Around the Rink in the PHF: We Talkin’ Bout Practice (Games)

The games are afoot! Hear from some Rivs and Beauts after their preseason game at American Dream, plus news & notes from around the PHF.

Welcome back to Around the Rink!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like hockey season. I was finally able to attend a game, do some in-person interviews, see some familiar faces, meet some new faces, and transcribe a bunch of interviews. The season is so close, I can almost smell the sweaty, stinky hockey equipment from here! Thanks to all of our readers at The Ice Garden, and thanks as always to my teammates, the players, and the coaches.

I may do one more of these before the season starts, and I may not. But once the season starts, every weekend that there is at least one game I’ll post a new ATR the following Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

And here, we, go!

Point Shots

1* I meant to add this in the last ATR, but congratulations to Minnesota Whitecaps defender Sidney Morin, as well as her Head Coach Ronda Engelhardt, on their new roles as professional scouts for the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators, respectively. If their duties are anything like the regional pro scouts that I sit alongside in the New Jersey Devils press box, then they should have no issue balancing those jobs with their jobs with the Whitecaps.

1.1* Also stick taps to former Boston Pride player Sydney Daniels, who was hired as a college scout for the Winnipeg Jets, as well as former Connecticut Whale player/coach/assistant GM/interim GM Laura Brennan (yes, she did it all) and former Pride player Alyssa Gagliardi who are both participating in the Boston Bruins Diversity and Inclusion Scouting Mentorship Program. Former Whale player and Pride Assistant Coach, and current Northeastern Assistant Coach Lindsay Berman participated in the same program with the Devils this past season.

1.2* Gagliardi was also recently hired by the ECHL’s Maine Mariners (a Boston Bruins affiliate) as their Skill Development Coach. Great hire by them, Gags is a great person who has really worked at growing the game through multiple avenues.

2* More congrats, this time to former Metropolitan Riveters Head Coach Chad Wiseman who was promoted to the same position with the OHL’s Guelph Storm earlier this month. Wiseman was the franchise’s first bench boss and remains the only coach to lead the Rivs to a championship. I hadn’t spoken to him in a while (probably pre-covid) but sent him a congratulatory email, and less than 24 hours later he replied to say thanks, and that he and his family are doing well. Here’s hoping the Storm have a great season.

3* Preseason games are well underway, and as we sit here on the onset of Season 8 I can’t help but wonder why PHF teams are still playing collegiate teams for exhibitions. It feels like a no-win situation for the pros: win the game, well you’re supposed to; lose the game, how could you?

How about this as a solution: each team plays one preseason game against each of the other teams (this season it would be six games apiece), alternating home games each year. Now your team is playing and measuring itself against its true competition, and possibly building some strong team bonds during road trips as well. And yes, pay the players for these games and make it a part of their salaries. If you really wanna get loco, have exhibitions against the PWHPA. But that’s crazy talk, right?

4* Unfortunately, Boston defender Lauren Kelly suffered a serious lower-body injury in one of the Pride’s exhibition games and will miss a good portion of the upcoming season. Really hate to hear that news, Kelly is one of the best defensive defenders in the PHF and if you don’t believe me, she owns two championship rings to back that statement up. Everyone at The Ice Garden would like to wish Lauren all the best in her recovery. If any fans want to send her messages, pictures, or notes of encouragement, shoot me an email at or DM me on twitter (@DRiceHockey) and I’ll print them out and be sure to pass them along to her or her Pride teammates when I cross paths with them this season.

4.1* We previously reported in this space that Boston had re-signed goaltender Katie Burt, but we have since been informed she is not a part of their plans for Season 8. If I had to guess, and this is just my opinion — it likely was a situation where they couldn’t make the math work with a respectable salary (which she has certainly earned). The timing, to put it bluntly, sucks for Burt with the music no longer playing in the game of goalie musical chairs and no spots open for her.

4.2* Multiple sources confirmed to ATR that forward Becca Gilmore, who would have been making her PHF debut this season, is no longer with the Pride. I believe it was just a scenario where she wouldn’t be able to make the proper time commitments. Related to that, it appears that forward (and 2x Cup winner) Mary Parker is back with Boston. She played in their exhibition loss to the Metropolitan Riveters wearing a no. 15 jersey with no nameplate; 15 was the number that Gilmore was slated to wear.

