PHF Weekend Primer 3/12–3/13

All six PHF teams are in action this weekend, which means there will be no shortage of exciting hockey to watch. 

By Spencer Hoagland

If you think it’s been forever since all six teams played in the same weekend, it has. The last time every PHF team had games over one weekend came all the way back on November 20. But at long last, every team has a chance to steal the spotlight and make this weekend their own. With playoffs fast approaching, teams are making every last-minute adjustment they can to give themselves an edge.

There’s a real sense of urgency in the air. The Toronto Six and Connecticut Whale can control first place with a weekend sweep, and the top two spots are extremely valuable as they’ll earn a first round bye come playoff time. The rest of the field are jockeying for position with Boston, Minnesota, Metropolitan, and Buffalo slotted at three through six; all of those teams  will likely play each other come the end of this month. Let’s jump into this week’s matchups to see what’s at stake as each game passes. 

Boston Pride vs Toronto Six

For a while, I thought Boston was just a half step behind the top class of the PHF—always within striking distance and ready to step in if anyone slipped up. Now, I’m not so sure they can make that move. The Pride have been in third place for just about the entire season, but haven’t done much of anything with it. That’s especially frustrating when you realize Boston has the second-best goalie in the league with Katie Burt and a lethal offensive attack featuring Taylor Wenczkowski and Jillian Dempsey. On paper, the Pride should have a bye in the Isobel Cup playoffs, but their inconsistent play and lack of series sweeps has them looking for a late season miracle to get into the top two. 

Taylor Wenczkowski after scoring for Boston Pride in 2021 (Photo Credit: Michelle Jay/TheHockeyWriters)

The Toronto Six have been rolling all year long. They’re the pinnacle of success and an example of how to dominante in the PHF. I know every week I talk about how great Toronto is and how everyone on their roster is a rockstar who can do no wrong. Trust me, it gets old for me too, but it’s the truth. There’s no hiding how good The Six are, but they must continue playing perfectly. The key to success for Toronto is keeping the lines rolling. Depth scoring has been a strength for them all along, and now what matters most is staying in rhythm and letting the good vibes roll. Boston will present a legitimate challenge to Toronto’s dominance, and I’m excited to see how the Six look against another top opponent. 

Minnesota Whitecaps vs Metropolitan Riveters 

My instinct is to call this a mediocre matchup. Let’s be brutally honest, it doesn’t get more middling than Minnesota and Metropolitan this season. Starting with the Minnesota Whitecaps, I’ve written extensively about how their roster and results don’t add up. Jonna Curtis and Allie Thunstrom have just about put the entire team on their back and dragged them to five wins. The core of this Whitecaps team has won in the past though, which is why I believe they could get hot soon and make waves in the month of March. Yes, that’s a lazy Whitecaps joke—deal with it. 

Much like Minnesota, the Metropolitan Riveters are smack-dab in the middle of the PHF standings. I think the Rivs differ from their opponents in that they are exactly where they’re supposed to be. There’s nothing wrong with being the fourth best, especially when the Rivs can’t seem to sweep any of their opponents. Metropolitan has left dozens of points on the board by splitting series all year long. Madison Packer made an incredible play to win in overtime last Sunday, and thanks to her, you can never count this Rivs team out. 

Buffalo Beauts vs Connecticut Whale

Slowly but surely, the Buffalo Beauts have been building momentum and are starting to see results. Through all of their losses early this season, the Beauts have kept their heads up and didn’t get discouraged. Buffalo’s mentality is admirable, and it is a large part of why they’re becoming more successful of late. It’s truly a feel-good story to see Buffalo finally win some hockey games, but they’re still the worst in the PHF. Regardless of how fun the Beauts are or how they make us feel by staying positive, they’re seriously in danger of finishing this year as one of the worst teams in PHF/NWHL history. If they can keep their momentum something may change, but they’re on track to make history, and not in a good way. 

Allie Munroe for Connecticut Whale in 2021 (Photo Credit: @alliemunroe3 on Twitter)

Connecticut, on the other hand, has been to the bottom of the league and lived to tell the tale. Their turnaround as a franchise is remarkable and should be viewed as an example for how to create success out of disaster. With some clutch wins late this season and a slight slip-up out of Toronto, the Whale could take the top seed going into the playoffs. If Connecticut does secure the top spot, look for defender Allie Munroe to be a game-changer who leads the way. She should even be on the short list of candidates for defender of the year at the end of it all, and it will be well deserved. Connecticut has a big opportunity this weekend, and I think they know just what’s on the line. 

How exciting, a full slate of PHF games where everyone needs wins to better their position. It’s almost like winning games is advantageous. Weird, right? I’ll be looking for leaders on each team to step up while the playoffs are just on the horizon. Now get ready to enjoy a weekend filled with hockey twists and turns; I know I can’t wait. 

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