Grindstone stoked for PWHL playoffs!

By Darcie Hum

It is time to look forward to the Second Season, which means playoff hockey!

The Grindstone Award Foundation is stoked to follow and support the PWHL as it enters its first-ever post-season.

The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) inaugural season finished right down to the wire, with the last playoff team determined when the final buzzer sounded between PWHL Toronto and PWHL Ottawa.

This new women’s league has some unique rules which are quite refreshing, including:

  • the team finishing first in the standings chooses a semifinal opponent between the 3rd and 4th place teams; 
  •  second seed overall gets home ice advantage for their semifinal series, and;
  • teams eliminated from playoffs would need to obtain as many wins/points in the standings in order to secure the first overall pick 

Essentially, the last one means that teams are discouraged from tanking their seasons, a strategy that has been, at times, frowned upon by fans seeing a lackluster effort.

As for the first-place team, once the last game ended – they had 24 hours to make a decision. So, PWHL Toronto kept the 1 vs. 4 tradition and selected PWHL Minnesota (#4) as their opponent, leaving the #2 seed, PWHL Montréal, facing #3 PWHL Boston in the other semifinal.

A few things to look for in the first series (Toronto vs. Minnesota) include the play of skilled forwards such as Nathalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse for Toronto; PWHL’s first overall pick Taylor Heise, along with Grace Zumwinkle for Minnesota. Abby Boreen, who happens to be Heise’s best friend, has just been signed to a standard player contract – will this spark the both of them? Also, a battle of national team goaltenders between Kristin Campbell (Team Canada) and Nicole Hensley (Team USA).

All signs are pointing to a classic playoff battle between Boston and Montréal, adding a new, all-female chapter to an already-storied rivalry. Marie-Philip Poulin will face off yet again against Hilary Knight; another national team goaltender duel awaits between Ann-Renée Desbiens (Team Canada) and Aerin Frankel (Team USA). Patrolling the blue line on one end is Erin Ambrose, with Megan Keller on the other side. Both play monster minutes in all situations, and contribute to the offense. Buckle up!

The Grindstone Award Foundation will be present at Game No. 2 in Toronto at the Coca-Cola Coliseum. Come by to say hello, and help support the growth of female hockey!