Women’s Hockey Top 6: NWHL responds to Burke; Engstrom and discipline; Spoon trick?


1. NWHL responds to Brian Burke interview.

Last week I interviewed Brian Burke about women’s hockey. Readers took to the article with mixed emotions and rightfully so. His position on the two leagues was made clear, and his words were sharp. That’s just how Burke operates.

Since Burke sits on the Board of Governors of the CWHL (for now) and acts as a strong advocate for the league, I felt it was important to give the NWHL the opportunity to respond what Burke said.

From Jake Duhaime with NWHL Public Relations:

“Brian is 100 percent correct when it comes to the marketing, sponsorship and promotion of women’s hockey.

First, voting with your feet is one of the best ways to support the NWHL, CWHL and women’s hockey. This is not specific to buying tickets, but also includes watching games on NESN / ESPN3 / NWHL Cross-Ice Pass, wearing merchandise, making a donation to the NWHL Foundation, etc.

Corporate America is keenly aware of who controls the majority of household spending and the company Brian cited (P&G) has done a fantastic job connecting with Moms through their Olympic campaign and teens with their USA Gymnastics sponsorship. We hope the brand manager at Tide sees this and reaches out, as there are some brand synergies we’d like to discuss when it comes to washing hockey jerseys. The unsung hero of any hockey team is the person who cleans the equipment and it is no different with the NWHL.

Our league believes that what Under Armour was able to accomplish with Misty Copeland can be duplicated with any NWHL player. We’re excited that our corporate sponsors, the first of which (Dunkin’ Donuts) was announced on Tuesday), will have the opportunity to inspire the nearly 70,000 women registered with USA Hockey. Their generous support gives the next generation a chance to dream bigger than ever before. We’re also excited to see what our players do on social media with the team branded gift cards they’ll be receiving as part of this agreement and fans are already boastful about “The NWHL Runs On Dunkin’.”

While Brian mentioned the media coverage, which as been fantastic, TV rights fuel the sports industry. The Arizona Diamondbacks signed a $1.5 billion dollar RSN TV deal in February and then came to terms with Zack Greinke for $206.5 million last week. That’s not an accident.

On a more realistic note, ESPN is paying $12 million annually for the WNBA and $7.5 million each year for the Little League World Series, which saw its biggest all-time rating in 2014 thanks to Mo’ne Davis. The UConn Women’s Basketball Team signed a four-year, $4.55 million dollar deal with SNY in 2012, a landmark for regional sports networks and women’s sports.

They don’t really get mentioned in this discussion, but John Skipper (ESPN), Les Moonves (CBS), Mark Lazarus (NBC) and Eric Shanks (FOX) hold some very significant cards here. These four are in position to grow women’s hockey more than anyone else.”

There you go. Interpret it how you see fit.

As far as a comment from the NHL on Burke’s statements regarding investing in a women’s league – no dice, as of yet.

I’ll have more on this topic in this week’s notebook.

2. Take it outside, ladies.

The other HUGE announcement over the weekend was Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet releasing the news the Boston Pride (NWHL) and Les Canadiennes de Montreal (CWHL) will participate in a cross-league game at the Winter Classic site in New England.

The match will is on December 31, before the Alumni Game. Both leagues are continuing to offer ‘no comment’ regarding the announcement by Friedman. However, I’ve been able to confirm the game will take place as reported but with some tweaks that will be announced – hopefully – in the next few days.

Two important takeaways from all this:

First, this game is an effort that was PURSUED BY THE NHL. Yes, you read that right. The NHL went to the women’s leagues to put this together.

Second, there remains a massive issue attempting to be worked out with USA Hockey. The situation has not changed from Saturday night. The US women’s national team players are still being kept from the outdoor game because of a commitment with USA Hockey to attend training camp for Worlds. The game takes place on the last day of camp. I along with others have requested comment from USA Hockey since the story broke and have not heard back.

