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Season opener 2.0: Whale travel to Montreal for a pair

Shannon Turner guards the goal along with Connecticut goalie Meeri Raisanen protect the goal during an exhibition game in Milford against the Riveters.

Perhaps, we can call this season opener 2.0.

It’s been over a month since the Premier Hockey Federation began play with their 2022-23 campaign on Nov. 5 when the Connecticut Whale faced the defending Isobel Cup champion Boston Pride.

The Whale dropped a 4-0 decision to the Pride four weeks ago and haven’t had a game since. Boston and Toronto have gotten in six games in the past month with Metropolitan getting in five and Montreal and Minnesota with four each.

Connecticut (0-1) finally gets back on the ice for a competitive contest with a weekend series against the expansion Montreal Force (2-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m. and on Sunday at noon. Both games will be available on ESPN+

The following weekend, the Whale will play their first-ever games in Simsbury at the International Skating Center when they host Minnesota on Dec. 9 and 10.

November was never going to be a busy month for the Whale in terms of games. They had only three games scheduled. But a pair of games against Buffalo on Nov. 19 and 20 in Milford were postponed because of a severe, early-season snowstorm in the Buffalo area that limited the ability of the Beauts to safely get to Connecticut.

The Whale will be facing Montreal at Aréna Conrad-Parent in Sept-Îles, Quebec. The Force are playing their home games in six separate arenas in Quebec to showcase women’s hockey across the province.

Montreal split their first two PHF series with the Buffalo Beauts and Metropolitan Riveters. Last weekend against the Riveters, Montreal won on Saturday 5-3 before dropping a 3-2 decision on Sunday.

Montreal forward Jade Downie-Landry had a hat trick and five points (three goals, two assists) in the 5-3 victory on Saturday, including a power play goal. It was one point shy of the league record of six points in a game.

Teammate Ann-Sophie Bettez had three-points in the win over the Riveters with a power play goal and two assists.

Downie-Landry is tied for the league lead in points (8, 4 goals, 4 assists) with Bettez tied for third with five points (3 goals, 2 assists).

After a franchise-record 74 goals and 15 wins a year ago, the Whale were disappointed to come up empty, offensively in a 4-0 loss to the Pride in their season opener.

“We have a mission in mind,” Whale head coach Colton Orr said in the preseason. “We have a lot of skill up front. If you look at the talent and depth we have throughout the lineup, we’ll try to let the skill take over the game.”

The Whale are led by Kennedy Marchment, last year’s league MVP with 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists) in 20 games, who should be playing on the top line with Taylor Girard (11 goals-13 assists, 24 pts.) and Kateřina Mrázová.

Look for Alyssa Wohlfeiler (8-8, 16), Caitrin Lonergan and Janine Weber on the second line.

The Whale added Pride forward Tori Sullivan and Katerina Mrazova, who helped Czechoslovakia finish third at the recent world championships. Connecticut also added goalie Meeri Räisänen, who played for Finland at the world championships.

Räisänen, a 32-year-old Olympian played in 12 games for the Whale in 2018-19, posting a .908 save percentage. Räisänen will be playing with second-year keeper Abbie Ives, the former Quinnipiac University starter, who was 12-4 with a 2.37 GAA in her first professional season for the Whale.

The defense is anchored by veteran Shannon Turner, the last remaining player from Connecticut’s debut season in the National Women’s Hockey League 2015-16.


Premier Hockey Federation standings, Dec. 1, 2022

Boston 5-1 13 3 2 0
Toronto 4-1-1 12 3 1 0
Metropolitan 2-3 6 2 0 0
Montreal 2-2 5 1 0 1
Buffalo 1-0-1 4 1 0 0
Minnesota 0-2-2 2 0 0 0
Connecticut 0-1 0 0 0 0
Points: Three points for a win in regulation, two points for an OT or shootout win; one point for loss in OT or shootout
Saturday, Dec. 3
Connecticut at Montreal, 1 p.m.
Metropolitan at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 4
Connecticut at Montreal, noon
Metropolitan at Minnesota, 2 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 9
Minnesota at Connecticut (Simsbury), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10
Minnesota at Connecticut (Simsbury), 2 p.m.
Metropolitan at Toronto, 2 p.m.
Boston at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 11
Boston at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Metropolitan at Toronto, 2 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 27

Toronto 7, Boston 3
Metropolitan 3, Montreal 2
Saturday, Nov. 26
Boston 3, Toronto 2
Montreal 5, Metropolitan 3


Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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