MYHockey News

Pulse of the PWHL - Week 10

Chris Young/Canadian Press Photo

 

By Scott Lowe – MYHockeRankings.com

As we enter Week 11 of the Professional Women’s Hockey League’s inaugural season – a week that features “PWHL Takeover Weekend,” with teams traveling to Detroit and Pittsburgh to play in the National Hockey League venues in those cities – the league made more news Tuesday by announcing another arena takeover of sorts.

The league announced Tuesday that Montréal and Toronto will face off at the Bell Centre, home of the NHL’s Canadiens, on April 20. Bell Centre will become the sixth NHL arena to host a PWHL game this season, and with a capacity of more than 21,000, it seems logical that this budding rivalry will draw enough fans to set the league’s fifth attendance record to date.

The game, which is being dubbed the “Duel at the Top,” will start a 1 p.m. EDT, with tickets going on sale to the public March 20.

As the on-ice rivalry that has existed between the two cities since professional hockey’s formative years spills over into the new women’s pro league, the PWHL also is hoping to grow a slightly more friendly rivalry between the two fanbases off the ice.

“This game will reach well beyond the rivalry that always accompanies a game between pro hockey teams from Toronto and Montréal,” PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford said in a release posted on the PWHL website. “The ‘Duel at the Top’ will bring an intriguing dimension to this chapter: whether PWHL Montréal, which already has played before four of the top five crowds in our inaugural season, can make more women’s hockey history at the Bell Centre by taking the world attendance record away from PWHL Toronto.”

Toronto fans established the current world women’s hockey attendance record Feb. 16 when their team hosted Montréal at Scotiabank Arena in the “Battle on Bay Street.” A crowd of 19,285 turned out for that contest, which Toronto won, 3-0, with three third-period goals after the teams skated to a scoreless tie through the game’s first 40 minutes.

“Quebecers and Montrealers have shown an outpouring of support for our team this season, regardless of where we have played our games,” PWHL Montréal General Manager Danièle Sauvageau,said in the release. “Our fans have been asking us for this and we are happy to be able to give them what they want. It’s exciting to know that we will be playing in the largest hockey venue in North America, and I am certain that our supporters will be louder than ever.”

Tickets to the “Duel at the Top” go on sale to the public March 20 at 10 a.m. EDT via Ticketmaster. The game originally was scheduled for Verdun Auditorium April 21, so season ticket holders and fans who already had purchased tickets for that date and venue will be contacted prior to the public sale. Fans also can get priority ticket access by signing up for the team’s email newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up.

The same two Canadian franchises also take their rivalry to the Steel City as part of the league’s upcoming “Takeover Weekend.” They play Sunday, March 17 at 12:30 p.m. EDT at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena, home to the NHL’s Penguins. In this week’s other takeover matchup Saturday, Ottawa and Boston face off at the home of the Red Wings, Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. That game is scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT.

The Toronto-Montreal game takes on added importance as the two teams are tied for first place with 30 standings points. Toronto sits atop the league standings with a winning percentage of .625 and 8 regulation wins, compared to Montreal’s .588 winning percentage and 7 regulation wins.

Toronto is the PWHL’s hottest team, having won nine straight games heading into this weekend’s Pittsburgh takeover. The team has been off since a 3-0 win against Montreal March 8. 

“I had the opportunity to coach the {Canadian} National team {in Pittsburgh},” Toronto Head Coach Troy Ryan said at a press conference promoting the weekend. “We’re looking forward to playing Montreal. In sports in general, the Montreal-Toronto rivalry is a heated one. We’re just excited to be the newest chapter in that exciting rivalry.”

Montréal forward Laura Stacey is excited for her team and the league to have an opportunity to show off their brand of hockey in another city.

“We’ve had some great games against Toronto in the past,” she said during the press conference. “To get to play in Pittsburgh, in a city that really supports women’s hockey and goes out of their way to make games like these happen, is a special moment, and I think our team is really looking forward to it.”

Saturday’s Detroit takeover features the league’s fourth- and fifth-place teams in a game that took on even more importance when the PWHL announced recently that the top-four teams will qualify for the playoffs. The teams actually are tied with 20 standings points, but Boston’s winning percentage (.444) is slightly better than Ottawa’s (.417). Boston has seven total wins – four in regulation and three in overtime – while Ottawa has five total victories, all of them coming in regulation.

Three Detroit-area natives who play for Boston – Shiann Darkangelo, Taylor Girard and Megan Keller – will be returning home to play this weekend, something they haven’t been able to do often during their playing careers.

“Just to see the support and success that the PWHL has had already, I would love to see Detroit or other markets get a team,” Keller told The Detroit News. “There’s so much room for growth in women’s hockey, especially at the professional level. To have that access for young hockey players in those different markets, it’s something fans – Detroit hockey fans – deserve.”

Girard, who grew up watching the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena and played for the Little Caesars Tier 1 girls program, also is thrilled to be able to play in front of friends, family and other hometown fans.

“{It’s a} different rink now, but it’s going to be cool to just be in that building and just be in my hometown,” she said in Nolan Bianchi’s Detroit News story.

The early success enjoyed by the PWHL in its first season already has brought talk of expansion, with many speculating that Pittsburgh ad Detroit would be ideal cities to host franchises in the future. Hockey folks in Seattle also indicated there would be interest in bringing a team to the West Coast. 

Stan Kasten, member of the league’s advisory board, said recently that while there would be no expansion for the 2024-25 season, the league would continue to play games in different cities and at neutral venues to gauge fan interest and determine which markets might be able to support PWHL teams in the future.

