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Connecticut Whale set to embark on new journey with excitement and anticipation

By Rick Menning

SIMSBURY, CT -- There's certainly no place like home for the holidays, and that is especially true when it comes to the Connecticut Whale of the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF).

For the next two weekends, leading right into the break at the end of the year, this state's women's professional ice hockey franchise and defending PHF regular-season champions will be settling into their new digs at the International Skating Center of Connecticut (ISCC).

Goodbye Danbury Ice Arena; hello ISCC!

Friday's (Dec. 9) inaugural game in Simsbury has all the makings of a gala attraction as The Pod takes on the always tough Minnesota Whitecaps in a 7 p.m. faceoff.

Connecticut Whale forward Kateřina Mrázová anticipates the puck drop at center ice as the Whale gained four points in last weekend's series against the Montreal Force.

After their opening home series against the Buffalo Beauts at the Milford Ice Arena was postponed due to weather-related travel issues in early November, the Whale went nearly a month without playing a single game.

Last weekend, Head Coach Colton Orr's squad finally had a chance to hit the ice again with a trip to Sept-Iles. The road warriors returned with a solid four-point effort that included a shootout loss followed by a victory against the host Montreal Force.

Connecticut and Minnesota battle it out again on Saturday, Dec. 10 in a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are available for both games at Both match-ups can also be seen on ESPN+.

Amazing talent on display

The stars will be out on Friday night, and throughout the season at ISCC as the Whale open the home portion of their Season 8 schedule.

Season 7 Most Valuable Player Kennedy Marchment and Season 7 Newcomer of the Year Taylor Girard have picked up where they left off as they each totaled three points in the series against Montreal.

Marchment’s goal during the Dec. 4 game against the Force secured the team’s first-ever victory against the new league franchise.

Janka Hlinka scored the first Whale goal of the 2022-23 campaign during the 4-3 shootout loss on Dec. 3. Emma Keenan also tallied her first goal in a Connecticut uniform on Sunday, opening the scoring in the 3-2 victory over the Montreal Force.

The Minnesota Whitecaps, meanwhile, are ranked third in the league standings and enter the weekend with a 2-0-2-2 record. They are the first team to clinch a weekend series sweep this season, taking down the Metropolitan Riveters back-to-back on Dec. 3 and 4.

The last time the team grabbed all available weekend points on home ice was in the final series of the 2019-20 season against the Whale Feb. 29 and March 1.

Special night for collegians

For a fearless five group of former Connecticut university standouts -- Abbie Ives, Melissa Samoskevich and Taylor Girard from Quinnipiac University (Hamden), and Emma Vlasic and Mallory Souliotis from Yale University (New Haven) -- playing in the state where they enjoyed so many memorable moments will be very special.

Those involved with Quinnipiac and Yale, at which women's ice hockey reigns supreme, will likely be watching their alumni closely as they now shine as professionals.

And to those who wonder what type of talent those two universities produce, both the Bobcats and Bulldogs were among the 11 teams in this year's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national tournament. The Bulldogs made it all the way to the Frozen Four.

All decked out with sparkle

The Connecticut Whale, who will be playing their first game of the season debuting their third jersey, will have company on the ice during the opening ceremony prior to Friday's game.

The 8-Under CT Northern Lights Girls Hockey program will stand with the Whale during the National Anthem, which will be sung by former Connecticut State Troubadour Nekita Waller.

Governor Ned Lamont and First Selectman of Simsbury Wendy Mack will be conducting the ceremonial puck drop.

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