5* I was thrilled to see a live game in person again last Friday, as I ventured over to the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey for the first of two Buffalo-Riveters preseason games. Preseason is always a mixed bag, you don’t want to see anyone get injured, but you also want to see where the level of intensity is at.

Now, this wasn’t your usual rock ‘em, sock ‘em Beauts-Rivs game, but there were definitely penalties, and power plays (of all varieties), and the Riveters won the game 5-1 (and the next day as well, 2-0). Below is a thread of pictures & gifs I took throughout the night.

It was interesting, having the game being played in the middle of a mall. There was a decent amount of foot traffic, but no one really stayed longer than ten minutes unless they were there for the specific reason to see the game. For myself, it was great to be rink-side again and able to watch these fantastic athletes playing hockey. There was no goal horn, which I wondered about going off in the middle of a shopping mall. I wonder what it all will be like for the regular season home opener on Nov. 19.

5.1* Friday night, Kassidy Sauvé made her PHF debut in Beauts’ blue, and regardless of what the score was, I thought she played pretty well behind a new group. Here’s what she had to say afterward.

“I think in the first period I had to shake off some jitters, but after that, as the game went on I felt more confident and comfortable,” said the new Beauts’ netminder. “Obviously, this was our first game together as a team. We are still getting used to each other on the ice and working through some kinks in our game, it’s what we need to do at this point.”

And what did she think about playing a game in possibly the most unique rink for a pro team ever? “It was hot, very hot,” she said cracking a smile and laughing. “I feel like for anyone that suffers from ADHD, there is a lot going on here. Once I settled into the game, it wasn’t too bad. I think once you are on the ice that’s all you see. It was a cool experience, I’ve never played in a mall before,” Sauvé added with a chuckle, “so I guess check that off the bucket list.”

I’ll have much more from Sauvé and her netminding partner Lovisa Berndtsson in a pair of future features here at TIG!

6* In case you missed it, PHF stars Carly Jackson (Toronto Six) and Madison Packer (Rivs) have partnered with MeiGray for the upcoming season and fans will have the opportunity to bid on and buy exclusive, authentic game-used equipment, as first reported by yours truly for The Ice Garden. As I mentioned in the article, as a fan of goalies it would be awesome to be able to display an authentic goalie mask in my home. Some lucky person might just have that chance this season. Kudos to MeiGray for continuing to support the PHF and its players for a number of years now.

7* The Connecticut Whale roster is finally complete, and woo-boy are they gonna be a handful this season. As we first reported in September, Tori Sullivan traded in black and gold for blue and green officially and the team also (finally) announced the re-signing of their defender, captain, and NWHL OG Shannon Turner.

Buried in the Sept. 29 announcement that Kennedy Marchment and Allie Munroe will be representing the Whale as guest coaches with the New York Islanders Girls Elite Hockey during this upcoming season was the news that Jessica Strack will be back with the Pod as their third goaltender for a second straight season. Congrats, Jess!

7.1* Here’s a story that had a good ending (finally). Last season, on their final road trip before the playoffs, Whitecaps goalie Jenna Brenneman had her sticks lost during a flight home from New Jersey.

Well, seven months later Brenneman and her sticks will be reunited thanks to Kaylee Herndon, who works for the Connecticut Whale, and a random PA governor!

8* ATR has learned that the Whitecaps have added two practice players recently: forward Olivia Kilberg (Vermont), and netminder Chantal Burke (Penn State/Minnesota Mankato).

8.1* What’s in a number? You may recognize some of the Whitecaps jersey numbers this season, but the names associated with those numbers likely won’t be the ones you recalled seeing in a Minnesota jersey.

Last season              This season

#5 Winny Brodt Brown   #5 Sidney Morin

#8 Taylor Turnquist       #8 Natalie Snodgrass

#9 Allie Thunstrom       #9 Sydney Baldwin

#10 Brooke White Lancette #10 Ronja Mogren

#11 Lisa Martinson          #11 Brittyn Fleming

#14 Alex Woken          #14 Sydney Brodt

#19 Haley Mack          #19 Anna Klein

#21 Audra Morrison     #21 Liz Schepers

With all due respect to Sidney Morin and Ronja Mogren, in my personal opinion no. 5 & no. 10 should have been retired or at least given a year off by the franchise to honor both Brodt Brown and White Lancette. No one else has meant as much to Minnesota hockey as those two original Whitecaps.

