How to watch PHF – Top teams, players, schedule, playoffs

The Premier Hockey Federation is back and bigger than ever.

Seven teams – including the Montreal Force expansion – will begin their race for the coveted Isobel Cup as the PHF kicks off its eighth season on Saturday.

Since Boston Pride won the championship for the second straight season last spring, there have been significant turnovers across almost every roster, which promises to make the upcoming season more dynamic and exciting than ever as a long list of new talent enters the mix enter.

And who could these skaters be? Nice that you asked.

Before the PHF gets rolling, here’s what you should know about the league, its top players, potential rising stars, and other special features.

When does the season start and how long does it last?

The PHF begins its 84-game regular season with three tilts: Minnesota in Toronto (2 p.m. ET puck drop), Connecticut in Boston (7 p.m. start), and Montreal in Buffalo (7 p.m. start). Each club’s 24-game schedule runs through Sunday 12 March, after which the Isobel Cup play-offs begin.

This is the first full schedule for the PHF since 2019-20.

How do I watch the games?

ESPN+ will be the exclusive home of PHF games in the United States for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons. Fans can sign up here to stream all games.

In Canada, TSN subscribers can enjoy live PHF games across the broadcaster’s five platforms or stream online via the TSN Direct app.

What is the playoff format and when does the postseason start?

The 2023 Isobel Cup Playoffs begin in March. More information about the postseason – including its format and other important dates – will be announced at a later date.

Tell me about the teams.

The PHF – formerly known as the National Women’s Hockey League – began 2015-16 with four teams: The Metropolitan Riveters, Connecticut Whale, Boston Pride and Buffalo Beauts. The league expanded to five teams in 2018-19 with the Minnesota Whitecaps, and the Toronto Six expansion came in 2020-21. This is the inaugural season for the PHF’s newest expansion team, the Montreal Force.

Boston has won more championships (three) than any other team and is the reigning back-to-back Isobel Cup winner. Every club but the Six (and of course Force) have played at least one league game and four of the six finals have been decided by a goal.

Connecticut had its best-ever season in 2021-22, posting the PHF’s best record (15-3-2) and top finish in the playoffs. The Whale advanced into their maiden Isobel Cup final, leading the Pride 2-1 halfway through regulation before eventually losing 3-2.

The Metropolitan have been turning their wheels since winning the Isobel Cup in 2018 and this off-season has seen big changes to get them on track. The Riveters have a new GM in Tori Charron, a new manager in Venla Hovi, and a completely revamped roster down to three players from last season.

Minnesota has struggled to increase its depth over the past season. The Whitecaps struggled after goaltender Amanda Leveille was injured and their blue line has often been challenged. They’re hoping a string of additions made since a fifth-place finish in the spring will be that spark.

Buffalo appeared in four consecutive Isobel Cup Finals from 2016 to 2019 and won the trophy just once in 2017. The return of Mikyla Grant-Mentis should help with that. She previously played in Buffalo in the 2019-20 season and signed a one-year, $80,000 contract — the most lucrative women’s hockey deal ever — to rejoin the Beauts this season.

Toronto has the distinction of never losing a game in Canada. They’ll put that streak on the line when they face Buffalo in their season debut.

Montreal plays its first home game on November 26 against the Riveters at the 2/21 Center. The Force will play arenas throughout the province of Quebec throughout the season to bring women’s hockey to the widest possible audience.

Who are the top players?

Grant-Mentis being moved to Buffalo from Toronto will be fascinating to watch. She was the PHF’s MVP in 2020-21 and will draw a lot of attention as she attempts to unleash the Beauts’ offensive attack.

Connecticut’s Kennedy Marchment was named MVP last season after leading the league with 33 points in 20 games. Her teammate Taylor Girard was Newcomer of the Year with 11 goals and 24 points in 20 games.

Riveters captain Madison Packer is a formidable offensive force and consistently proves to be one of the best players in the league. She’s coming off a 23-point season and is poised for another strong season.

Leveille’s return is great for the Whitecaps and the league to have a star in their midst again. She was a two-time PHF Goaltender of the Year and a two-time Isobel Cup winner, giving Minnesota real star presence.

What new players should I watch out for?

Elizabeth Giguere and Loren Gabel join two-time champion Pride to add even more dynamic to their roster. Giguere is a Patty Kazmaier Award winner from Clarkson University, who put off turning pro last season to serve another year in the NCAA.

Gabel was previously with the Professional Women’s Hockey Association but decided to join the PHF after receiving an offer from Boston last summer. The Pride struggled to net pucks last season and both Giguere and Gabel should help with that.

Brittany Howard is another former PWHA skater who settled on a splashy free agent deal with Toronto in June. The dynamic offensive talent should play an important role in sparking more offense for the Six.

Amanda Pelkey ​​is an old face returning to the league once again. She played for Pride for three seasons between 2015 and 2019 and will now play for the Riveters. The former US national team member is a two-time world champion gold medalist and won Olympic gold in 2018.

Another new signing for the Riveters is goaltender Rachel McQuigge, who just wrapped up a sensational season at Princeton with a .938 save percentage and 1.88 goals against average.

Buffalo’s Olivia Knowles should also draw attention. The defenseman captained the University of Minnesota women’s team last season and will help anchor the Beauts’ blue line.

I heard there’s a team playing games at a mall in New Jersey.

Yes, the Riveters will play their home games (for the next three years) at the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The regular-size ice rink will be surrounded by other traditional shopping malls such as an indoor water park and a Ferris wheel.

It’s a unique way to bring more fans to Riveters games. The rink seats up to 2,000 people, but the Riveters initially only plan to fill about 1,000 seats – which they set up themselves – on the first level, while the third level allows passers-by in the mall access to watch the Riveters in action for free.

Any other fun facts to share before opening the Puck Drop?

The PHF has instituted a record-high salary cap of $750,000 per team for this season, including a $562,500 floor.

Brianna Decker joined the PHF this season as a team and player development advisor. The Team USA star is a six-time World Championships gold medalist and Olympic gold medalist who was previously with the PWHA but made a high-profile move to the PHF group. At the last Olympics, Decker sustained a leg injury that temporarily stalled her own playing career. How to watch PHF – Top teams, players, schedule, playoffs

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