing with some hotttt new personalized merchandise that features her initials and number.

I asked MacDougall who designed the sharp logo and here’s what she told me. “The company actually suggested it. They sent me the logo they designed and asked if I wanted to change anything. But I thought it was super cool, so I kept that one! I can change my logo anytime,” she told ATR via text, “and I want to create one for our charity games this season - so all of the proceeds can go to the charity we are playing for.”

“I think it’s fantastic that gives female athletes a chance to promote our brand and get our name out there!! Hopefully, I see more people with AM9 merch this season.”

We all know the Beauts fanbase is some of the most dedicated and passionate in the PHF, in women’s hockey…so I think MacDougall may see that this season! Millions also support two other PHF players - Brittany Howard and Lexi Templeman of the Six.

6* New name, who dis? Congratulations are in order to both Kaleigh Fratkin and Jonna Curtis, both of whom got married within the last month. I hope you both had a memorable day and can’t wait to see you at the rink again.

7* Since the last ATR here are the returning players who have officially signed for Season 8. The Six have re-signed forward Emma Woods, and defender Saroya Tinker, and added Jackson as well. The Beauts re-signed MacDougall and Anjelica Diffendal, and the Whitecaps re-signed defender Patti Marshall. The Riveters re-signed Kelly Babstock and signed veteran Whale defender Taylor Marchin.

7.1* Here are the players who will be looking to make their PHF debuts in Season 8. The Whale signed Linkoping HC teammates Justine Reyes and Lenka Serdar, while the Rivs added Finnish National Team members Minttu Tuominen and Makinen. Buffalo signed Sauvé and Nazareth College forward Madi Nichols. The Whitecaps officially signed Denisa Křížová (which we reported a while back) and the Six signed Ohio State grad Lexi Templeman.

8* On June 14 Toronto named Hockey Hall-of-Famer Geraldine Heaney as their new head coach, and third in three seasons. She had a stellar, highly decorated career for Team Canada and was teammates with new Six GM Angela James during a lot of that success. So the two are now reunited in the PHF and looking to add some more trophies to their respective mantles.

9* Still no news from the two-time defending champion Boston Pride, but again ai assure you that they have been busy. It would appear that we are going to get a full roster drop again from the Pride - which I’m not a fan of for various reasons. We’ve all been trying to piece the puzzle of their roster together in a group effort and props to Spencer Fascetta for figuring out a large chunk of it in the Twitter thread below.

10* Boston defender Jenna Rheault, who will return for a fourth season, had a great reply when I asked if she was getting ready for a three-peat. “Omg, I hope. Technically, 4-peat!”

Whether it’s three in a row or four in a row, the Pride will be chasing history this season. Not many teams, in any sport, get a chance to chase what they - and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL - are currently chasing. It’s a pretty special thing, and you can bet it will be a storyline of Season 8. Can any of the other five teams knock Boston off the top of the PHF mountain? You’ll have to watch to find out. Or read The Ice Garden and watch!

11* I recently spoke with Kayla Friesen for a feature on TIG and here’s something that didn’t make the cut. I asked the Isobel Cup champion what she thought was the difference for her team from the regular season - where Boston lost five consecutive games in overtime to end the season - to the postseason where they won three games in four days.

“No doubt, we finished the season off pretty shaky, but the playoffs was a whole new season; we rallied behind that, and regrouped together. Our mission was: we’re going to win this thing and prove every team, every doubter wrong. It was pretty cool just feeling the energy shift from the regular season to playoffs,” said Friesen. “Honestly, I feel like we did a full 180 with who we were as a team, coming together, and supporting each other.”

So the energy was noticeably different in these playoff games?

“Absolutely. We knew we needed to regroup and we didn’t have a single doubt throughout the playoffs that we would win. When we were down a goal, our mentality didn’t change at all. Usually, when teams go down a goal or two you can see in their shoulders or faces that there is a bit of hesitation or defeat,” Friesen explained.

“When I looked to my right and my left on the bench and I didn’t see any of that. Seeing that confidence just exuding from everyone doesn’t allow you to have a shred of doubt. That was something I had never really been a part of before - it was awesome to see, and be a part of, and contribute in the way that I could.”

As of press time, Friesen is not signed for next season yet but would prefer to re-sign with Boston.

Notable Quotable

“When a team calls a timeout it can be a momentum shifter for them, but we knew we weren’t letting that happen. We used that timeout to rest up and keep rolling. It benefitted us. I think some teams would have sat back a little bit and countered what their opposition does. But we were going full throttle the whole way, no matter what.” — Kayla Friesen on the timeout that backfired for the Beauts in the opening game of the Isobel Cup Playoffs. Buffalo called timeout after a Pride goal made it 2-0, and then it was 3-0.

Notable Quotable 2

“I’m not gonna lie, it does feel pretty awesome. When I got to UConn the team was definitely rebuilding at that time, and all of us pride ourselves on hard work, grittiness, and showing up to the rink every day with that attitude of let’s get to work and get stuff done. Being on a line with Nora (Maclaine) when she got her first PHF goal (Nov. 7) was so satisfying and very exciting. — Theresa Knutson talks about her pride for the University of Connecticut, which had four alumnae in the PHF in Season 7.