Pulse of the PWHL - Week 2
By Scott Lowe – MYHockeyRankings.com
For anyone expecting the excitement surrounding the new Professional Women’s Hockey League to subside during the second week of the inaugural 2024 season, please don’t hold your breath. We want you to make it through Week 3.
The momentum created during Week 1 of the PWHL’s 2024 campaign more than carried over into Week 2.
Fans continued to fill arenas. Spectacular individual performances kept those fans on the edge of their seats. And the game’s up-and-coming young stars continued to mix with the world’s veteran superstars, pushing them and the sport of professional women’s hockey to a new level of speed, skill and excitement.
Although the PWHL faced its initial setback when the first game of Week 2, a matchup between Ottawa and Boston, was shut down because of inclement weather, the rest of Week 2 couldn’t have gone any better. Apparently only Mother Nature is capable of slowing this runaway train down.
Even with that postponement, Week 2 of PWHL play featured five more games played in front of more than 18,500 spectators. The week included a hat trick by Captain Canada, a two-goal performance by the league’s first draft pick and the long-awaited Montreal home opener in front of a raucous crowd at Verdun Auditorium.
And of course, as has been the case since the plans for the league were first announced last June, the league continued to make news almost daily.
The first order of business for the PWHL was to announce the Ottawa-Boston makeup date and let fans know that tickets from the original game would be honored. The game will be played Feb. 19 at 4:30 p.m. in Lowell, Mass, at the Tsongas Center. All ticket holders will be contacted directly with more information.
In addition, League corporate partners continued to be revealed and introduced, and the rosters for the PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase to be played during the National Hockey League’s All-Star Weekend Feb. 1 in Toronto were announced.
Finally, the PWHL announced it’s three stars for Week 2, a mixture of veterans who have provided fans with so many thrills on international ice and a player who appears destined to be one of the sport’s next megastars.
More on them and more details on the PWHL Showcase rosters can be found below as we present the Pulse of the PWHL for Week 2.
Games People Play
It was a great week of games in the PWHL, and by the time the dust had settled and Week 3 was peaking over the horizon, the season’s first 10 games had been completed.
Ironically, the visiting team won by the eight of those first 10 contests, with the visitors coming out ahead in four of the five Week 2 matchups. Through two weeks of play, every team had at won at least once and had suffered at least one overtime defeat. Four teams had played four games, and two had played twice. Week 2 also marked the first time that two PWHL games were played at the same time in different markets.
Montreal and New York opened Week 3 action Tuesday night, with the hosts from Quebec skating to a 3-2 victory to improve to 3-1-1 on the year with one overtime win and one overtime loss. New York dropped to 2-3-0 with one OT win.
Captain Canada Takes New York
Longtime Canadian superstar and Team USA killer Marie-Philip Poulin failed to find the back of the net during Week 1. That changed in a big way Jan. 10 as Poulin and her Montreal teammates stormed into UBS Arena and roughed up host New York to the tune of a 5-2 victory.
Poulin recorded her first, Montreal’s first and the league’s second hat trick in the victory, scoring three times on five shots. She tied the game at 1 early in the first period, and put the game away with two tallies late in the final frame. Kennedy Marchment and Catherine Dubois also scored for Montreal, with Tereza Vanisova dishing out a pair of assists to make a winner of goalie Elaine Chull (30 saves). Jessie Eldridge had a goal and an assist for New York as did defender Ella Shelton.
Taylor Heise, the former University of Minnesota superstar and a member of Team USA, was the first pick in the inaugural PWHL Draft. That pick is already paying dividends for Minnesota. Heise potted two goals and assisted on longtime USA hockey hero Kendall Coyne Schofield’s first PWHL goal Jan. 10 to lift Minnesota to a 3-1 home victory against Toronto in front of nearly 5,000 fans at Xcel Energy Center. Heise and Coyne Schofield were the game’s first and third stars, with goalie Nicole Hensley (31) saves earning second-star recognition. Denisa Krizova dished out a pair of assists for the hosts. Team Canada star Sarah Nurse had the lone Toronto goal. Kristen Campbell had 26 saves for the visitors.
Battle of Ontario
Gabbie Hughes scored twice and Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 23 shots as Ottawa stormed into downtown Toronto and handed the hosts a 5-1 setback at Mattamy Athletic Centre Jan. 13. Natalie Snodgrass, Daryl Watts ad Katerina Mrazova also scored for Ottawa, with Mikyla Grant-Mentis dishing out a pair of assists as 11 different players got on the scoresheet. Natalie Spooner had the lone Toronto goal. Erica Howe came on in relief of starting goaltender Kristen Campbell, who surrendered three first-period goals as Ottawa sprinted to a 3-0 advantage. Howe stopped 13 of the 15 shots she faced over the final 40 minutes.
Boston OT Party
When Montreal scored twice in the first 1:02 of the second period of its Jan. 13 home opener vs. Boston, it sounded like the Montreal fans were going to blow the roof off of Verdun Auditorium. At that point it also felt like there was no chance that the hosts could lose.