Keep letting USA Hockey know they should #LetThemPlay


  1 2 3 TOTAL  
Buffalo Beauts @ 2 1 3 6  
Boston Pride 5 1 1 7  
  1 2 3 TOTAL  
New York Riveters (2-5-0) @ 0 0 1 1  
Boston Pride (5-3-0) 0 0 4 4  
  1 2 3 TOTAL  
Buffalo Beauts (1-5-2) @ 1 1 0 2  
Connecticut Whale (7-0-0) 0 1 1 3 S/O

3. League first: Supplemental discipline.

In Sunday’s contest between the Buffalo Beauts and the Connecticut Whale, an incident occured between Buffalo’s Meghan Duggan and Connecticut’s Molly Engstrom. Melissa Kania with Victory Press describes what went down:

Duggan rejoined the Beauts for Sunday’s game after missing Saturday’s game coaching with Clarkson, but appeared to be injured during the game. The injury happened behind the play (out of camera view), but Molly Engstrom received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for illegal head contact.

Duggan left the game and did not return to the ice, though she did watch the rest of the game with Beauts GM Linda Mroz.

Per the NWHL, Engstrom is being reviewed by the league for supplemental discipline.

This is a first for the NWHL. Fans are demanding more clarity of the rules for everything, from injury reporting to game rules to supplemental discipline.


One gray area had been Commissioner Dani Rylan’s involvement in the discipline process. Rylan wears two hats this season, one as the Commish and one as GM of the New York Riveters. Rylan has indicated she’s probably going to hand over the GM reigns to someone else next season. Being an GM and a commissioner can run in conflict of each other on many occasions, especially in the area of discipline.

Reported by Kate Cimini earlier today, the NWHL bringing in someone independent and acutely aware of how to enforce supplemental discipline; none other than Department of Player Safety Director Patrick Burke.


No word if he’s going to voice over any NWHL videos. If he doesn’t have the time to, I’m sure Wysh will do his impression of Burkie (either one, they sound the same) for no cost.


4. Jenny Scrivens starts for the first time in six years.

Riveters goaltenders Nana Fujimoto and backup Shenae Lundberg are both injured leaving the net to Jenny Scrivens, league PR guru and wife of goaltender Ben. This was Scrivens first start in six years after she left Cornell University. The score doesn’t indicate how well Scrivens played. Watch the game in its entirety via ESPN.

To backup Scrivens, the Riveters signed former Boston College netminder Corinne Boyles to a one day contract. The process and decision to sign an emergency goaltender, in addition to updating everyone on the injury status of players, are other areas of clarity the league is going to have to decide whether or not to make public.


  1 2 3 TOTAL
Toronto Furies @ 1 1 3 5
Calgary Inferno 2 5 2 9
  1 2 3 TOTAL
Brampton Thunder @ 3 0 2 5
Boston Blades 0 1 1 2
  1 2 3 TOTAL
Toronto Furies (2-9-1) @ 2 4 0 6
Calgary Inferno (10-2-0) 1 1 3 5
  1 2 3 TOTAL
Brampton Thunder (8-4-0) @ 0 1 3 4
Boston Blades (1-11-0) 0 1 1 2


5. Spoon trick?

If an Ovechtrick is 8 goals in one game, what do you call 5 goals in one game? How about a Spoon trick?

Over the two game series against the strong Calgary Inferno, Toronto Furies forward Natalie Spooner collected a total of 8 points. Of those 8 points, 5 were goals collected in Sunday’s game.

Saturday’s game saw the Inferno put up 9 goals on Toronto. In the game, Spooner picked up 12 penalty minutes, which included a 10 minute misconduct for a checking from behind. Perhaps revenge is a dish best served with a spoon…

The next game is when Spooner went off with the 5 goals plus an assist to factor in to all six scoring plays for Toronto. The Furies withstood a furious 3 goal comeback attempt by the Inferno to pick up their second win of the season.

if Natalie does this again, don’t go throwing metal spoons on the ice. Plastic ones, maybe, but not metal. And definitely no sporks.

6. Thunder struck!

The Boston Blades played six straight games against the Brampton Thunder and were swept in the series. The Thunder’s stroke of scheduling luck has allowed them to remain competitive growing their record to 8-4-0. Leading the pack is the dynamic goaltending duo of Liz Knox and Erica Howe each picking up a win over the weekend. Jamie Lee Rattray topped the Thunder scorers with 4 points in two games.

Eight of the last 12 games for the Thunder are against either Les Canadiennes de Montreal (7-1-0) or the Calgary Inferno (10-2-0).