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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: Everyone’s watching Hilary Knight

The American superstar steals the spotlight, but there’s playoff hockey everywhere this weekend!

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Hilary Knight (21) in her first game with the Canadiennes de Montréal
Hilary Knight (21) in her first game with the Canadiennes de Montréal
Shanna Martin / CWHL

Story of the Week

#knight2mtl: Hilary Knight Joins Les Canadiennes

‘I’m just excited to contribute in any way I can’: Hilary Knight talks about joining Les Canadiennes - Eyes On The Prize

Hilary Knight’s whirlwind season sees Olympic champion join CWHL’s Les Canadiennes

The Hilary Knight story was so big this week we almost didn’t want to make it story of the week. After all what more can we say?

More than one piece written after her Thursday evening scrum made it clear this wasn’t some last-minute decision — Knight’s been planning to come to Montréal for a while. Whether or not this is some sort of move against the NWHL (it’s probably not, Knight isn’t usually particularly subtle when she has something on her mind) Kirsten Whelan hits the nail squarely on the head when she says that Knight is “in Montreal because it’s where she wants to be”.

When Alex Carpenter chose to sign up for the CWHL draft this past offseason, one thing that was pointed to as a possible explanation was that with the new USA Hockey contracts, US national team players don’t have to worry as much about how much their club teams are paying them. As a gold medalist, Knight also gets an extra bonus from the US Olympic committee. All this plus the sponsorship money that being “the face of USA Women’s hockey” pulls in gives her the freedom to move to the team that is (for now) paying a little less if she feels that it’s the more attractive league for other reasons.

Speaking of Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight’s not the first former NWHLer to come to the CWHL over the last two seasons. It’s true that a fairly minor player like Erin Zach moving from the Buffalo Beauts to the Toronto Furies in the 2016 offseason didn’t attract much attention, nor did it probably deserve much. On the other hand, Kelli Stack was once the highest-paid player in the NWHL. She’s now just won the Angela James Bowl as the CWHL’s highest scorer for the 2017-18 season. The CWHL playoffs will feature five former NWHLers on Stack’s team, Kunlun Red Star, three on the Markham Thunder, and now Knight on the Canadiennes de Montréal. If there is any kind of movement away from the NWHL, it wasn’t Hilary Knight that got the ball rolling.

That said, Knight is the only member of the USWNT to join a professional league post-Olympics. She might be a big name but she’s not the only name, and if she chooses not to rejoin the NWHL next season (note she has not committed to Montréal past the 2018 playoffs), there are several who still might bring some star power back to that league. Amanda Kessel, for instance, has already mentioned she’s interested in rejoining the Metropolitan Riveters next season.

In the meantime, Knight and the Canadiennes will be taking on the Markham Thunder in a best-of-three series this weekend in Montréal. Montréal went 4 and 1 against the Thunder this season but every game went to overtime and two needed a shootout. Markham is also the hottest team in the league right now. Their last loss was January 20 against Kunlun Red Star, and their last regulation loss was also against Kunlun on their trip to China on November 24.

For the other semi-final series Red Star will take on the Calgary Inferno this weekend here in the GTA. Generally considered a juggernaut of a team, Kunlun has a losing record against Calgary, although some of those games were played without their top goalie, Finnish Olympic bronze medalist Noora Räty. Both series promise to be exciting, so if you can go in person, you very much should. Otherwise games 2 and 3 (if necessary) of both series will be streamed on the CWHL site.

As to what Hilary Knight in particular can bring to a hockey team, check out the highlights package that our friends at Eyes on the Prize have compiled.

Highlights: What Hilary Knight can bring Les Canadiennes - Eyes On The Prize

International hockey

New Jersey Devils: Gold Medalists from Team USA Celebrated
Brian Boyle: “You hope the sport grows. I have a daughter and if she wanted to play hockey I’d be thrilled. They’re great role models and I’m happy for them."

Taipei’s girls win gold
U18 team wins Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia

Malaysia makes it
Women’s team wins CCOA event (Division I)

Driven New Zealand women’s team comes to train in ‘hockey heaven’ - The Globe and Mail
Team is heading to Spain to play in the Division II, Group B International Ice Hockey Federation’s women’s world championships

Hilary Knight On Winning Gold, Growing Women’s Hockey And Equality
The Team USA star talked to Uproxx about Team USA’s whirlwind tour following gold and what it means for women’s hockey’s future.

Para hockey

Meet Lena Schroeder, the lone woman fighting it out in tough Winter Paralympics sledge hockey
The 24-year-old is the first woman to compete in the discipline at the Games since 1994, and the only female player out of 135 at the Pyeongchang Paralympics.


Canadiennes vs. Inferno recap: Top line leads Montreal to victory - Eyes On The Prize
Montreal moves into first place on season’s penultimate day

CWHL Recap: Markham Thunder roll over the Boston Blades and into the playoffs - Pension Plan Puppets
Four points from returning Olympian Laura Stacey and a shutout from Erica Howe clinched the final playoff spot.

