Pucks With A Purpose

A New Team, New Leadership And New Vision Propels PHF Forward Into Eighth Season

When Reagan Carey took over the U.S. Women’s National Team program in 2010, she had big shoes to fill. As one of the two preeminent powers in women’s hockey, she knew her responsibility as the general manager was more than simply winning games and Olympic medals. It was about establishing a culture that would help to continue to grow the game and create opportunities for young girls around the country.

One of her first goals was to establish a mindset that would be permeate through the entire women’s program and be a driving force in everything from off-ice training to practices, games and tournaments. It was about focusing on a bigger picture.

“Early on I remember meeting with the national team and really challenging all of us to decide what do we wanted to be? What do we want to represent? What’s our purpose?” Carey recalled. 

“From that, we established the mantra that started with we’re part of something bigger than ourselves, and that led us forward. And to do that, we were very committed to those small gains over a long period of time.” 

After leaving that post after leading the U.S. to a gold medal at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Carey has returned to the forefront of women’s hockey as the commissioner of the Premier Hockey Federation, the only women’s professional league in North America.

And many of those same ideals that powered the U.S. women’s program are now in play as Carey prepares to oversee the eighth season marked by continued growth and new opportunities for women to continue playing at a professional level. 

Among the changes are a new group of investors and owners in the seven teams, that includes the expansion franchise in Montreal. There is also an all-star staff that includes Mel Davidson (director of league and hockey operations), Lisa Haley (senior vice president of hockey operations) and three-time U.S. Olympian Kacey Bellamy, who signed on earlier this summer to serve as a scout and player relations liaison.

In addition to her extensive experience on the international arena, Bellamy has played for a number of professional entities, which she feels gives her a unique perspective when it comes to recruiting new talent for the PHF.

“I feel like I’ve played in every single league out there whenever the opportunity came along,” Bellamy said. “It was just whenever best fit with your life and the things that you believe in.”

There’s little doubt that everyone involved in the PHF, from the front office staff to the investors to the players on the ice believes in a higher purpose than simply playing hockey games.

“Our commitment to energizing that next generation, when they’re able to see these games and see that it’s an option for them as we grow the opportunities for professional sports for across the board for women,” Carey said. “It’s really exciting and meaningful to me as somebody that grew up not having that opportunity to see that. It’s going to be a terrific next step for our sport.”

Established in 2015 as the National Women’s Hockey League and rebranded as the PHF in 2021, the league consists of the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, the Toronto Six and the expansion franchise in Montreal who all compete annually for the Isobel Cup. Last year’s Cup was won by the Pride for the second consecutive year.

To push that exposure forward, the PHF will once again team up with ESPN to broadcast a number of league games on its various platforms.

The move is an essential part of the growth of the league in addition to a step forward for the women’s game.

“You see these major spikes in viewership during the Olympics, and then there’s kind of a void in between world championships where you see the best in the world for a moment and then there’s nothing to support that in a regular season,” Carey said.

“We’re excited to be able to reinforce what was started last year and to bring even higher profile games to some of their linear options as well.”

In addition to that exposure, Carey hopes to leverage her years of working in the sport at the grassroots and NHL level, in addition to her time at USA Hockey to bring all parties together in the name of creating a firm foundation for the future of women’s hockey.

“We need to all work together. Everybody has a hand in the leadership of women’s hockey, from the IIHF to leading programs that certainly includes USA Hockey,” Carey said.

“I think all of us working together on even things that are just simple but important as scheduling, so that we’re not competing with one another we’re supporting and filling in opportunities and making sure as a fan and as people that want to support the game, you’re not competing with each other. 

“We’re just making a great collaborative approach to growing the game at the national team level, internationally, as well as at the professional level.”

 

Issue: 
2022-10

Poll

What's Your Favorite Thing About The Hockey Season?
Hanging out with all of my friends.
13%
Dangle, snipe, celly!
16%
Getting a great workout in.
5%
All of the the above!
66%
Total votes: 613