The Premier Hockey Federation is placing pleasure on the road at its upcoming All-Star weekend. Nationwide pleasure, that’s.
The PHF was impressed by its increasing international attain to create a complete new All-Star recreation format, that includes three groups made up of American, Canadian and worldwide gamers chosen from throughout the PHF’s seven groups.
Fast historical past lesson: The PHF started in 2015-16 because the Nationwide Ladies’s Hockey League with 4 golf equipment: The Metropolitan Riveters, Connecticut Whale, Boston Satisfaction and Buffalo Beauts. The league expanded in 2018-19 when the Minnesota Whitecaps joined, quickly to be adopted by the Toronto Six in 2020-21 and the Montreal Pressure in 2022-23.
Again to this season: The PHF’s All-Star important occasion takes place on Sunday, January twenty ninth at 7 p.m. ET in Toronto, and shall be broadcast reside throughout the U.S. on ESPN2 and in Canada on TSN, TSN.ca and the TSN app.
“That is the very best ladies’s hockey league on this planet. If you wish to watch a few of the high gamers [for the first time], that is the place you are able to do it,” Sami Jo Small, president of the Toronto Six, advised ESPN not too long ago. “The excitement across the PHF is absolutely thrilling and tremendous constructive, for not simply ladies’s hockey, however ladies’s sport normally.”
Prepare for the PHF’s All-Star showcase with all of the information, notes and names to know:
Format first: Three groups, one champion
Enjoyable truth: The PHF deliberate to host its 2022 All-Star Recreation in Toronto.
A surge in COVID-19 instances — and restrictions — in the end made that unimaginable. So, the league pivoted to holding its occasion final January in Buffalo. That was the PHF’s first crack at a three-team sample too, with designated captains nearly drafting gamers from across the league to make for a best-on-best battle.
One yr later, the PHF is taking that customary up a notch.
The league represents extra gamers from world wide than ever earlier than. Highlighting that depth was the impetus behind this season’s All-Star recreation method, with 45 gamers — 15 per squad — pitted towards each other by nation. The All-Star recreation itself shall be a four-on-four affair opening in round-robin contests, adopted by a championship matchup.
Workforce Canada and Workforce USA sq. off first. That winner will play Workforce World within the second recreation; the dropping aspect will face Workforce World in a 3rd and closing round-robin contest. The video games shall be two seven-minute durations of set time, with a one-round shootout taking place between durations the place both aspect can add bonus objectives. The title recreation will function the highest two groups following the three-game round-robin.
“I believe [the format] will create some new and thrilling rivalries, but additionally enable the gamers to satisfy [people] from different groups and to simply create some bonds that transcend maybe simply on the ice,” Small mentioned. “These ladies toil away on their very own [PHF] groups and no one else actually is aware of what they undergo besides for his or her fellow hockey gamers at this stage.”
Connecting with new — and acquainted — faces is a significant incentive for the gamers as properly. A few of these chosen may be sporting their nation’s colours for the primary time. Others have been on the worldwide stage earlier than. However most individuals will agree: This new configuration provides critical spice to the All-Star weekend.
“I believe it is cool,” Metropolitan Riveters ahead and Workforce USA selectee Madison Packer, making a file sixth All-Star recreation look, advised ESPN. “I do know gamers have already been speaking on our group. Plenty of us performed collectively on different groups rising up so it is enjoyable to reconnect with a few of these gamers. I believe the grouping collectively of peoples’ international locations and having the [international] group that brings collectively the dynamic of a whole lot of [different] gamers. It is infusing a component to make it enjoyable, and I believe that there is a whole lot of pleasure related to it too.”
Break it down: Roster building
The PHF All-Star recreation will spotlight a stable mixture of rookie and veteran abilities.
Boston and the Metropolitan lead with 9 choices reaching All-Star ranks. Toronto is sending eight gamers, Connecticut has six, Minnesota has 5, and 4 every will come from Buffalo and Montreal.
Of the 45 gamers picked, 24 are PHF newcomers and 17 maintain earlier All-Star expertise.
Additional, 25 of the 45 chosen have senior nationwide group credit on their resume. That features all 15 members of the worldwide group, boasting gamers from Austria, China, Czechia, Finland, Hungary and Sweden.
“The expertise stage is gigantic inside the PHF,” Small mentioned. “There’s so many new gamers within the league, not simply from North America, however actually from all around the world. I believe that basically makes a press release concerning the PHF being a league the place the highest gamers who need to play and hone their abilities and make a dwelling can try this.”
These picked to play within the All-Star recreation additionally obtained to vote on group captains. Packer will put on the “C” for Workforce USA, Boston’s Kaleigh Fratkin is main Workforce Canada and Connecticut’s Kateřina Mrázová was chosen to captain Workforce World.
In a information launch, Packer identified that she and Jillian Dempsey tied in votes twice when teammates solid their ballots. In the end, Dempsey turned the captaincy over to Packer so she may “get pleasure from this one with my kiddos.”
