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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: It’s playoff time!

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The CWHL playoff picture is set, and the NWHL and NCAA are shaping up.

Julie Chu kisses the Clarkson Cup, 2017
Julie Chu kisses the Clarkson Cup after winning it in 2017. Who will hoist it this year?
Chris Tanouye - CWHL

It’s the most exciting time of the women’s hockey season: playoff time! Most of the leagues are either wrapping up or have wrapped up, and we’re looking at a lot of playoff games over the next several weeks. A quick overview:

USports and SDHL playoffs have already begun, and the Russian WHL is winding down at the end of its season. The NWHL has one weekend remaining, after which the bottom two seeds—the Metropolitan Riveters and Connecticut Whale—will play each other in a play-in game to determine which of them will head to the semifinals, which begin March 9th. The winner of the play-in game will play the regular-season champion, a title that could go to either the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, or Minnesota Whitecaps, who are all within two points of each other at the top of the standings.

The CWHL season wrapped up last night with the Toronto Furies pulling off an amazing late-season push and clinching the fourth and last playoff spot in the final game of the season, a 3-1 win over the Markham Thunder. Playoff teams will have a weekend off before the semifinals, which will be three-game series that start on March 8th. As the top two seeds, the Calgary Inferno and les Canadiennes de Montréal will be hosting Toronto and Markham, respectively.

Three of the four NCAA conferences have finished play—the CHA has one more weekend left, but all the teams make the playoffs in that conference, so no one is waiting to find out if they’ve been eliminated. The University of Vermont knocked out Maine last weekend to make the postseason and solidify the Hockey East playoff picture. Thanks to Ohio State sweeping Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota took the top seed in the WCHA—since the top seed gets a bye to the semifinals in that conference, I hope all the Minnesota players are suitably grateful to Andrea Braendli. The ECAC, WCHA, and Hockey East play their quarterfinals this coming weekend, and then the next weekend will see champions crowned in all four conferences (the CHA compresses its entire tournament into one weekend). The conference championship winners over the next couple weeks will help determine our NCAA championship field, so stay tuned—will we have any surprise upsets make the tournament?

NCAA

Polls: USCHO - USA Today - The Ice Garden

NCAA Bracketology: Quarterfinals - The Ice Garden
We are at the most exciting time of the year for college hockey.

Top rookie performances in the NCAA - The Ice Garden
Who stands out in this year’s freshman class?

Top 10 Patty Kazmaier finalists released - The Ice Garden
A quick look at who’s nominated for the top player in women’s hockey

What If? The 2019 NCAA Women’s Hockey Tournament Pairwise Predictor - BC Interruption
Predict results and see the projected NCAA tournament field

Minnesota Gopher Women Best Bemidji State Beavers with Sweep, Become WCHA Regular Season Champs NCAA - Hockey Wilderness
In the final game of the regular season Minnesota beat Bemidji State 4-3. Also, thanks to the result of the Wisconsin-Ohio State game the Gophers are the WCHA regular season champions.

BC Women’s Hockey Stumbles To 3-3 Draw At New Hampshire, Hockey East Tournament Awaits - BC Interruption
Thanks to a wild weekend nationally, BC’s in about the same position they started in

Merrimack Roundup: Women’s hockey draws with Northeastern on senior night | Local Sports | eagletribune.com
NORTH ANDOVER — It took 65 minutes to decide Saturday’s contest inside Lawler Rink, and with a crowd of nearly 1,000 on hand, the Merrimack College women’s ice hockey team

Women’s Hockey: No. 10 Ohio State costs No. 1 Wisconsin conference title with two shootout wins | The Lantern

WCHA women's commissioner Million relishing upcoming USA Hockey role | Grand Forks Herald

A deeply-forged friendship | Wisconsin Athletics
Rolfes and Shaver's connection rooted in loss [CW: suicide]

International hockey

Female officials: Glass ceiling persists in hockey despite recent firsts - Sportsnet.ca
A woman who helped forge a path for female hockey officials in Canada says there’s still work to be done in combating gender inequality across the sport.

‘One of the best hockey games ever’: An oral history of the 2014 women’s Olympic gold-medal game – The Athletic (SUBSCRIPTION)
Relive the women’s gold-medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics between Canada and the United States through the eyes of those involved.

Off ice observations from the Rivalry Series - The Ice Garden
Some thoughts about the broadcast and attendance

So You Want To Broadcast a Women’s Hockey Game
Over the past week, the United States and Canadian women’s national teams took the ice for a three-game Rivalry Series, with games held in London and Toronto, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.

CWHL

Les Canadiennes split series against Thunder to finish regular season - Eyes On The Prize
The two teams will meet again in the first round of the playoffs.

CWHL Recap: Toronto Furies win, Markham Thunder lose in playoff race - Nafio and Annie
It’s a race to the finish line and every point counts.

CWHL: Markham Thunder clinch playoff berth, Toronto Furies beat Blades - Pension Plan Puppets
Laura Stacey scores the game-winner to send the Thunder to the postseason.

Calgary Inferno wrap up top spot in CWHL with three wins in China | canada.com
The Calgary Inferno fire into the Canadian Women’s Hockey League playoffs as the league’s top seed.The local club secured first place with a perfect trip overseas in China, earning three wins in games against the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays.

Canadiennes hospital visit gives perspective ahead of annual fundraiser - Eyes On The Prize
The team’s Pink in the Rink game for breast cancer is on Saturday at Place Bell.

