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Deep Blue Sea: PHF opening weekend

Plus Maple Leafs injuries, Blackhawks coaching situation and more in today’s news and notes.

Members of the Boston Pride hold the Isobel Cup trophy after defeating the Minnesota Whitecaps 4-3 in the NWHL Isobel Cup Championship at Warrior Ice Arena on March 27, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

This weekend was the season-opening start to what will be a 20-game campaign for the Premier Hockey Federation, and it was a great one.

To open the season on Saturday, we saw the Metropolitan Riveters take down the Connecticut Whale, 4-1. Later that day, we saw Buffalo Beauts goaltender Carly Jackson stand on her head, but to no avail, as the Toronto Six beat the Buffalo Beauts 4-3. To cap off opening day came a barnburner between the defending champion Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps, where ten combined goals resulted in a 6-4 win for the Pride.

The next day was even better. Pride goaltender Katie Burt shut the door on the Whitecaps in her return to the PHF (formerly NWHL), saving all 22 shots that came her way in a 1-0 victory. McKenna Brand was the lone goal scorer and Whitecaps goaltender Amanda Leveille saved 35 of 36 shots.

Later that day, we witnessed a crazy follow up game between the Whale and Riveters. Metropolitan got off to a quick 3-0 lead, but then allowed six, I repeat, six unanswered goals to the Whale. They pushed for a late period comeback, but came short, losing 6-5. Mariah Fujimagari of the Whale made her season debut, saving 22 of 27 shots.

Some standouts thus far include Allie Thunstrom, Rebecca Russo, Jillian Dempsey, Alyssa Wohlfeiler and Mikyla Grant-Mentis, who are all currently among the league’s top scorers.

The recent rebranding of the league, along with the planned expansion to Montreal for the 2022-23 season has me wondering if we could see a San Jose, or at least Californian franchise at some point. Personally, I think it’d be a great market and would thrive in this area, although maybe it’s better fitted for somewhere in SoCal. Los Angeles and Anaheim both have ties with women’s hockey.

Nonetheless, it was a great opening weekend, and I for one am very excited to watch this season unfold.

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