The Premier Ice Hockey Federation is back in business and bigger than ever.

Seven teams, including expansion Montreal Force, will begin their race for the coveted Isobel Cup as the PHF kicks off its eighth season on Saturday.

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Nearly every roster has experienced significant turnover since the Boston Pride won their second straight championship last spring, promising to make the upcoming season more dynamic and exciting than ever as a long roster of new talent enters the mix.

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And who could these skaters be? Glad you asked.

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Before the PHF kicks off, here’s what you need to know about the league, its top players, potential rising stars, and other unique features.

When does the season start and how long does it last?

The PHF starts its 84-game regular season with three options: Minnesota in Toronto (2pm ET), Connecticut in Boston (7pm start) and Montreal in Buffalo (7pm start). The list of 24 games for each club will last until Sunday, March 12, after which the Isobel Cup playoffs will begin.

This is the first full PHF schedule from 2019-2020.

How to watch games?

Sportzshala+ will be the exclusive home of PHF games in the US for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons. Fans can register here to stream all games.

In Canada, TSN subscribers can enjoy PHF games live on the station’s five platforms or stream online through the TSN Direct app.

What is the playoff format and when does the postseason start?

The 2023 Isobel Cup playoffs will begin in March. More details on the postseason, including its format and other key dates, will be announced at a later date.

Tell me about the teams.

The PHF, formerly known as the National Women’s Hockey League, began operations in the 2015/16 season with four teams: The Metropolitan Riveters, Connecticut Whale, Boston Pride and Buffalo Beauts. The league expanded to five teams in 2018–19 with the Minnesota Whitecaps and was joined by the expansion Toronto Six in the 2020–21 season. This will be the first season for PHF’s new expansion team, the Montreal Force.

Boston has won more championships (three) than any other team and is the reigning Isobel Cup winner. Every club except the Six (and apparently Force) has played at least one league game, and four of the six finals have been decided by a single goal.

Connecticut had its best season in 2021–22, earning a top PHF record (15–3–2) and top playoff seed. The Whale reached their first Isobel Cup final and led the Pride 2-1 in the middle of regulation before ultimately losing 3-2.

Since winning the Isobel Cup in 2018, the Met has been turning the wheels, and this off-season there have been major changes to get them on the right track. The Riveters have a new general manager, Tory Charron, a new coach, Venla Hovey, and a completely revamped roster that includes just three players from last season.

Minnesota has made an effort to increase their depth from last season. The Whitecaps were in trouble after goaltender Amanda LeVail was injured and their blue line was often questioned. They hope that a series of additions made after fifth place in the spring will be the spark.

Buffalo has appeared in four consecutive Isobel Cup Finals from 2016 to 2019, winning the trophy only once in 2017. However, it has been a difficult couple of seasons for the Handsomes, who have not shown enough consistent offense. The return of Mikila Grant-Mentiz should help with this. She previously played with Buffalo in the 2019-20 season and signed an $80,000 one-year deal — the most lucrative deal for women’s hockey ever — to rejoin the Belles this season.

Toronto has the distinction of never losing in Canada. They will put this streak on the line when they face the Buffalo in their rookie season.

Montreal will play its first home game on November 26 against the Riveters at the Center on 21/21. The Force will play arenas throughout the province of Quebec throughout the season to bring women’s hockey to the widest possible audience.

Who are the best players?

It will be interesting to watch how Grant Mentis is pulled from Toronto to Buffalo. She was the PHF MVP for the 2020-21 season and will draw a lot of attention trying to provoke an offensive attack from the Beauties.

Kennedy Marchment of Connecticut won the MVP award last season, leading the league with 33 points in 20 games. Her teammate Taylor Girard was Rookie of the Year with 11 goals and 24 points in 20 games.

Riveters captain Madison Packer is an impressive offensive force who consistently proves himself to be one of the best players in the league. She finishes the season with 23 points and is ready for another strong campaign.

LeVail’s return means a lot to the Whitecaps and the league as a whole, as a star has returned to their ranks. She has been named PHF Goaltender of the Year twice and is a two-time Isobel Cup Champion, making Minnesota a real star.

What new players should I be aware of?

Elisabeth Giguere and Lauren Gable will join the two-time Pride champion to make their roster even more dynamic. Giguere is the Patty Kazmaier Award winner of Clarkson University, who delayed turning pro last season to spend another year in the NCAA.

Gable previously worked for the Women’s Professional Hockey Association but decided to join the PHF after receiving an offer from Boston last summer. Last season, the Pride struggled to get the puck into the net, and Gigueret and Gabel should help in this.

Brittany Howard is another former PWHA figure skater who decided to become a free agent by signing with Toronto in June. Dynamic offensive talents will play an important role in fueling new attacks for the Six.

Amanda Pelkey ​​is an old face back in the league. She spent three seasons with the Pride between 2015 and 2019 and will now play for the Riveters. The former Team USA member is a two-time World Championship gold medalist and won Olympic gold in 2018.

Another new addition to the Riveters is goaltender Rachel McQuigge, who just finished a sensational season at Princeton with a .938 shooting percentage and 1.88 goals against average.

Olivia Knowles of Buffalo should also get some attention. The quarterback captained the University of Minnesota women’s team last season and will help secure the Belles’ blue line.

I heard there’s a team playing games at the mall in New Jersey.

Yes, the Riveters will play their home games (for the next three years) at the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, NJ. The standard size ice rink will be surrounded by other traditional mall features such as an indoor water park and a Ferris wheel.

This is a unique way to bring more fans to Riveters games. The skating rink can hold up to 2,000 people, but the Riveters only expect to fill about 1,000 seats they will set up themselves, on the first level to begin with, with the third level allowing passers-by in the mall to watch. Riveters in action for free.

What other fun facts can you share ahead of the first shot of the puck?

PHF has set an all-time high salary cap of $750,000 per team for this season, including a $562,500 floor.

Brianna Decker joined PHF this season as a team and player development consultant. Team USA stalwart is a six-time World and Olympic gold medalist who was previously in the PWHA but made a high-profile move to the PHF. Decker suffered a leg injury in the last Olympics, which temporarily halted her playing career.