The Premier Hockey Federation’s (PHF) Isobel Cup single-game final preview
🏒 How it works
Before we dive into today’s matchup, a quick refresher on the (quite complicated) state of women’s hockey, the season setup and how we arrived at today’s final.
The PHF (formerly NWHL) is the only professional women’s hockey league currently operating in North America. First established in 2015, the PHF offered to do what no women’s league — including the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League — had done before: pay its players.
- After the CWHL abruptly folded amid financial struggles in 2019, the game’s best — for various reasons — decided they didn’t want to join the PHF’s ranks, instead saying they wouldn’t play in any league until a sustainable cross-border venture was formed.
- And, thus, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) — and their Secret Dream Gap Tours — was born.
Flash forward to today, and the PHF still has incredible skill to boast in their recently expanded seven-team league. After concluding a record-breaking regular season that saw each team play 24 games, the top four squads skated into the postseason, playing a best-of-three semifinal series. Phew.
- And now, the championship between the Toronto Six andMinnesota Whitecaps is set, but only one hockey-crazed city can hoist the Isobel Cup.
🌊 Minnesota Whitecaps
After losing eight straight games to close out the regular season with a mediocre 10-11 record, it looked like Minnesota’s chances of reaching the Cup Final had washed away.
- Insert the postseason return of top tendy Amanda Leveille and suddenly, like pouring rain, everything changed.
After dethroning the three-time champs (and regular season–winning) Boston Pride with a quick two-game semifinal sweep, it’s clear the Whitecaps’ talent is nothing to squawk about as the squad looks for their first championship in four years.
In terms of top players, veteran forwards Jonna Albers and Natalie Snodgrass averaged nearly one point per game, each notching 10 goals on the season to lead the team in scoring. Consistency at its finest.
- Paired with the defensive backing of 2018 Olympic gold medalist American Sidney Morin, and, of course, the formidable Leveille, Minnesota is ready to wave the competition goodbye.
🍁 Toronto Six
Toronto is feeling good, as they should, after following up an impressive second-place regular season finish by securing the franchise’s first-ever spot in the Cup Final. Time to show off their Sunday best.
After rebounding from a Game 1 loss in their best-of-three semifinal series against the Connecticut Whale, the Six squad will need to focus on starting strong if they want to find success against the Whitecaps in tonight’s single-game final.
Of note, Toronto swept Minnesota in the teams’ four-game season series, on the back of elite offensive power and brick wall goaltending.
- Forward Brittany Howard was a goal-scoring machine all season, leading the team with 16, and averaging over a point per game. Most importantly, Howard’s been the reliable source of game-winners. Seriously clutch.
- On the other end of the ice, tendy Elaine Chuli has been a terror for her opponents, deflecting the puck from all angles, including a stunning Game 3 semifinal shutout win.
📺 How to tune in
In line with this year’s growing investment in women’s sports coverage, you can catch tonight’s opening puck drop on ESPN2 in the U.S. and TSN in Canada. Let’s go girls.