Les Canadiennes clinch regular season title on final day of the season - Eyes On The Prize
Montreal sweeps final weekend series against Calgary to secure number one spot in Hilary Knight’s debut.

CWHL Recap: Markham Thunder edge Boston Blades to end regular season - Pension Plan Puppets
Today’s game was a much closer contest than Saturday’s, but Markham ends the season on a high note.

Markham Thunder ready to roll for playoffs - The Ice Garden
After a rough start to the season, the Thunder are primed for the Clarkson Cup playoffs.

China’s Olympic hockey aspirations: Q-and-A with Shirley Hon of the Kunlun Red Star franchise - SupChina
We interviewed Shirley Hon, Director of International Affairs for the Kunlun Red Star group, to learn more about China's hockey teams and their goals for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.


NWHL Completes Regular Season
The final weekend of regular season action in the NWHL is complete. As we await the Isobel Cup Playoffs, take a quick look at the Beauts' and Riveters' wins.

Newest Beaut Juron Is Buffalo's Secret Weapon
THW caught up with the newest Buffalo Beaut - Jordan Juron was signed by the team late in the regular season, and is now with the squad for their playoff run toward the Isobel Cup. As Beauts defender Sarah Edney calls her, Juron is the team's "secret weapon".

The Riveters are not worried - The Ice Garden
With just one game left in the regular season the Riveters are not worried despite their recent struggles.


NCAA Tournament Recap: On to the Frozen Four - The Ice Garden
The first round of the NCAA tournament is officially over yes, there were some big surprises.

2018 NCAA Women's Tournament: Boston Bids Adieu - Stanley Cup of Chowder
For only the third time ever there will be no New England representatives in the Frozen Four. Minnesota was also shut out despite being the host state.

Boston College womens hockey falls to Ohio State in NCAA quarterfinal - BC Interruption
Boston College barraged the Ohio State net in the third period but could not find a breakthrough

Freshmen see limited time for Wisconsin Badgers women's hockey but attitudes 'outstanding' | Wisconsin Badgers Hockey |
Playing time has been limited for some Badgers women's hockey freshmen, but coaches see it as a learning process.

Northeastern Huskies - Huskies come up short in tightly-contested NCAA quarterfinals
In its first NCAA tournament game as reigning Hockey East champions, the No. 9/9 Northeastern women's hockey team couldn't overcome No. 3/3 Colgate's two-goal third period and fell 3-1 on Saturday afternoon at the Class of 1965 Arena.

Wisconsin Badgers earn fifth straight women's Frozen Four trip with 4-0 victory over Minnesota | College |
The Badgers will face Colgate in the semifinals on Friday in Minneapolis.

Miller addresses non-renewal as UMD trial resumes | Duluth News Tribune
An emotional Shannon Miller returned to the witness stand on Monday, telling jurors in her federal discrimination lawsuit about the December 2014 decision that ended her tenure as women's hockey coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth after 16 seasons.

Giguere's overtime goal lifts Knights women's hockey to third straight Frozen Four | NorthCountryNow
Freshman Elizabeth Giguere scored on a backhand shot late in overtime to help lead the Clarkson University Women's Hockey team to a 2-1 overtime victory over Mercyhurst University in the NCAA Quarterfinals in front of 1383 fans Saturday afternoon at Cheel Arena.

U Sports

2018 Women's Hockey Championship Schedule - U SPORTS - English
Schedule, live stats and video feeds March 15 - 18

Mustangs women's hockey edges Queen's to win McCaw Cup | Sports |
Western shut out the Queen's Gaels, 3–0, to win the provincial championship. They will now shift their focus to the upcoming U Sports championship.
Host Western Mustangs eye second national women’s hockey championship | The London Free Press
The team built its skills all season, putting them in position to take their second championship

U of S Huskies, Saint Mary’s Huskies meet in U SPORTS hockey opener | Saskatoon StarPhoenix
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies return to the national stage for the first time since 2014.

European league hockey

SDHL (Sweden) SDHL Quarterfinals Playoff Preview - The Ice Garden
The golden helmets are coming.

SWHL (Switzerland) Logical final in the SWHL A, Langenthal champion of the SWHL B -
The ZSC Lions and Lugano will meet in the playoff final of the SWHL A for the 9th time in a row.

Due to overtime in HCT game - SC Weinfelden lost game by forfeit -
HC Thurgau's game against EHC Olten went into overtime last Sunday. This had harsh consequences for the women's team of SC Weinfelden, as they were scheduled to have a game right after the men's game.

WHL (Russia) Women’s Hockey Update: March 13th, 2018 | CONWAY'S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
There were some big games this week in the Women's Hockey League, as the playoff picture continues to take shape.

AWIHL (Australia)

2018 AWIHL Finals Preview - The Ice Garden
Its anyone's game as the AWIHL head into finals weekend with the Sydney Sirens looking to defend their first title