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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: Championship season!

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The NWHL season is over, the U Sports champions have been crowned, the SDHL season could end today, and the CWHL and NCAA have a big weekend ahead!

Minnesota Whitecaps overtime hero Lee Stecklein (#2)
Minnesota Whitecaps overtime hero Lee Stecklein (#2)
Michelle Jay (@michelle_jay3)

From the moment the Minnesota Whitecaps joined the NWHL, there was talk of them winning the Isobel Cup. Then the Buffalo Beauts signed Nicole Hensley and Shannon Szabados and the picture got a little murkier. It was no surprise then that the Beauts and Whitecaps faced off this past Sunday, with the Whitecaps becoming the fourth team to win the Isobel Cup, the first to win it in overtime, and the only team to have ever won both the Isobel and the Clarkson Cups.

The Guelph Gryphons took home their first U Sports championship title after a win over the McGill Martlets. Despite the fact that I follow U Sports hockey only in passing, I feel as a Guelph alumna, I get bragging rights. (Another Guelph alumna is Cassie Campbell-Pascall and I’m sure she was a lot prouder, for a lot better reason.) Note that Guelph goalie Valerie Lamenta has long been a player-to-watch and she is CWHL draft-eligible this offseason.

The NCAA quarterfinals last weekend set up a pair of WCHA-on-ECAC matchups this upcoming weekend in Connecticut—the Minnesota Golden Gophers will face the Cornell Big Red (yes, for any non-NCAA-watchers out there, that is their real team name!) while the Wisconsin Badgers and Clarkson Golden Knights are set up for a rematch of the 2017 national championship game, in which Wisconsin lost to Clarkson in a game that’s got to still be fresh in the minds of a lot of current Badgers. None of these teams are really a surprise to make it to the Frozen Four, and Friday’s games will determine which two teams make it through the semifinals and into Sunday’s national championship game. If I had to lay a bet on anyone, I’d say that Emily Clark and Annie Pankowski are probably very, very invested in ending their senior year with a championship trophy for Wisconsin.

The SDHL moved to a best-of-five playoff format this offseason and currently Linköping leads Luleå two games to one. Luleå won game three to force game four which takes place today. Luleå star player Jenni Hiirikoski was injured in a late play in the second game of the series.

The Russian Women’s Hockey League has moved into its semi-finals, a best-of-three format featuring league-leading Agidel Ufa against fourth seed SKIF Nizhny Novgorod and Dynamo St. Petersburg facing Biryusa Krasnoyarsk.

The 2019 Clarkson Cup Final marks the third time in four seasons that the Calgary Inferno will meet les Canadiennes de Montréal to decide the CWHL champion. To date, the teams are tied 1-1. Will Emerance Maschmeyer be able to shut the door on Calgary’s loaded offense? Will Alex Rigsby face down Marie-Philip Poulin or will Mélodie Daoust, Hilary Knight and Ann-Sophie Bettez have to step up in place of the injured star? On one hand, as a Torontonian cheering for Montréal is anathema. On the other hand, since they took out Toronto on their road to the final, I’d like to see Calgary go down. It’s gonna be a close and exciting game, I think Montréal has the edge. Find out Sunday at noon on Sportsnet!

NWHL

One Canceled Flight Upends the N.W.H.L. Playoffs - The New York Times
The Metropolitan Riveters missed their plane to last weekend’s semifinal. Now some players will miss the makeup game because of the tough financial landscape in pro women’s hockey.

Minnesota Whitecaps rout Metropolitan Riveters, advance to NWHL Isobel Cup final
Hannah Brandt scored twice to lead the Whitecaps to their first Isobel Cup final with a 5-1 win over the Riveters on Friday in the NWHL semis.

NWHL: Minnesota Whitecaps Win Isobel Cup
The Minnesota Whitecaps capped off an extraordinary inaugural NWHL season with the franchise’s first Isobel Cup, beating the Buffalo Beauts in overtime on Sunday to claim the championship.

Minnesota Whitecaps win Isobel Cup over Buffalo Beauts in overtime
Minnesota Whitecaps capture Isobel Cup in inaugural NWHL season with overtime win over Buffalo Beauts

Beauts fall to Whitecaps in Isobel Cup final - Die By The Blade
Hensley’s heroics not enough to overcome missed opportunities

2019 NWHL Awards - The Ice Garden
Keep up with all the finalists and winners for the 2019 NWHL awards

2018-19 NWHL Season Recap: Connecticut Whale - The Ice Garden
The Whale finished in the bottom of the NWHL’s standings for the third straight season.

NWHL: Connecticut Whale Season Review
For the third straight season, the Connecticut Whale finished at the bottom of the NWHL standings. Their two wins on the season mark a new franchise low and earned just six points.

NWHL: Boston Pride Season Review
It was another disappointing season for the NWHL’s Boston Pride, who finished the season third overall (out of five teams) and saw a first-round playoff exit.

When Professional Hockey is Your Side Hustle - Grandstand Central
How women’s professional hockey players for the Minnesota Whitecaps manage to chase championship dreams while chasing kids and working full-time gigs.

One league FAQ -- The NWHL and CWHL players want it; the NHL awaits
Not all of this ESPN article is accurate, there’s at least three major inaccuracies stated as facts about the CWHL, but the quotes are quite something.

