We’re about a month away from the Isobel Cup Playoffs—here’s where each team stands.
It seems like just yesterday that the Premier Hockey Federation season kicked off in November. Through COVID pauses, league expansion announcements, elite performances, and major upsets, the six teams in this league have created separation and have emerged as unique personalities along the way. If we’ve learned anything from NWHL seasons of the past, it’s that this thing is far from settled—but the end of the line is just around the corner.
The Premier Hockey Federation today unveiled the logo for the 2022 Isobel Cup Playoffs, where all six PHF teams will compete for the top prize in professional women’s hockey March 25-28.— PHF (@PHF) March 1, 2022
👑 | https://t.co/HhJjjsyKHL
🎨: @ElliotGerard, @HeartlentGroup pic.twitter.com/7qfBVQ4WVt
The Isobel Cup will be awarded in just one month on March 28. While every team will make the trip to Tampa, Florida to compete for some hardware, not everyone will have the same footing. There are two, maybe three elite teams so far in the PHF: Toronto, Connecticut, and maybe Boston. While everything points to those three as frontrunners for the cup, nothing is certain. Let’s take a quick look at where every team stands with just three weekends of PHF action remaining.
What a great week for Riveters social initiatives, and what a terrible month for Riveters hockey. Metropolitan has lost four of their last six games, doing little to build momentum following the All-Star game. Honestly, the Rivs aren’t too far away from being a top-half team in the PHF. Metropolitan possesses star power and depth similar to teams like Boston. One look at their team plus/minus reveals they aren’t getting beaten badly. After all, they have 11 losses in total this season and half of those came by only one goal. The Rivs are keeping games close but just can’t tie it up and get a game to overtime. Their failure to pick up valuable points looks like it will bite them in the behind come the end of March.
In non-hockey news, the Riveters continue to make waves in the community. On back-to-back days, Metropolitan dressed in alternate jerseys for Black History Month and Pride Day. For Black History Month, Metropolitan transformed their logo into Black Rosie in a move aimed at providing representation for people of color in women’s hockey. It got fantastic attention on social media, with ESPN even tweeting out the alternate logo used in-game. Regardless of hockey results, it’s lovely to see the Riveters making more people feel included in the hockey world.
Currently 5th in the PHF standings, Minnesota looks firmly stuck in the mud. The Whitecaps lack a consistent identity and just consistency in general. I like the team they have built around Allie Thunstrom, who if not for Mikyla Grant-Mentis would be a legitimate MVP candidate. The issue with the Whitecaps is I can never get a read on them.
I’ve written briefly about how confusing they are before, but Minnesota just can’t shake this identity. A team as talented as the Whitecaps could absolutely get hot in March and win three straight games to take the Isobel Cup, but will they? I’ll go out on a limb and say Minnesota is the third-most-talented team in the PHF, and they absolutely could win it all if they finally put the pieces together in the last month of the season. Needless to say I’m not selling my Minnesota stock just yet,but the turnaround needs to happen soon.
Look, in reality this team is still last in the PHF in the standings. In fact, they’re last in goals for, goals against, points, and goals differential. Regardless, this is a power rankings article and that means we’re talking about how these teams line up right now rather than their records. At this very moment, the Buffalo Beauts are absolutely playing better hockey than Minnesota and Metropolitan. Buffalo has not been swept in over a month, and even beat the high and mighty Toronto. They continue to show fight in every game despite their grim performance this season.
I admire how Buffalo has kept their heads up. It’s normal to see one team labeled as the league’s punching bag who everyone steamrolls throughout the year. Despite their slow start, Buffalo has continued to have fun on and off the ice. Just looking at Twitter during their horrible season shows they won’t let losing ruin their good time. Carly Jackson might be the most fun personality in the PHF and her energy is contagious. The city of Buffalo sure knows how to have a good time and that’s rubbing off on their hockey team. Beating Toronto last week shows they can beat anyone come playoff time, and I hope they keep up their momentum to pull off a shocker.
3. Boston Pride
The Boston Pride remind me a bit of the Minnesota Whitecaps—a team with overflowing talent that is prone to taking some games off. This inconsistency has held them back from joining the top tier of the Premier Hockey Federation. Their play has remained constant since the new year, and they’re certainly looking like contenders, but every once in a while a slip up comes along. Instead of being among the ranks of Connecticut and Toronto, they’re stuck in their own class until further notice.
In hockey, the difference between a championship team and the rest of the field is elite goaltending. Good news for Pride fans—they’ve got that covered. Katie Burt is a top-2 goalie in the PHF who’s coming off being named the league’s first star of the week. Burt recorded a shutout and was called into action in Game 2 of the weekend as well. She got credit for both wins, and let me emphasize—she did not let a single puck get by her all weekend. A player like that can turn a team from good to great, which Burt just might achieve come playoff time.
It cannot be denied any longer; the Connecticut Whale are for real. They’ve turned their team around from a two-win season a few years ago to being among the best in the PHF. They’ve shown they can score goals like no other team in this league and they haven’t stopped all season. Their defense and goaltending may be cause for worry, but that’s what this last month is all about.
If a team relies solely on scoring to win the Isobel Cup, it will be very difficult. Opponents can scheme to defend over the course of one game and pinpoint Connecticut’s biggest strength to take them out. In addition, the Isobel Cup Playoffs are one loss and out. If the Whale offense goes quiet for even one night, the dream is over. They need to find balance in their playing style, but they have games remaining against Toronto to measure what they’re up against. If Connecticut can fine-tune their game to get ready for the playoffs, watch out. They look like real contenders and are ready for their time to shine.
1 . Toronto Six
I know, bold pick here. I’m sorry I couldn’t ruffle any feathers by throwing a surprise team at number 1 but there’s no use in pretending anyone’s better than the Toronto Six right now. Dominance is the word I think of while watching their games. On offense, defense, and in net Toronto dominates the ice. Mikyla Grant-Mentis is a world-beater on a mission to reel in the Isobel Cup and maybe even pick up an MVP trophy on the way. MGM presents such an issue for defending teams that opponents have to gameplan for her alone, and she’s only one part of this wagon of a hockey team.
If there’s anything that’s for certain in hockey playoffs, it’s that nothing is certain. Count on some crazy stuff going down, and don’t expect this Toronto team to get off without facing some adversity. The Six’s game is so complete that I struggle to think anyone can beat them in a single game with everything on the line—but that’s why we play the games, right? They’ve dealt with everything this season perfectly which is a good indicator that they have a great shot of being the last team standing on March 28.
The last month of the Premier Hockey Federation is finally upon us. With the Isobel Cup Playoffs ending in late March, it’s important to understand where all six teams stand and what they need to learn before playing for all the marbles. Each squad will grow and mature with the hopes of curating their game for a cup run. Some teams look ready to roll already and others still have some tweaking to do, but the beauty is that nothing is sure yet. Any team in this league could come out flying in March, so let’s get ready for a show.