Well, it took Boston slightly less than four minutes to correct that line of thinking as Taylor Girard and Hannah Brandt answered with a pair of goals just 1:31 apart to quiet the arena and set up a third-period battle for the win. Both goaltenders stood tall in the final frame, however, to force overtime, and Amanda Pelkey won it for Boston 2:17 into the extra session with assists going to Gigi Marvin and Jamie Lee Rattray. Arein Frankel made 31 saves to earn the win in goal over Ann-Renee Desbiens, who stopped 18 shots. Laura Stacey scored for Montreal and was named the game’s second star behind first-star Pelkey and ahead of third-star Frankel. Erin Ambrose scored the other Montreal goal.
More Free Hockey
New York faced a hostile crowd of nearly 8,000 at Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center Jan. 14 and dug itself a daunting two-goal hole through the game’s first 25 minutes before rallying to force overtime with single goals in the second and third periods. Emma Woods turned the noise off inside the building with her overtime game-winner 4:01 into the extra frame as the visitors earned a pulsating 3-2 win.
Her goal was assisted by Ella Shelton, who notched her third helper of the game and fourth of the season, and Jade Downie-Landry. Jessie Eldridge tied the game at 10:49 of the third period after Carpenter had gotten New York on the Board at 13:23 of the second. Carpenter and Shelton also assisted on Eldridge’s goal. Lee Stecklein and Kelly Pannek scored for Minnesota in the game’s opening 11:22. Corrine Schroeder made 39 saves for the winners, and none was bigger than the stop she made on Grace Zumwinkle’s overtime penalty shot. Maddie Rooney recorded 26 saves for Minnesota.
Showtime in Toronto
Players from each of the PWHL’s six teams will compete in a 20-minute 3-on-3 game as part of the NHL’s All-Star Weekend at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto Feb. 1. The PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase will feature two teams of 12 players (10 skates and two goalies) named in honor of Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, two members of the PWHL Advisory Board and longtime advocates for equality in women sports.
Team King will be coached by PWHL Special Advisor Cassie Campbell-Pascall, a broadcaster and former Olympic captain for Team Canada. Former USA Olympic captain Meghan Duggan, who now serves as director of player personnel for the New Jesey Devils, will guide Team Kloss.
This Week the PWHL announced the rosters for the PWHL Showcase:
26 Kendall Coyne Schofield, Minnesota (F)
21 Hilary Knight, Boston (F)
11 Alina Müller, Boston (F)
12 Kelly Pannek, Minnesota (F)
29 Marie-Philip Poulin, Montreal (F)
40 Blayre Turnbull, Toronto (F)
15 Savannah Harmon, Ottawa (D)
5 Megan Keller, Boston (D)
17 Ella Shelton, New York (D)
2 Lee Stecklein, Minnesota (D)
35 Ann-Renée Desbiens, Montreal (G)
31 Aerin Frankel, Boston (G)
25 Alex Carpenter, New York (F)
26 Emily Clark, Ottawa (F)
27 Taylor Heise, Minnesota (F)
19 Brianne Jenner, Ottawa (F)
20 Sarah Nurse, Toronto (F)
11 Abby Roque, New York (F)
7 Laura Stacey, Montreal (F)
23 Erin Ambrose, Montreal (D)
14 Renata Fast, Toronto (D)
3 Jocelyne Larocque, Toronto (D)
29 Nicole Hensley, Minnesota (G)
38 Emerance Maschmeyer, Ottawa (G)
The 24 players include 17 of the 18 inaugural PWHL free-agent signings and seven of the first 12 players selected – including all six first-round picks – in the firs PWHL Draft. According to the PWHL, the players on the two rosters have won a combined 146 Olympic and 46 World Championship medals as well as 17 NCAA Division I championships.
Three Stars of the Week
- Marie-Philip Poulin – Montreal (F)
- Ella Shelton – New York (D)
- Taylor Heise – Minnesota (F)
Standings Through Week 2
The PWHL standings are based on a three-point system in which teams are awarded three points for a win, two points for an overtime or shootout win, one point for an overtime or shootout lost and no points for a regulation loss.
Here is a look at the standings through Week 2:
- Minnesota 3W 1OTL – 10 pts
- Montreal 2W 1OTW 1L 1 OTL – 6 pts
- New York 2W 1OTW 2L – 5 pts
- Ottawa 1W 1OTL – 4 pts
- Toronto 1W 3L – 3 pts
- Boston 1W 1OTW 1L – 2 pts
Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 4
Grace Zumwinkle MIN – 4
Alex Carpenter NY – 3
Jessie Eldridge NY – 3
Taylor Heise MIN - 3
Maureen Murphy MON – 5
Ella Shelton NY – 5
Tereza Vanisova MON – 5
Alex Carpenter NY – 4
Ashton Bell OTT - 3
Alex Carpenter NY – 7
Ella Shelton NY – 7
Marie-Philip Poulin MON - 5
Jessie Eldridge NY – 5
Maureen Murphy MON – 5
Save Percentage Leaders
Nicole Hensley MIN – .955
Maddie Rooney MIN – .943
Corinne Schroeder NY – .942
Elaine Chull MON – .938
Emerance Maschmeyer OTT – .917
CLICK HERE for the PWHL scores and schedule