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Whale top Minnesota, 2-0 to capture first home game in Simsbury

Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille makes the stick save on Connecticut’s Kennedy Marchment during Friday night’s PHF game in Simsbury. The Whale prevailed, 2-0.

SIMSBURY, Dec. 9, 2022 – It’s the little things that can make a big difference.

The Connecticut Whale women’s professional hockey team played their first game at their new home rink – the International Skating Center in Simsbury – on Friday night.

More than 300 fans came to the ISCC to cheer on the Whale, who won their second straight game with a 2-0 Premier Hockey Federation victory over the Minnesota Whitecaps.

Whale goalie Abbie Ives made 24 saves to earn her first professional shutout in her third season. She also sparked the key goal of the game with a save on a breakaway that led to a fast transition and a goal from Alyssa Wohlfeiler that gave Connecticut a 2-0 lead with 16:46 remaining in the game.

“Everyone in Simsbury has been so welcoming, (providing) us with a (our own) locker room, our (Connecticut Whale) logo on the ice, making it really feel like home,” said Marchment, who scored the first PHF goal in the building off an assist from Katerina Mrazova with 11:56 left in the first period.

“I think a lot of our motivate came from that and trying to give back to the people who are doing so many things for us,” Marchment said.

Few teams in the league have their own team logo at center ice. Many arenas are littered with banners and signage for the multiple teams that use the ice in the building.

Connecticut rookie Justin Reyes (14) looks to control the puck during Friday night’s win over Minnesota in SImsbury at the ISCC.

At the ISCC, the Connecticut Whale logo is painted at center ice and there are team logos throughout the building. The ISCC also constructed a new locker room just for the Whale.

In earlier years of the PHG’s predecessor, the National Women’s Hockey League, teams carried in all of their equipment in multiple bags and took out at the end of the game.

“I’ve been around for a while now and I haven’t seen anything like this. I can’t say enough good things about this rink,” said Wohlfeiler, who has played in the league for six years, including five in Connecticut. “We walk in and our logo is everywhere. They’re feeding us food after our skills practice the other day. They actually want us here. Every other rink we’ve been consider and inconvenience. So, we’re really grateful and we appreciate it.”

The fans are close to the action and they create a buzz when they cheer.

“That is some unique about this rink,” Marchment said. “It has a full feel even though there might not be thousands of fans in the stands. The atmosphere is super amazing and the loudness creates a good atmosphere for us. It makes you want to work a little hard for the people coming to watch you play.”

Connecticut took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal in the first period when Mrazova shot on goal and took the rebound off the pads of Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille and dished it to Marchment, who popped it in the goal for her second goal of the season.

Ives made a breakaway save early in the third period and the Whale took control of the rebound with a rush up ice. Taylor Girard flew down the left side of the ice, dished a pass to Marchment, who left a pass for Wohlfeiler, who scored for the 2-0 lead with 16:46 left in the third period.

“That was a hugh save by (Abbie),” Wohlfeiler said. “(Abbie) was on it the whole game. We have confidence in her. She has it covered.”

And that rush up ice? “That is our game we want to transition and go fast the other way and we did it pretty well,” Wohlfeiler said.

The two teams close out their two-game series on Saturday in Simsbury with another game beginning at 2 p.m. at the ISCC.

The Whale come together to celebrate after taking an early 1-0 lead.

NOTES: Opening night festivities included members of the 8-and-under Connecticut Northern Lights  girls hockey team on the ice during the national anthem. Former Connecticut Troubadour Nekita Waller sang the national anthlem and Wendy Mack, the First Selectwoman in Simsbury, dropped the ceremonial first puck.

The Whale signed defender Kiira Dodsall-Arena to a two-game, player tryout contract. She becomes the fifth player in league history to compete in all eight seasons along with teammate Shannon Tucker, Boston’s Jillian Dempsey and Kaleigh Fratkin, and Metropolitan’s Madison Packer.

Dodsall-Arena, a 35-year-old from Stamford, has played in 89 PHF games as a member of the Metropolitan Riveters with 27 points. She won a Isobel Cup title in 2018.

Connecticut 2, Minnesota 0
At Simsbury
Minnesota (2-3-2)           0  0  0  — 0
Connecticut (2-1-1)        1  0  1  — 2
First period
Connecticut 1, Kennedy Marchment (Katerina Mrazova), 9:04 (pp)
Penalties: Amanda Conway (CT), tripping, 2:33; Liz Schepers (M), slashing, 7:04; Sydney Brodt (M) delay of game, 10:39; Kennedy Marchment (CT) roughing, 17:46
Second period
No scoring.
Penalties: Shannon Turner (CT) slashing, 10:06; Ashleigh Brykaliuk (M), cross checking, 18:03
Third period
Connecticut 2, Alyssa Wohlfeiler (Marchment, Taylor Girard), 3:07
Penalties: Mallory Souliotis (CT) roughing, 5:45; Jonna Albers (M), hooking, 8:10; Alyssa Wohlfeiler (CT) elbowing, 10:33
Shots: Connecticut 43 (17-18-8), Minnesota 24 (9-5-10); Power play: Minnesota 0-5, Connecticut 1-4
Saves: Minnesota: Amanda Leveille (L) 43 shots, 41 saves; Connecticut – Abbie Ives (W) 24 shots, 24 saves; Att. — 317


Premier Hockey Federation standings, Dec. 4, 2022

Boston 5-1 13 3 2 0
Toronto 4-1-1 12 3 1 0
Minnesota 2-3-2 8 2 0 0
Montreal 3-2 7 1 0 2
Connecticut 2-1-1 7 2 0 0
Metropolitan 2-4 6 2 0 0
Buffalo 1-0-1 4 1 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
Friday, Dec. 9
Connecticut 2, Minnesota 0
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, Dec. 11
Boston at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Metropolitan at Toronto, 2 p.m.Friday, Dec. 16
Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 17
Metropolitan at Connecticut (Simsbury), 2 p.m.
Montreal at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 18
Boston at Connecticut (Simsbury), 2 p.m.
Montreal at Minnesota, 2 p.m.

Holiday break. Play resumes January 6



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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