Pulse of the PWHL - Week 5
By Scott Lowe – MYHockeyRankings.com
The Professional Women’s Hockey League took a few days off last week so 24 of its top players could travel to Toronto to be part of the National Hockey League’s All-Star Weekend.
But the league wasn’t out of the news for long.
On Thursday night, the players in Toronto put on a show to cap off NHL All-Star Thursday, playing in the PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase in front of more than 16,000 spectators at Scotiabank Arena.
Also on Thursday, tickets went on sale for the Feb. 16 regular-season game between Montreal and host Toronto. That game, being dubbed the “Battle on Bay Street,” had been moved from 2,600-seat Mattamy Athletic Centre to 19,800-seat Scotia Bank Arena, the home of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors.
Tickets for that budding rivalry sold out in under two hours, ensuring that the PWHL will set yet another professional women’s hockey attendance record, obliterating the world record established on Jan. 8 in Minnesota when 13,361 fans turned out to see Minnesota take on Montreal at Xcel Energy Center.
Through five weeks of its inaugural season, the PWHL has set attendance records four times and is playing in front of about 5,000 fans per game after three Week 5 contests drew nearly another 15,000 spectators. Nearly 125,000 spectators have turned out for the league’s first 25 contests.
Following last week’s 3-on-3 Showcase and three regular-season games, the PWHL is off for an International Ice Hockey Federation national team break until a pair of Valentine’s Day contests that have Toronto traveling to Boston and Ottawa heading to Minnesota. Those games face off at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. EST, respectively.
Here is a closer look at the PWHL’s Week 5 happenings:
Showtime in Toronto
The 24 players participating in the PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase Thursday at Scotiabank Arena certainly put on a show for the 16,392 fans attendance and those tuning in on various devices around the globe.
But it was one player in particular who really stole the show.
Ottawa defender Savannah Harmon recorded the self-described first hat trick of her career to go along with two assists to lead Team King to a 5-3 victory over Team Kloss in the final event of NHL All-Star Thursday. The teams were named in honor of Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, two members of the PWHL Advisory Board and longtime advocates for equality in women’s sports.
"It was really cool for all of us," Harmon told NHL.com. "We're incredibly honored to be here and incredibly excited to be a part of the NHL and their All-Star Weekend. To come out and see the fans stay and want to see us showcase our league and our talents, it was just really fun.”
Kendall Coyne Schofield (Minnesota) tallied a goal and an assist for team King, with Marie-Philip Poulin (Montreal), Blayre Turnbull (Toronto) and Alina Müller (Boston) each adding a pair of assists and Ella Shelton (New York) scoring once. Goaltenders Ann-Renée Desbiens and Aerin Frankel combined to make 13 saves to secure the win.
Alex Carpenter (New York) had a goal and an assist, while Jocelyne Larocque (Toronto) and Brianne Jenner (Ottawa) also scored for Team Kloss. Emerance Maschmeyer (Ottawa) and Nicole Hensley (Minnesota) each made six saves in a losing effort.
Harmon helped her team jump out to a 1-0 about a minute into the first of two 10-minute halves when she found New York defender Ella Shelton on the doorstop for a backhander that snaked its way into the net.
She then tied the game at 2 after Team Kloss got goals from Carpenter and Larocque and scored again to put Team King back in front off Poulin’s feed 3:05 into the second half. Harmon concluded the hat trick and extended the margin to 4-2 just 35 seconds later by smacking home her own rebound.
Coyne Schofield made the score 5-2 with 3:15 left in the game, and Jenner buried a one-timer 2:09 later for the final goal of the evening.
"It just gets better and better every year," Coyne Schofield said. "Here today we're representing the league we've always dreamed of. We've worked very hard for this platform. To be able to come out to that full building was pretty surreal."
Several items from the 3-on-3 Showcase were donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, including Shelton’s stick and first-goal puck, all three of Harmon’s goal pucks and the jerseys worn by team captains Coyne Schofield and Jenner.
Taking Over the Towns
It seems like the PWHL can’t go more than a day or two without announcing something new and exciting.
Tuesday the league announced that “PWHL Takeover Weekend” would take place March 16-17 and feature three regular-season games to be played at NHL venues.
The announcement, made in partnership with the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, presented a schedule that includes Ottawa vs. Boston at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena March 16 at 6 p.m. EDT and Toronto vs. Montreal at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena March 17 at 12:30 p.m. EDT. A March 16 matchup between New York and Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center was included in the league’s initial regular-season schedule announcement. That game faces off at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
“Bringing these games to three outstanding venues during Women’s History Month will create an unforgettable highlight of this inaugural PWHL season,” Jayna Hefford, PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, said in the announcement on ThePWHL.com. “For fans attending these games and players who are competing on the ice, this will be a great celebration of the advancement and opportunity for women and hockey everywhere.”