8.2* Other notable, new numbers throughout the league include: Mikyla Grant-Mentis is wearing no. 59 this season with Buffalo (she wore no. 13 with Toronto), Mallory Souliotis is wearing no. 74 with Connecticut (she wore no. 47 with Boston), Allie Thunstrom is wearing no. 9 with Boston (which she wore in Minnesota, and was worn by Tori Sullivan in Boston), Sullivan is wearing no. 9 in Connecticut, which was worn by Kaycie Anderson (who’s now wearing no. 9 for the Riveters), Leah Marino is wearing no. 28 for the Riveters (she wore no. 12 with Toronto), Catherine Crawley is wearing no. 97 for the Riveters (she wore the same number in Connecticut, which is now being worn by Caitrin Lonergan), Meeri Räisänen is now wearing no. 81 for the Whale (she wore no. 18 in her previous stint with the Whale, which is currently Hannah Bates’ number), and Tereza Vanišová is wearing no. 21 with the Six (she wore no. 73 with Boston).

9* It appears that the Montreal Force’s inaugural roster is now complete after the announcement of five more signings, bringing their total to 21. On October 12 they announced the following players had inked one-year deals: forwards Maude Gélinas, Deziray De Sousa, and Laura Jardin, as well as defenders Gabrielle De Serres and Sally Hoerr.

Of the five, only Gélinas previously played in the CWHL, alongside Force inaugural team members Ann-Sophie Bettez, Catherine Daoust, Sarah Lefort, Kim Deschênes, and Marie-Soleil Deschênes for Les Canadiennes.

10* Next weekend (Oct. 23) the Force will make their official debut in the first-ever preseason game when they travel to the University of Vermont for a game against the two-time defending champion Pride. Way to welcome them to the PHF! Hah. But seriously, this is a cool event that I wish I could find a way to get to and that maybe teams should consider doing more (playing exhibitions in a college rink).

The legendary Jessica Koizumi, who scored the first-ever goal in the NWHL and is currently the Associate Head Coach for the Catamounts, coached two of Montreal’s players — Kristina Shanahan and Alyssa Holmes.

11* Taylor Accursi gave an update on her future earlier today via social media, releasing a statement on why she isn’t back with Buffalo for this season. Perhaps we have not seen the last of no. 95, and maybe some team will make a splash to add a bonafide goalscorer for a playoff push.

12* Keep your eyes peeled for a new PHFuture Considerations Podcast dropping soon. We just finished recording the Nova Scotia Special and had two All-Star guests - Connecticut defender Allie Munroe and Toronto goaltender Carly Jackson. They really set the bar high for future guests! Plus, I reveal where I believe the neutral site/Connecticut home game will be.

Notable Quotable

“I come from a town of about 2500 people, with no stop lights. So the traffic is hard to get used to. My parents just drove my vehicle down here, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not haha, that I’ll be behind the wheel. It took them 36 hours to get here, they’re the real MVPs; they did a 20-hour day and then a 16-hour day. They can stay for both games this weekend before flying home on Sunday.” — new Riveters forward Kennedy Ganser on adjusting to living in the NYC-NJ area after growing up in Provost, Alberta.

Notable Quotable II

“I would say maybe there are some small differences, like, I feel more confident than usual. I do feel, I don’t want to say pressure per se, but the expectation to lead the team now, to be level-headed, things like that. I think players are looking to me more (now); I want to be that steady player, that steady leader. It’s all good changes though. I talk when I feel I need to, but I don’t want to do it too much; then it loses value. The girls have all been great, and super receptive, which makes my job a lot easier haha! There are a lot of girls, not just me, who are leaders on this team.” — new Beauts captain Dominique Kremer (after her first game with the C on her chest) on taking on a new role.

Last, But Not Least

Some of you know, but maybe not everyone does. Our leader, and our friend Michelle Jay has left The Ice Garden after running the site for the past five years to take a job with the Boston Pride. Not only is MJ a top-notch photographer (and podcast editor), but she’s an All-Star person and someone who I am glad I can call a friend.

I just wanted to thank her here, in front of all of you, for throwing me a life vest a little over a year ago when I found myself unexpectedly looking for a new writing home. The belief and confidence she showed in myself and my abilities to do cool things like this column, and our podcast mean the world to me. Hopefully, we make her proud as we move TIG forward into a new era without her. Thanks, for everything MJ!