Here is the breakdown of gamers by nation (together with their PHF membership):
Kelly Babstock (MET), Ann-Sophie Bettez (MON), Sarah Bujold (MET), Catherine Daoust (MON), Jade Downie-Landry (MON), Kaleigh Fratkin (BOS), Loren Gabel (BOS), Élizabeth Giguère (BOS), Mikyla Grant-Mentis (BUF), Brittany Howard (TOR), Kennedy Marchment (CTW), Corinne Schroeder (BOS) Kati Tabin (TOR), Saroya Tinker (TOR), Emma Woods (TOR)
Jonna Albers (MIN), Sydney Brodt (MIN), Shiann Darkangelo (TOR), Jillian Dempsey (BOS), Kali Flanagan (BOS), Taylor Girard (CTW), Abbie Ives (CTW), Dominique Kremer (BUF), Patti Marshall (MIN), Sidney Morin (MIN), Madison Packer (MET), Amanda Pelkey (MET), Natalie Snodgrass (MIN), Allie Thunstrom (BOS), Olivia Zafuto (BOS)
Taylor Baker (MON/HUN), Ebba Berglund (MET/SWE), Fanni Gasparics (MET/HUN), Anna Kilponen (MET/FIN), Denisa Křížová (MIN/CZE), Dominika Lásková (TOR/CZE), Leah Lum (TOR/CHN), Eveliina Mäkinen (MET/FIN) Antonia Matzka (BUF/AUT), Kateřina Mrázová (CTW/CZE), Emma Nuutinen (BUF/FIN), Lenka Serdar (CTW/CZE), Aneta Tejralová (BOS/CZE), Minttu Tuominen (MET/FIN), Tereza Vanišová (TOR/CZE)
Spill on stars: Who to observe
These video games shall be jam-packed with star energy. Maintain your head on a swivel.
Let’s begin with the rookies.
Boston’s Loren Gabel and Toronto’s Brittany Howard not solely highlight this yr’s All-Star freshmen class however tempo the PHF in scoring this season. Gabel is tied with Howard for many objectives (14) and sits first in factors (24) for the league-leading Satisfaction. Howard is true behind Gabel with 22 factors for the second-place Six.
These two, enjoying collectively for Workforce Canada? Epic.
Tossing in some earlier worldwide expertise (and profitable pedigree) for Canada shall be Montreal’s Ann-Sophie Bettez (15 factors in 13 video games), who earned an IIHF World Championship bronze with Workforce Canada in 2019.
In the meantime, Gabel’s teammate with the Satisfaction — five-time All-Star Dempsey — shall be sporting the crimson, white and blue of Workforce USA. Dempsey’s having one other nice marketing campaign within the PHF with a league-leading 4 game-winning objectives, and sitting third in factors (18).
One other Workforce USA standout is certain to be Connecticut’s Taylor Girard (16 factors in 13 video games). Packer, for one, cannot wait to share the ice along with her.
“I believe Taylor’s arguably the very best participant within the league this yr,” Packer mentioned. “She’s extremely proficient, humble and I am tremendous excited to see her shine in an All-Star setting as a result of I believe folks will acquire a fair larger appreciation for simply how proficient and particular she really is.”
The USA crew additionally holds three 2018 Olympic gold medalists in Boston’s Kali Flanagan, Minnesota’s Sidney Morin, and the Riveters’ Amanda Pelkey. Suffice it to say, the Individuals may have expertise to spare.
Ditto the worldwide crew.
Minnesota’s Denisa Křížová (six factors in 14 video games), Toronto’s Dominika Lásková (5 factors in 13 video games), Connecticut’s Kateřina Mrázová (12 factors in 13 video games), and Boston’s Aneta Tejralová (seven factors in 15 video games) all gained bronze on the 2022 IIHF Ladies’s World Championship.
“There’s already so many gamers from so many alternative international locations which might be enjoying on this recreation,” Small mentioned. “Having a world group permits these gamers to focus on their abilities alongside the North American gamers who usually get a lot of the recognition; the worldwide gamers have an unlimited quantity of expertise as properly.”
For Packer, the PHF’s progress of gamers from outdoors North America simply proves how respected — and viable — the league itself has continued to grow to be since its inaugural season.
“I used to be simply speaking to certainly one of my teammates the opposite day from Finland, and she or he was like, ‘I did not actually know what to anticipate coming to the PHF, you hear a whole lot of issues,'” Packer recalled. “I believe that is the preferred remark is that [potential players] simply hear so many alternative issues. And [my teammate] mentioned, ‘that is unbelievable, you guys are actually making strides and that is actually turning into established.’ So I believe for lots of the worldwide gamers, it is good for them to see we actually are constructing a league that has some sustainability and possibly that is one thing they did not know.”
If the PHF’s All-Star weekend goes to plan, extra folks than ever can acknowledge what makes the PHF so particular.
“I really feel passionately about this,” Packer mentioned. “I actually do it as a result of I like it, and I would like there to be a sustainable place to play for a few years to return. I believe yearly you see an inflow of expertise within the league and higher gamers coming in. A few of the younger expertise that we have now proper now could be wonderful. And it is as a result of there have been gamers earlier than [this generation] and there is going to be gamers after that, however getting everybody to purchase into that mentality of what we’re constructing and what we’re doing [is crucial]. It has been a whole lot of enjoyable.”