Five-hole! Connecticut Whale name top lieutenants to lead charge into PHF battle with Cup champs
By Rick Menning
MILFORD, CT-- With less than 48 hours to go before the defending Premier Hockey Federation regular-season champion Connecticut Whale face off against Boston on Saturday, the squad has named its five-star ice generals for the 2022-23 season.
When Head Coach Colton Orr's road warriors take on the defending Isobel Cup champion Pride Nov. 5 in a 7 p.m. attraction on ESPN+, five Whale players will have some extra detail on their uniforms.
Coming off a preseason campaign in which the Whale scored 11 goals in victories over the Buffalo Beauts and Metropolitan Riveters, the team announced Thursday that longtime veteran Shannon Turner will for the fourth consecutive season don the 'C', while Emma Vlasic Janine Weber, Alyssa Wohlfeiler and Kennedy Marchment will wear the 'A' for the blue and green throughout the 2022-23 PHF season.
A rock solid foundation
A member of the inaugural Whale squad in 2015-16, Turner has spent her entire professional
career in Connecticut and has set multiple franchise records. She has been a leader on and off the ice, leading the team to its first ever Isobel Cup Final appearance in 2022 while raising money and awareness for adolescent mental health.
For her efforts last season, Turner was awarded one of the Premier Hockey Federation’s six Foundation Awards, an annual recognition of players who actively apply the core values of hockey to their community and who grow and improve hockey culture.
“Having the privilege of being captain for the Whale this year is humbling and an honor I don’t take lightly,” said Turner. “Everyone in our locker room is a leader and being chosen to wear the C is truly a privilege."
Vlasic, Weber and Wohlfeiler are each entering their fourth seasons as members of the Pod,
though Weber and Wohlfeiler’s professional careers have lasted more than a decade each and seen the two compete in Europe, Sweden and Germany before finding a home in Connecticut.
All three are lauded for their contributions on and off the ice and in the locker room.
During her first season in the PHF in 2021-22, Marchment led the league in points and was
awarded Most Valuable Player after winning the regular season and helping lead the team to
its first ever Isobel Cup Final appearance. In May, she signed a two-year contract to remain
with the Whale through the 2023-24 season.
“I am honored to be a part of the leadership group this season,” Marchment said. “This team’s culture is very family-oriented and every individual on our team brings something that
contributes to the Whale’s on- and off-ice success. As a leader, I am just hoping to contribute my best effort and positive attitude to support the [team’s] goals.”
The Whale look to build upon the successes of the 2021-22 season and believe there is no better group to lead them on the ice and in the locker room.
Power surge in tune-up
Following up on their 7-1 road triumph against the Buffalo Beauts the previous weekend, the Connecticut Whale once again put their all-around skills on display with another convincing showing against the Metropolitan Riveters on Saturday afternoon at the Milford Ice Arena.
This time, however, the 4-1 outcome in their second and final preseason game was even more important as their Premier Hockey Federation opener against the Isobel Cup champion Boston Pride looms on the horizon.
Kennedy Marchment struck for a pair of second-period goals, and Janka Hlinka and Taylor Girard added first-period tallies as the Whale succeeded in their quest to be laser-focused in preparation for the super showdown to start the regular season in Boston.
Along with winning a majority of the puck battles in the neutral zone, the Whale demonstrated its quickness in the transition game with multiple opportunities in the offensive end.
Meanwhile, in the defensive zone, the Whale killed off several penalties and used good poke checks to disrupt the Riveters' rushes.
Fast start against the Rivs
Only minutes into their second and final preseason contest -- this time at their practice rink in Milford -- the Whale went on the attack from the outset as Hlinka completed a breakaway opportunity from just outside the blue line with a one-time blast from the right side for the 1-0 advantage.
Then, with seven minutes gone in the first period, Taylor Girard found the 5-hole from the top of the right circle to put the Whale ahead 2-0. Really aggressive play by the entire squad.
Connecticut continued its dominant showing in the second period as Kennedy Marchment fine-tuned her game for the regular season with a pair of goals within a five-minute span. Her first came on the power play, and the second a dazzler while streaking across the low slot.
The Whale continued to buzz around the goalmouth in the latter stages of the second period.
The Riveters scored their goal early in the third period.
Whaley good comments
***PHF 2021-22 Most Valuable Player Kennedy Marchment on the focus this week: "We've been trying to keep our practices up-tempo. We're doing a lot of fast-paced drills to get ready for (Boston). There's a lot of redemption on the line."
***Head Coach Colton Orr on the preseason wins and the players' mindset heading into the Boston game: "They're ready to go. We know these are exhibition games but we have a mission in mind. It's going to be an emotional night but a good way to kick off our season."
Veteran captain Shannon Turner on the opener at Boston Nov. 5: "They're a really talented team; we're a really talented team. It will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes. In the Cup final they capitalized on two minutes of errors. We must focus on closing out games."
(Editor's Note: Portions of this article are from the Connecticut Whale's Nov. 3 press release and CTSportStars thanks the organization for its submission.)