The season has flown by so quickly. Both leagues are getting ready to head into hockey’s second season – the playoffs.
Here’s a breakdown by league of what to keep an eye out for this weekend and next.
The league is in their last weekend of regular season play. Next weekend, Feb. 26-28, is the semi final round with the top two seeds hosting a best of three series against the third or fourth seed. The winners from those two series will go on to play in the Clarkson Cup; a winner take all game on March 13 in Ottawa at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Les Canadiennes de Montreal have locked up first overall in the league. Based on the current standings, they will host the Toronto Furies.
The matchup to watch this weekend is the Calgary Inferno and Brampton Thunder. The two teams are within a point of each other in the standings and will meet next weekend in their playoff series. The only question left is who will host the game.
The league wraps up its first season after next weekend’s games. In the inaugural year, all four teams make the playoffs.
What we know for sure is that Boston and Connecticut will be the top two teams hosting playoff games. The Pride leapfrogged the Whale in the standings and have a one-point lead going into their head-to-head matchup this weekend. It’s just a matter of seeding.
Buffalo and New York sit two points apart for the third and fourth seed. Like the Pride and Whale, they’re playing for playoff seeding.
The NWHL’s best-of-three semi finals will take place the weekend of March 4. Winners of the games in Connecticut and Boston will head to the Isobel Cup Final in New Jersey at the Prudential Center Practice Facility. The final starts March 11 and is a best-of-three.
2. Islanders' Hockey In Heels.
I might be in the minority here, but I don’t mind sports teams marketing directly to women.
Pink jerseys, merchandise by Alyssa Milano, ‘Hockey in Heels’ night, etc. they’re all part of the business an NHL team is trying to run. I get that. Women hold significant purchasing power in North America and they are a gold mine when it comes to boosting a sport’s prevalence.
Take the New York Islanders recent promotion for a game against the Washington Capitals.
They offered a ‘Hockey in Heels’ night promotion (fine), but they added in a Hockey 101 seminar as part of it (hmm). The same night they ran a promotion for “Guys Night Out” where the guys get beer vouchers.
The boys get booze and the ladies get a lecture. What girl couldn’t resist an offer like that?!
Luckily, one level headed member of the hockey community jumped in - Jenny Scrivens, current New York Riveters goaltender, NWHL PR guru, and wife of Montreal Canadiens goaltender, Ben. By the end of Wednesday, Scrivens had been added to the Hockey 101 panel. She and I were going to chat about her experience at the event, but alas it was canceled prior to the game.
A spokesperson for Barclays Center said the event was canceled due to low attendance. Those who did purchase the special tickets were given dinner at the arena's restaurant, upgraded seats, and invited back to another Islanders game in the future. Plans to hold a similar promotion in the future are on hold.
Low attendance to an event like this one could signal something bigger. Cheap tickets are great; however, something teams forget when coming up with promotions like these - what brings new fans to the game are current fans.
It comes down to in-game experience.
One horrible thing we see too often is someone's night out at the rink damaged by the actions of others. Teams need to make the arena safer and welcoming for all fans, not just female ones. Instead of having security on the lookout for potential brawls, have them listen to the abusive and crass language spouted by other attendees. Get those idiots out of the arena.
Hockey 101 isn't going to do crap when someone is deterred from coming back because of their experience during the game itself.
Allow all well behaved hockey fans to enjoy the game in peace. Then they'll come back, and bring their friends.
/gets off soapbox.
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The Hockey News Podcast: NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan on ‘Hockey in Heels’ and an update on the leage.
Don’t Snow the Goalie: With featured guest and Boston hockey wiz Sarah Connors of Stanley Cup of Chowder and the CWHL Boston Blades stats crew to the podcast to talk Pride, Blades, and everything Boston hockey.
Xperience Hockey: Host Michael Lindenbaum has on Jordan Smelker of the Boston Pride
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AROUND THE RINKS
MUST READ: Injury delays culmination of Amanda Kessel’s career [New York Times]
CWHL’s Thunder set to make history by capturing professional game with POV cameras. [The Hockey News]
USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan will host the 2017 Women's World Championship. [Detroit Free Press]
A part-time job in the NWHL is still only part-time. [Today’s Slapshot]
It’s time to jump: Why Krista Patronick just quit her day job to become the full time GM of the Boston Blades. [Krista Patronick]
NWHL’s Jenny Scrivens turned her passions into the ultimate dream job. [The Pink Puck]
Details on the NWHL’s first awards ceremony. [The Hockey Writers]
Fancy stats: Les Canadiennes go for the [penalty] kill. [Along the Boards]
For players in a new women’s league, a rink isn’t the only office. [NYT]
Former CWHL Star Karolina Urban committed to concussion research. [Women’s Hockey Life]
Interview with Chelsea Laden of the New York Riveters who was part of the first trade in NWHL history. [Blueshirt Banter]
Inferno have full roster at best possible time. [Matchsticks & Gasoline]
NWHL MVP Race: Breaking down the contenders. [TSS]
Jamie-Lee Rattray and Erica Howe met in a broom closet as they changed into their gear to play on their boys teams. [Ottawa Citizen]
Riveters need to build around burgeoning star forward Morgan Fritz-Ward. [TSS]
Boston Blades goaltender Amanda Cariddi on her first pro start. [Stanley Cup of Chowder]
Devon Skeats speeds into power role with Beauts. [The Victory Press]
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THE BIG SHOW
Boston Blades at (1-21-0) Les Canadiennes de Montreal (19-3-0) – 5:30pm ET (Stream: CWHL Live $$)
Calgary Inferno (15-5-2) at Brampton Thunder (15-6-1) – 6:30pm ET
Boston Blades at Les Canadiennes de Montreal – 1:30pm ET
Calgary Inferno at Brampton Thunder – 1:30pm ET (Stream: CWHL Live $$)
Boston Pride (12-3-1) at Connecticut Whale (12-4-0) – 1:30pm ET (Stream: Cross-Ice Pass)
New York Riveters (4-10-2) at Buffalo Beauts (4-8-4) – 3:30pm ET (Stream: Cross-Ice Pass)
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