From champions to winless, Blades have a long way to go – Boston Herald
The Worcester Blades believe they are building a foundation to get back to the Clarkson Cup. It’s a process not about short-term wins and losses, which is probably good given their 0-26 record in the six-team Canadian Women’s Hockey League heading into the final weekend of the season.

Toronto Furies are going to the CWHL Clarkson Cup Playoffs - Pension Plan Puppets
The Furies won five straight at the end of the season and will face Calgary Inferno in the semifinals.

NWHL

Mock Trade Deadline: NWHL edition - The Ice Garden
What if today was deadline day for the NWHL, too?

NWHL Weekend Wrap: Week Fifteen
The Boston Pride dominated the Metropolitan Riveters in a Monday matinee in the lone NWHL action this past long weekend.

Boston Pride: McKenna Brand Has Bolstered Boston’s Offense
McKenna Brand: “It’s really cool to be in the NWHL right now, this is only the 4th year. To be a part of the early years is something that’s pretty cool.”

Behind the Glass: Dempsey makes history - The Ice Garden
Jillian Dempsey is the NWHL’s all-time leading goal scorer and other news, notes, and numbers from the last week

The NWHL playoff picture - The Ice Garden
The top three seeds are still up for grabs

NWHL Draft Pick Watch: Who will be available for the postseason? - The Ice Garden
An early exit for these players’ college teams could be a bonus for their teams in the NWHL.

Beauts earn sixth straight win on Fan Appreciation Night
The Buffalo Beauts were the hottest team in the NWHL, winning five straight games prior to the league’s All-Star break in mid-February.

#NWHL: Jessica Koizumi, Shenae Lundberg among several players added to Connecticut Whale roster – Erica L. Ayala
Jessica Koizumi, Shenae Lundberg, Vanessa Gagnon, Erin O’Neil, & Tess Adams join The Pod!

Proud of her Canadian roots, Beauts’ Kelly Babstock becomes U.S. citizen – The Buffalo News
Kelly Babstock quizzed her Buffalo Beauts teammates on the bus rides to away games, pulling the questions from a study guide used to prepare immigrants for a civics test required to become U.S. citizens, one of the final hurdles on a path that stretches for years.

‘Figure it out for yourself’: Former Badgers face daily challenges in pursuit of pro careers | The Daily Cardinal
Some very interesting information here although not all of it accurate (watch particularly for conflating NWHL and CWHL practices and Hockey Canada vs USA Hockey).

U Sports

Playoff schedule
(click on “Play-off 2018-19” and select March from the drop down to see games yet to be played)

Canadian men’s and women’s hockey teams for 2019 FISU Winter Universiade - ISN
U SPORTS announced Friday the rosters for Canada’s men’s and women’s hockey teams set to compete at the 2019 FISU Winter Universiade.

Herd preps for Panda-monium - Winnipeg Free Press
It was a hectic weekend for Manitoba Bison athletics.... - Amateur - Winnipeg Free Press.

Pandas embarking on playoff path as top-ranked hockey squad | Montreal Gazette
Whatever happens the rest of the year, Howie Draper already has a 2019 title to his credit.The University of Alberta Pandas hockey coach won championship gold with Team Canada at the U-18 women’s worlds in Japan last month.

Pandas sure know how to shut the puck out | National Post
The University of Alberta Pandas may very well be rewriting the book when it comes to goaltending.

Villeneuve, Clapperton named hockey MVPs | Sports | The Chronicle Herald
Katryne Villeneuve and Chris Clapperton are this year’s AUS hockey MVPs

European club hockey

WHL (Russia) Women’s Hockey Update: February 19th, 2019 | CONWAY'S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
The Women's Hockey League regular season is nearing its end, and we'll take a look at how the battles for the final playoff places are shaping up.

Naisten Liiga (Finland) Behind The Mask: Tiina Ranne - The Ice Garden
Friendship and family connections give KalPa’s netminder plenty of positivity.

SDHL (Sweden) SDHL: HV71 to the semifinals | Aftonbladet
HV71 shocked the favorite Leksand and it was the goal queen Maja Jakobsson, 23, who became match hero with two goals in the decisive quarter-finals.

Linköping’s Susanna Tapani chose ringette over quarterfinal game | Aftonbladet
Linköping is ready for the SM semifinal after victory against Djurgården.

AWIHL (Australia)

Melbourne Ice Women named Victorian Team of the Year | Ice Hockey News Australia
The Melbourne Ice Women have been named the 2018 Team of the Year at the Victorian Sports Awards yesterday at Marvel Stadium in Docklands.

Tickets now available for 2019 AWIHL playoffs | Ice Hockey News Australia
Tickets for the 2019 AWIHL playoffs are now available via Trybooking.com.

2018-19 AWIHL season: Round 12 | Ice Hockey News Australia
The final round of the 2018-19 Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League season has finished with wins for the Melbourne Ice and Perth Inferno.

U18

Canada Games: Returning From Injury, Marianne Picard Has Nothing To Lose
Marianne Picard, a center for Team Quebec, wasn’t supposed to be at the Canada Winter Games. In fact, she was barely supposed to be back on the ice.

Canada Games: Kennesha Miswaggon Brings Vast Experience to Team Manitoba
Kennesha Miswaggon was already going far for hockey by the time she realized how far hockey could take her.

Canada Games: Abby Newhook Might Be Newfoundland’s Next Star
The list of elite women’s hockey players from Newfoundland & Labrador isn’t particularly long, but it’s been growing quickly in recent years. Abby Newhook’s name could soon be near the top.