Marchment streaking down the home stretch

by Paul Krotz

Kennedy Marchment is the reigning most valuable player for her performance during the 2021-22 Premier Hockey Federation season and is making a strong case for consideration once again.

The Connecticut Whale forward is red hot at the most important time of the year with a record point-streak that’s also helped her team solidify their playoff standing.

Heading into the final day of the regular season she’s produced at least a point in 17 consecutive games while the Whale have won five-straight and locked up third place with a semifinal series looming in Toronto starting Friday.

“It’s nice to be able to contribute in the way that I’m supposed to and perform to my role,” Marchment said. “These past couple of weeks the Whale as a whole have been really good. I wouldn’t say we had the best start that we wanted but I think we’re hitting our stride right now which is really good heading into playoffs. It’s really exciting for my personal success, but I think more importantly it’s really good for Connecticut going into the final stretch.”

In 23 games Marchment has been held off the scoresheet just three times. On Dec. 18, her three-point effort against Boston launched the active streak that’s now generated 29 of her 34 total points. It’s hard to imagine the pressure of performing so consistently not weighing on her game, but she’s taken it all in stride.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a superstitious person and I don’t have too many routines or rituals,” she said. “I try not to think about it too much because I think the more you think about it the harder it is to forget about it while you’re playing. I just try and take each game and each shift as an individual thing and try not to think too much about it. I think that’s what helps me in the long run.”

Even with a team-first mindset, the significance of the achievement is not lost on the 26-year-old All-Star from Marmora, Ontario who has now crushed the PHF’s previous single season point-streak record of 13 games set by Riveters captain Madison Packer in 2019-20.

“It’s really cool to have that long of a point-streak and I’m happy with it of course, but at the end of the day I just try and think about the team and where we’re going,” Marchment said. “It’s crazy that playoffs are coming down to the last weekend of regular season matchups so there’s definitely a lot of other things on my mind right now.”

Marchment’s goal on Saturday night produced her 34th point of the season which is one more than the 33 she led the league with a year ago. It also established a new Whale single season record and was naturally set up by linemate Taylor Girard. Marchment notes the similarities in her year-to-year offensive success but is most proud of how she’s rounded out her game.

“I’m playing with Taylor Girard again this season which is awesome since we really know each other and play well together, and that plays a lot into my success,” she said. “Compared to last season I’ve done more focusing on my play without the puck working with our assistant coach Jeff (Devenney) and our video coach (Jack Han) and of course Colton (Orr). My play without the puck has been most beneficial. That, and building chemistry with some new players this year has also been really good on and off the ice with different linemates. Taylor and I continue building chemistry but we’ve played together for a while now so whoever else is on our line on any given day has been really important.”

Girard has 28 points in 23 games which has also exceeded her first season point total that earned Newcomer of the Year accolades. Caitrin Lonergan and Justine Reyes are next among the team’s top scorers, producing in their first PHF seasons large in part when matched with the Whale’s dynamic duo.

“Last year we were really successful and had a great team on and off the ice,” Marchment said. “As every season changes girls leave and new girls come in. This year the girls we’ve brought in have been fantastic people off the ice and I think that’s been really successful on Colton’s part to bring in people with such great personalities. I also think we’ve brought in a lot of skill both offensively and defensively which just makes our practices so much better with more competition. That’s really good for our team right now because the league has gotten a lot better as a whole but we’ve also gotten a lot better too.”

While newcomers have certainly contributed to this year’s success, Marchment is among 13 Whale players back from last season’s squad that captured a regular season title and gained valuable experience from competing in the franchise’s first Isobel Cup final against Boston.

“We have a lot of experience now which is definitely going to benefit us in itself,” she said. “The main takeaway from last year is that you really can’t take any shifts off. Two goals were scored within a couple minutes and that was the game and tough to climb out of that hole. We also need to stay focused no matter the score and what happens in the game because it’s hockey with highs, lows, and mistakes that happen. Ultimately with the core group that we have coming back from last year and the experience we have will be our greatest asset in terms of playoffs.”

Before playoffs officially begin, the Whale have one last test in Minnesota against the Whitecaps who are also semifinal bound in the fourth seed.

“The last weekend going into playoffs is always a good test, regardless of what team you play, but I think going into the last weekend and playing another team that is a playoff contender that we could possibly see in the finals if we both make it is big momentum wise,” Marchment said. “We know that we won’t be at home for a while so another thing that we’re thinking about is the travel and ways to get prepared for those games. We’re treating this like a playoff weekend because regardless of who we play in the first round it’s going to be a trip with travel so getting into that mindset is really going to benefit us. If we can get two wins this weekend, then obviously that momentum carrying us into playoffs would be phenomenal.”

This year’s playoff format features a best-of-three series, something Marchment is excited for to build towards their ultimate goal of hoisting the Isobel Cup.

“I think it’s really cool when you get to play in a series,” she said. “There’s just so much more opportunity to prove yourself. The competition and the rivalry that’s going to build over those games is going to be really exciting and also cool for fans to see how teams can bounce back. This is the most fun part of the year. You work all season for this and with only four teams getting into playoffs it’s an accomplishment. This time of year is all about compete and being ready to play every game and every shift and doing whatever it takes. I think the girls in our locker room are willing to do that. There’s a lot of us that have a little bit of a sour taste unfortunately losing last year. For the Whale, we want to be able to compete and be able to win. This is where we want to be at this point in time.”

Cover photo by Jonathan Sawn