The PHF's seventh All-Star event
📖 The history
Following the PWHPA’s All-Star Weekend in December, the PHF’s (formerly NWHL) top talents are ready to take the ice for a showcase of their own. But first, some context on the (quite complicated) state of women’s hockey.
The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) was first established in 2015 to provide a professional league for hockey’s greatest female talents. While the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) was known for its quality of play, the PHF (then National Women’s Hockey League) offered to do what no women’s league had done before: pay its players.
- While talks of a merger between the two were prevalent, league structure differences — the CWHL was a Canadian non-profit and the PHF an American commercial organization — hindered any potential to do so.
Then, in 2019, the CWHL abruptly folded amid financial struggles. However, despite the PHF being the only remaining league, 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 (ideally in partnership with the NHL) 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 while the PWHPA’s top talent has vowed they are never ever getting back together with the PHF, North America’s only pro women’s hockey league still has incredible skill to boast.
And now, after a COVID-19–related pause, the event will finally take place in the Great White North, as the second-in-the-league Toronto Six play host. Get your game on.
⚙️ The format
Piggybacking off the excitement and passion for international hockey, the PHF has divided its 45 All-Stars into three teams — Team Canada, Team USA and Team World — to compete in a round-robin tournament culminating in a championship match.
- Players were selected by the league in consultation with PHF team staff, before players voted for who should be each team’s captain. Nothing like linemate love.
The three-game round-robin will begin with a classic Team Canada vs. Team USA bout. From there, the winner will take on Team World in the second-game before the loser follows suit for game three.
- Each duel will consist of two fast-paced seven-minute periods of four-on-four action, with a one-round shootout occurring between periods where team’s can add a bonus goal to the main score. Efficiency with a side of chaos.
- If the games are tied at the end of regulation, a three-round shootout will take place to determine a victor.
But it all ramps up for the grand finale where the top two round-robin teams (if there’s a tie, as determined by goal differential) will compete in the title game to be crowned All-Star champion.
- With the stakes raised, players will have one extra minute in each period for two eight-minute four-on-four periods. In the case of a tie, a four-minute three-on-three overtime will take place before heading to a shootout. Intense
- While the winning squad may only gain bragging rights, the real prize is showcasing elite women’s hockey talent across the nation. If you can see it, you can be it.
⭐ Players to watch
Team Canada: The maple-lovers are certainly poised to bring their “eh” game. Captained by Boston Pride sensation and now five-time All-Star Kaleigh Fratkin, and supported by the Montréal Force’s top scoring duo of Jade Downie-Landry and Ann-Sophie Bettez, this squad should dominate.
- Filling out the red and white’s lineup are fan favorites sustainable pay trailblazer Mikyla Grant-Mentis from the Buffalo Beauts and diversity advocate Saroya Tinker from the hosting Six. Shine bright like an All-Star.
Team USA: The stars and stripes boast a roster chock-full of toughness and speed. With the Metropolitan Riveters gritty six-time All-Star Madison Packer as captain and Boston’s prolific five-time All-Star Jillian Dempsey on the wing, this offense will leave opponents shaking in their skates.
- Add in Boston speedster Allie Thunstrom and 2018 Olympic gold medalists forward Amanda Pelkey and defender Kali Flanagan, there’s no doubt this team will polish up real nice.
Team World: With players representing Austria, China, Czechia, Finland, Hungary and Sweden, this global team is truly the wild card contender.
- Captained by productive Connecticut Whale forward Kateřina Mrázová, the star power is rounded out by her fellow Czech 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship bronze medalists Denisa Křížová (Minnesota Whitecaps), Dominika Lásková (Toronto) and Aneta Tejralová (Boston). Velmi dobře.
📺 How to tune in
With broadcasting companies finally leveling up their coverage of women’s sports, the tourney will be aired on ESPN2 in the U.S. and on TSN platforms in Canada at 7 p.m. ET. Primetime, baby!
- Even more fun, it’s national corn chip day, so grab some dip and prep a delicious viewing snack the way we like our hockey: chippy and chirpy.