Tickets for the Toronto-Montreal game in Pittsburgh go on sale to the public Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. EST and will be available via Ticketmaster. Tickets for the Ottawa-Boston matchup at Little Caesars Arena go on sale Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. EST also via Ticketmaster. Fans can sign up online for the PWHL e-newsletter for priority access. Tickets for the New York-Minnesota contest are on sale now.
In a New York Minute
New York became the first PWHL team to rally from a three-goal deficit to win and also recorded the fastest three goals scored by one team in its 4-3 overtime victory at Ottawa Sunday.
Abby Roque, Jade Downie-Landry and Alex Carpenter scored in a span of 1:39 of the third period to send the game to overtime, with Carpenter netting the OT game-winner 2:12 into the extra session. Roque assisted on both Carpenter goals, and Corrine Schroeder made 39 saves to earn the win in goal.
Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 27 shots, while Aneta Tejralová, Lexie Adzija and Savannah Harmon scored to stake Ottawa to a 3-0 lead 9:13 into the third period.
Carpenter, Clark and Daryl Watts were named the game’s three stars.
Overtime Time and Time Again
There was another game and another overtime Sunday.
Thus far, 16 PWHL games have been decided by a single goal, with10 of those contests needing overtime or a shootout to determine a winner.
That trend continued Sunday as Montreal handed Boston a 2-1 home overtime setback at Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass.
Laura Stacey scored the game-winner 2:36 into OT, with Erin Ambrose and Marie-Philip Poulin assisting, after Sophie Shirley had forced the extra session with a third-period goal. Poulin also assisted on a Ambrose’s first-period marker.
Elaine Chuli stopped 26 of the 27 shots she faced to record the win in goal over Aerin Frankel (28 saves).
Stacey, Chuli and Shirley were named the game’s three stars.
Saturday is Spooner’s Day
Natalie Spooner recorded her sixth and seventh goals of the season while Renata Fast notched her first PWHL tally as Toronto beat Minnesota, 4-1, Saturday at Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Blayre Turnbull made it a full-fledged Team Canada alumni party, scoring Toronto’s other goal, with Spooner and Emma Maltais picking up assists. Sarah Nurse, Rebecca Leslie and Jocelyne Larocque earned helpers on Spooner’s tallies.
Kristen Campbell made 24 saves to record the win in net, and Kendall Coye Schofield netted Minnesota’s lone goal.
Spooner, Fast and Turnbull were the game’s three stars.
PWHL Three Stars of the Week
- Natalie Spooner – Toronto (RW)
- Alex Carpenter – New York (C)
- Abby Roque – New York (LW/C)
Moving from third star one week to first star the next week is becoming a PWHL tradition. This week it was Spooner who made the jump thanks to her three-point outing in a 4-1 win over Minnesota. She scored two goals for the second-straight game and notched her first assist of the season while firing seven shots on goal.
Carpenter continued her high-scoring season, notching the game-tying and game-winning goals as her team scored three times in 1:39 to rally from a three-goal deficit before winning in overtime. She leads the league with 11 points on five goals and six assists.
Roque was part of New York’s furious three-goal comeback win against Ottawa, scoring her team’s first goal and picking up assists on the tying and winning tallies. She has six points on the season.
Standings Through Week 5
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.
- Montreal 3W 3OTW 1L 1OTL 1SOL – 17 pts
- Minnesota 3W 2OTW 2OTL – 15 pts
- Boston 2W 2OTW 1OTL 2L – 11 pts
- Toronto 3W 1SOW 5L – 11 pts
- New York 2W 2OTW 1OTL 4L – 11 pts
- Ottawa 2W 4OTL 1L – 10 pts
Natalie Spooner TOR – 7
Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 6
Grace Zumwinkle MIN – 6
Alex Carpenter NY – 5
Laura Stacey MON – 5
Alina Müller BOS – 7
Maureen Murphy MON – 7
Alex Carpenter NY – 6
Rebecca Leslie TOR – 6
Alex Carpenter NY – 11
Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 9
Alina Müller BOS – 9
Ella Shelton NY – 9
Natalie Spooner TOR – 8
Save Percentage Leaders
Elaine Chuli MON – .962
Corinne Schroeder NY – .943
Nicole Hensley MIN – .934
Ann-Renée Desbiens MTL – .930
Aerin Frankel BOS – .927