NWHL teases potential expansion to Toronto, Montreal following Isobel Cup final

Jared Clinton
(via NWHL/YouTube)

The Boston Pride capped off an outstanding opening season for the NWHL Saturday night with a 3-1 victory and series sweep of the Buffalo Beauts to win the inaugural Isobel Cup. The Pride’s victory wasn’t the only news to come out of the NWHL Saturday, however.

Following the Pride’s post-game celebration, announcement of Brianna Decker as playoff MVP and the trophy presentation, the NWHL’s live video stream of the contest flashed a graphic on screen that gave promise that the off-season could be a big one for the burgeoning women’s league: Read more

Where’s your old hockey gear? It might be in one of Liz Pead’s amazing art installations

Liz Pead. (Photo by Matt Larkin/THN)

Is there a more authentically Canadian human being on Earth than Liz Pead? Doubtful.

On a Friday afternoon in November, you find her playing in a celebrity tournament hosted by Brad May, receiving effortless saucer passes from retired NHL defenseman Dave Ellett. She mixes it up on the blue ice, jawing happily with her opponents, some male, some female, hunting for garbage goals. She’s not the fastest player on the ice, but she has a solid excuse: she’s not usually a forward. She’s a goaltender by trade, a student of Sami Jo Small’s school. Oh, and a hockey mom to two children.

While Pead plays, her impeccable work hangs above the glass overlooking the rinks at Oakville’s Sixteen Mile Sports Complex: a giant art installation, as wide as a minivan, depicting Louis Riel and the Church at Batoche in 1885. The church, the blue sky, the trees and the dirt puff out from the canvas – because they are comprised entirely of old hockey equipment. Pead rounds up any used or discarded pieces she can find, many of which come from NHLers, and stitches them into her work. She’s done an extensive Bill Barilko installation. She grew up idolizing the Group of Seven’s Tom Thomson and New York Islanders Hall of Fame goaltender Billy Smith equally. When she acted on stage as a kid, her first big role was ‘Canada Goose.’ Her only line was ‘Honk, honk, honk.’ Someone, please, put her on a stamp right now. She bleeds maple syrup.

So how did an awe-shucks drama nut from New Brunswick become one of her nation’s most innovative artists, whose work pops up in arenas all over the world, who also finds time to stop pucks in tournaments everywhere from Iceland to the Czech Republic?

Read more

Boston Pride win inaugural NWHL Isobel Cup with sweep of Buffalo Beauts

Jared Clinton
The Boston Pride won the inaugural Isobel Cup. (via NWHL/Twitter)

One year after winning the CWHL’s Clarkson Cup, Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight have again led a Boston-based women’s team to a championship. This time, however, it’s the NWHL’s Boston Pride as Knight and Decker’s squad have won the inaugural Isobel Cup.

The Pride opened the series with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 that was capped by a controversial penalty shot game-winner by Hilary Knight in the extra frame, but Boston wasn’t going to let the Buffalo Beauts get close to ruining the series sweep Saturday night.

In a tight-checking game, the Pride took a 1-0 lead on a goal by captain Brianna Decker midway through the first period. Decker was spotted flying up ice by Knight who fed a perfect stretch pass to Decker for a partial breakaway. Decker made no mistake, firing the puck past Beauts goaltender Brianne McLaughlin. She wasn’t done there. Read more

CWHL’s Thunder set to make history by capturing professional game with POV cameras

Jared Clinton
The Brampton Thunder will wear UHWK Show cameras Sunday (via ChizComm)

The NHL’s partnership with GoPro has provided us with some incredible first-person footage of some of the world’s best players showing off their skills, but we’ve yet to see the cameras used in live game action. Thanks to another wearable tech company, though, the CWHL’s Brampton Thunder will be the first team in professional hockey history to wear helmet-mounted cameras during live play.

For their season finale this Sunday, Feb. 21, several Thunder players will be taking the ice wearing UHWK Show, a helmet-mounted POV camera that will capture in-game footage. The Thunder, currently in third place in the CWHL, will wear the cameras for their contest against the second-place Calgary Inferno in a game that could potentially have a major impact on playoff seeding.

