The opening weekend of Premier Hockey Federation action saw overtime, a shootout, and an Isobel Cup championship rematch. The expansion team Montreal Force earned their first win in franchise history coming from behind in the third period to beat the Buffalo Beauts 5-4 in a shootout.
“A good win for our group, I thought we got better as the game progressed,” said Force coach Peter Smith. “I highly like the third period, we still have a lot of things to work on but it's great to get the first win on the road.”
Captain Ann-Sophie Bettez scored the first goal in franchise history on a late first-period power play.
Bettez and Sarah Lefort, who both played with the PWHPA last season, each finished the game with a goal and an assist. Trailing 3-2 heading into the third, it was Lefort, with Bettez assisting, who put the comeback in motion ending regulation knotted 4-4. In the shootout, Samantha Isbell scored the winner in the eighth round giving Montreal their first win.
In other action, the Toronto Six required overtime to defeat the Minnesota Whitecaps 3-2 in front of a sold-out home crowd at the Canlan Sports complex at York University.
“The energy was amazing, I was on the edge of my seat,” said Sami Jo Small, president of the Toronto Six and former Canadian national team netminder. “Winning in overtime was really special, but equally exciting was having the team together, it was incredible to watch them play. They’re fast and they’re fun, and the crowd was electric today.”
Brittany Howard scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, and added an assist to hit the scoresheet on each of Toronto’s goals. Howard is in her first season in the PHF after scoring 12 points in nine games last season playing with the PWHPA.
In the last game of opening day action, the Boston Pride and Connecticut Whale faced off in a rematch of last year’s Isobel Cup final. Boston, as they did last year, took the win to begin their attempt to win their third consecutive PHF title.
Corinne Schroeder was the game’s first star, stopping all 36 shots she faced in Boston’s 4-0 shutout win. It was Schroeder’s professional debut after the 23-year-old spent last season with Quinnipiac, using her extra season of NCAA eligibility following four seasons in net backstopping Boston University.
Offensively, Loren Gabel scored a pair of goals for the Pride while Allie Thunstrom scored her first in a Boston uniform after moving from the Minnesota Whitecaps in the off-season.
The game-winner went to rookie Elizabeth Giguere early in the second period. Giguere is a former Patty Kazmaier Award winner as the top player in the NCAA and represented Canada in U-18 world competition before her NCAA career.
The PHF is back in action Sunday. The PHF is currently North America’s only professional women’s hockey league.