CWHL

Calgary Inferno set to battle for Canadian Women’s Hockey League championship - Calgary | Globalnews.ca
The Calgary Inferno hope to use early playoff adversity to their advantage in their quest for a CWHL championship.

Big helping hand from Saulnier for Barho Charity Hockey Day | Hockey | Sports | The Chronicle Herald
A weekend off is rare for Halifax hockey star Jill Saulnier.

Jill Saulnier rallies the community to overcome a tragedy - Eyes On The Prize
The Nova Scotia native is holding a charity hockey fundraiser for the Barho family.

2019 CWHL awards - The Ice Garden
The Ice Garden provides an overview of the nominees and the also-rans for each of the CWHL Awards

CWHL 2018/2019
Toronto Furies / CWHL league photographer Chris Tanouye has put up his 2018-19 gallery

Her or Me with Markham Thunder goalies EJ Milne-Price and Erica Howe - The Ice Garden
Sometimes it’s who would last at a mall, not a desert island

U Sports

UPDATE: Gryphons win U Sports championship at UPEI | Hockey | Sports | The Journal Pioneer
The Guelph Gryphons are national champions.

Guelph beats McGill for first national women’s hockey title - Sportsnet.ca
The Guelph Gryphons have earned their first women’s hockey national title in school history.

NCAA

Polls: USCHO - USA Today - The Ice Garden

NCAA Year in Review: Boston University, Colgate, and Providence - The Ice Garden
Last out of the tournament from the East — what do we think of their season?

NCAA Year in Review: Lindenwood, Mercyhurst, Penn State, and RIT - The Ice Garden
How did these four College Hockey America teams fare this season?

Pups and pucks: Annie Pankowski’s goals intersect on and off the ice - The Ice Garden
The Wisconsin senior is a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award and in the Top 3 for the Patty Kazmaier Award

NCAA Fantasy Hockey Week 24: Post Weekend Standings and FINAL WEEK SPECIAL RULE - The Ice Garden
One last chance for glory!

Minnesota Gopher Women Frozen Four Bound After Cracking Open Princeton Tigers Third Period NCAA - Hockey Wilderness
Minnesota and Princeton were neck and neck, even after an early third period goal until a couple of empty netters in the last 90 seconds earned the Gophers a 5-2 victory and a trip to the 2019 Frozen Four.

BC Women’s Hockey Falls 2-1 (OT) To Clarkson In NCAA Tournament, Ending Season - BC Interruption
A disappointing end to a disappointing season

Frozen Four field is set: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Clarkson, and Cornell advance - The Ice Garden
The ECAC and WCHA will be well-represented at next weekend’s Frozen Four

Gabel hopes to go out on high note | TheRecord.com
Kitchener native Loren Gabel will be a featured attraction Friday when the Clarkson Golden Knights face the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers at the NCAA Frozen Four tourney in Hamden, Conn.

Devastation of 2017 championship loss recalled as Badgers prep to face 2-time defending champion Clarkson in Frozen Four | College Hockey | chippewa.com
Clarkson defeated the Badgers in their last meeting, the 2017 national championship game in which UW outshot the Golden Knights 41-20 but lost 3-0.

BC Women’s Hockey Drops Overtime Decision at Clarkson - The Heights
Boston College women’s hockey’s season ended in heartbreak as it gave up the tying goal at the end of the third period before falling in overtime.

Syracuse loses 1st-ever NCAA tournament game at No. 1-seed Wisconsin - The Daily Orange - The Independent Student Newspaper of Syracuse, New York
For the last time in a Syracuse uniform, Allie Munroe skated through the postgame handshake line. For the last time, the senior defenseman embraced her teammates.

European club hockey

SDHL (Sweden) Luleå destroyed the gold party for Linköping | Aftonbladet
It was the old Luleå we got to see when it came to the most.

Luleå after tackling the star: “A fucking scandal actually” | Aftonbladet
Luleå also lost the second final match and Linköping is now just a victory from the SM gold.

Luleå shocked by Linköping in the first final match | Aftonbladet
Luleå were big favorites for the first final match - then Linköping shut out the reigning champions.

It’s a rematch! Luleå/MSSK and Linköping to go for gold - The Ice Garden
Will history be repeated or rewritten?

SDHL: HV71 forward Jenni Asserholt is retiring | Aftonbladet
One of Swedish women’s hockey players, Jenni Asserholt, ends.

WHL (Russia) Russian playoff preview: Can anyone take down Agidel? - The Ice Garden
With a recently-dynastic Tornado out of the picture, the road to the title goes through Bashkortostan

Women’s Hockey League Semi-Final Preview | CONWAY’S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
We are set for the start of the Russian Women’s Hockey League’s playoffs!

SWHL (Switzerland) Neuchâtel signs Canadian, Gwendoline Gendarme returns - swisshockeynews.ch

International Hockey

Here is the Damkronorna squad for the ice hockey World Cup in Finland 2019 | Aftonbladet
Eight debutants in the Queen's World Cup squad

AWIHL (Australia)

2018-19 AWIHL awards | Ice Hockey News Australia
The Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League have announced the winners of their 2018-19 season player awards.