Attendance hasn’t waned at all since the PWHL entered the second half of the season. The league eclipsed the 200,000 mark in total attendance recently, and another 25,000 fans turned out to watch the six games contested during Week 10. That brought the season attendance total to nearly 245,000, and the league’s average attendance has held steady at more than 5,000 per game for most of the year.

  

A Quick Look Back at Week 10

Sunday’s game between Montreal and Ottawa at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, marked the second time Montreal had sold out that building this season. Ottawa won, 4-2, with four different players scoring goals and Katerina Mrázová recording three assists. Aneta Tejralová and Brianne Jenner contributed a goal and an assist each, while Emerance Maschmeyer made 34 saves …

 

Boston drew a season high 4,607 fans to the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass., for it’s game against New York Sunday. Those fans pretty much all went home happy, too, as Hannah Brandt scored 1:48 into overtime to give the hometown team a 3-2 victory. It was Brandt’s second goal of the game and fourth of the season, with both tallies being assisted by Jamie Lee Rattray. Sophie Shirley also scored for Boston, and Emma Söderberg made 21 saves …

 

Toronto played in front of it’s eighth sellout crowd of the season Friday, with 2,554 fans cramming into Mattamy Athletic Center to watch their team beat Montreal, 3-0, and run its winning streak to nine games. Hannah Miller, Rebecca Leslie and Emma Maltais scored for the winners, while Kristen Campbell stopped all 23 shots she faced. Six different Toronto players recorded assists in the win.

 

Two of the league’s first-three Week 10 games were decided by a single goal, with one requiring a shootout …

Minnesota celebrated top draft-pick Taylor Heise’s return to Xcel Energy Center Ice from an injury with a 4-3 shootout win against Ottawa March 5. Heise was the hero in her return, scoring the shootout winner after Grace Zumwinkle also had tallied during the skills contest. Maddie Rooney made 22 saves and thwarted three of Ottawa’s four shootout attempts to earn the win in goal. Denisa Krí┼żová tied the game and forced overtime with her second goal of the game in the third period …

 

Montréal held on to win at New York, 4-3, March 6 after sprinting to a 3-0 first-period lead on goals by Jillian Dempsey, Sara Bujold and Gabrielle David. Marie-Phillip Poulin scored the game-winning goal in the third period after New York had pulled within one, and Ann-Renée Desbiens stopped 25 shots to record the win in goal …

 

Host Toronto knocked off Boston, 3-1, March 6, getting goals from Allie Munroe, Natalie Spooner and Maggie Connors. Kristen Campbell stopped 22 of the 23 shots she saw in the victory.

 

Three Stars of the Week

  1. Katerina Mrázová – Ottawa C
  2. Kristen Campbell – Toronto G
  3. Brianne Jenner – Ottawa RW/C

Mrázová recorded her first multi-goal effort of the season with a pair of tallies vs. Minnesota March 5 before handing out three assists vs. Montréal March 10. She concluded the week on a six-game points streak, tied for the longest in the league to date. She led all players with five points in Week 10 and has a team-best 13 points on the season to rank fourth in the league.

Campbell led Toronto to two wins during Week 10 as the team ran its winning streak to nine. She posted a .978 save percentage and a 0.50 goals-against average in the process while also notching her third shutout of the season. Campbell leads the league with 11 victories and has won her last 10 starts.

Jenner recorded four points on a goal and three assists during Week 10. She had two assists vs. Minnesota March 5 and followed that up with a goal and an assist against Montreal later in the week. Jenner leads her team in assists with 7 ad is second in points with 10.

 

Standings Through March 12

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.

  1. Toronto 8W 3OTW 5L – 30 pts
  2. Montreal 7W 3OTW 3OTL 4L – 30 pts
  3. Minnesota 6W 3OTW 3OTL 4L – 27 pts
  4. Boston 4W 3OTW 2OTL 6L – 20 pts
  5. Ottawa 5W 5OTL 6L – 20 pts
  6. New York 2W 4OTW 3OTL 7L – 17 pts

 

Goals Leaders

Natalie Spooner TOR – 12

Alex Carpenter NY – 8

Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 8

Grace Zumwinkle MIN – 7

Laura Stacey MON – 7

 

Assist Leaders

Alina Müller BOS – 10

Alex Carpenter NY – 10

Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 9

Kelly Pannek MIN – 9

Tereza Vanišová MON – 8

Emma Maltais TOR – 8

 

Points Leaders

Alex Carpenter NY – 18

Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 17

Natalie Spooner TOR – 16

Grace Zumwinkle MIN – 13

Katerina Mrázová – 13

 

Save Percentage Leaders

Elaine Chuli MTL – .958

Corinne Schroeder NY – ,942

Aerin Frankel BOS – .931

Nicole Hensley MIN – .930

Kristen Campbell TOR – .924

 

Week 11 Schedule & Viewing Guide

Here is a look at the rest of the Week 11 schedule with viewing information: 

Wednesday, March 13
8:00 p.m. ET – Boston at Minnesota
TV: Bally Sports North, NESN+, Sportsnet Pittsburgh, TSN5
Streaming: Women’s Sports Network, YouTube

Saturday, March 16
3:30 p.m. ET – New York at Minnesota
TV: Bally Sports North, MSG/MSGHD, CBC
Streaming: CBC Gem, YouTube

6:00 p.m. ET – Ottawa vs Boston
TV: Bally Sports Detroit Extra, Sportsnet ONE
Streaming: Sportsnet+, YouTube

Sunday, March 17
12:30 p.m. ET – Toronto vs Montréal
TV: Bally Sports North, CBC
Streaming: CBC Gem, YouTube
French: RDS2

To find out more about the PWHL, check out the PWHL Website.

 

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