“Being the first pro team to use UHWK is a privilege,” Thunder coach Tyler Fines said in a release. “It’s a game changer for a lot of players and coaches. You can do a lot with what this product can do; it’s good for players and good for analytics.” Read more

The Hockey News Podcast: Episode 4 — NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan on Hockey & Heels; why the Canadiens need to fire Therrien

Ian Denomme
NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan at the league's first draft lottery. (via NWHL/Vimeo)

Welcome to Episode 4 of The Hockey News Podcast.

This week we’re joined by the commissioner of the National Women’s Hockey League, Dani Rylan, to talk about the somewhat controversial Hockey & Heels promotion put on by the Islanders. We also talk to her about how the NWHL’s inaugural season is going.

Then THN writers Ken Campbell, Ryan Kennedy, Matt Larkin discuss why the Montreal Canadiens need to fire their head coach, and we get into the messy situation with the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. Ken also tells us what his favorite Cheap Trick song is.

Download and subscribe on iTunes, and on Soundcloud.

[Music: Metz — Headache]

Denna Laing joins Pride teammates on ice as Boston celebrates ‘Denna Day’

Jared Clinton
Denna Laing (center) with her Boston Pride teammates (via Liz Maxim McDonald/Facebook)

For the first time since her tragic injury, Denna Laing was back out on ice with her Boston Pride teammates to help the club celebrate ‘Denna Day’ on their final home game of the season.

Laing made a special appearance at Sunday’s game between the Pride and Connecticut Whale, and the home crowd was delighted at the sight of Laing, 24, out on the ice with her teammates. Though Laing has remained in touch with fans throughout her recovery process through social media, she hadn’t made a public appearance since suffering the spinal injury that has left her with limited movement in her arms and no movement of her legs.

Before the game began, Laing joined her Pride teammates at center ice for a team photo and she even took to the crease pre-game with teammates to help rally the troops before the game. Read more

Women’s star Amanda Kessel returns after nearly two year bout with concussion

Jared Clinton
Amanda Kessel (Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Amanda Kessel’s battle with post-concussion symptoms nearly robbed her of her final year of NCAA eligbility, but University of Minnesota Gophers coach Brad Frost announced Wednesday that the 24-year-old sniper will be making her triumphant return after all.

Kessel, regarded as one of the best women’s players in the world, has missed the past two seasons of NCAA action for vastly different reasons. She redshirted the 2013-14 campaign to train with Team USA’s women’s team ahead of the Sochi Olympics, but a concussion put her tournament in jeopardy. She returned for the Olympics and led Team USA in scoring, but the post-concussion symptoms forced her to redshirt again in 2014-15 and, as of last July, were thought to have claimed her final college season.

“After her missing last year and the severity of the concussions last year, we had a feeling that she was not going to be able to play for us unless things turned around,” Frost told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in July. “We’ve had some discussions with Amanda and myself, but really, it’s never even gotten to the point where hockey is something she would do with us again.”

Well, it appears it’s gotten to that point. Not only is Kessel coming back, but she may be ready to get back in the lineup as soon as Friday against the University of North Dakota. Read more

NWHL coach Mastel reportedly resigns from league-leading Connecticut Whale

Jared Clinton
Jake Mastel (left) and Harry Rosenholtz (via Connecticut Whale/Twitter)

Jake Mastel, the coach of the NWHL’s league-leading Connecticut Whale, resigned from his post as the club’s bench boss Thursday and was replaced by assistant Lisa Giovanelli Zuba for Thursday’s practice.

According to Kaitlin Cimini, who first reported Mastel’s departure, the move comes little more than a month after the Whale watched their then-GM, Harry Rosenholtz, step down from his post. Rosenholtz, who stepped down Dec. 24, was replaced by NWHL COO George Spiers and the league has yet to find a replacement for him.

While the specifics surrounding Mastel’s resignation are unknown, the 45-year-old stepping away comes with his team one of the two favorites to win the championship in the league’s inaugural season. Through 13 games, the Whale are 11-2-0 with a plus-14 goal differential and boast two of the top five scorers in the league in Kaleigh Fratkin and Kelli Stack. Read more