MYHockey News

Pulse of the PWHL: Minnesota & Boston Move On!

Updated May 18, 2024 at 11:40 a.m. EDT


By Scott Lowe –

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the final week of the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League season generated the type of drama that other established leagues have spent decades trying to manufacture.

That was just the cherry on top for the league’s first season, one that came together in a matter of months and produced a product that far surpassed what anyone expected. The PWHL provided a much-needed platform for the world’s elite women’s hockey players to showcase their skills while making a livable wage.

Whether it was the season’s opening weekend, the league’s accessibility to fans via standard television networks and web streams, the numerous single-game attendance records that were established, the players’ participation in the National Hockey League’s all-star activities or the push for the playoffs, the regular season appears to gone off without a hitch.

Now, North American hockey fans will get to see what it’s like when the world’s top female hockey players lay it all on the line with a trophy and a historic league championship at stake.

Is it possible for the PWHL’s postseason to top what we all witnessed during the last four-plus months as the league’s first regular season played out? If the push for the playoffs that took place the last few weeks provides any indication of what we can expect, the answer is a resounding, YES!

Because it’s the Cup.

No, not THAT cup. The Walter Cup!

The puck dropped on the PWHL Playoffs at 7 p.m. EDT April 8 as fourth-place Minnesota traveled to Toronto for Game 1 at Coca-Cola Coliseum. Montréal hosted Boston at Place Bell in other first-round Game 1 matchup Thursday at 7 p.m.

Before we take a look at those series, however, it’s imperative to understand how the four playoff teams got to this point and the mayhem that characterized the final week of regular-season play.


May Mayhem

Boston entered the final week of the PWHL regular season in fifth place and on the outside looking in as the two other teams fighting for the league’s final playoff berth controlled their own fate.

At that point, three teams – Minnesota (35 points), Ottawa (32) and Boston (32) – remained in contention for the final two playoff spots, but none of those teams would meet head to head. Boston had just one remaining game, its season finale at home vs. second-place Montréal May 4, while third-place Minnesota was slated to travel to first-place Toronto May 1 and last-place New York May 4. Still ahead for Ottawa was an April 30 road game vs. New York and the league’s May 5 regular-season finale at Toronto.

Even with a loss at Montréal, it was almost universally assumed that Minnesota would be able to clinch a playoff spot the next time out at New York. And surely Ottawa would get since one of its two games also was against New York.

Not so fast.

Thanks to a stroke of genius courtesy of the PWHL front office, New York still was playing for something. New York had a chance to secure the first pick in the June PWHL draft by accumulating the most “Draft Order Points” since being eliminated from playoff contention.

New York sent a message to the rest of the league in that April 30 matchup, which was so crucial for Ottawa’s postseason hopes. It didn’t look good for the hosts early as Ottawa got goals from Akane Shiga and Hayley Scamurra to take a 2-0 first-period lead only to see New York explode for four goals in a span of 8:33 during the second period en route to a 4-3 victory.

Jade Downie-Landry, Ella Shelton, Kayla Vespa an Elizabeth Giguère scored during that spree for New York, but Daryl Watts tallied with less than a minute left in the third period to give Ottawa hope. Ottawa left the ice disappointed, however, as winning goalie Corinne Schroeder shut the door, finishing with 33 saves to earn second-star honors. Shelton was named the first star with a goal and two assists, while New York’s Brooke Hobson earned third-star accolades with two assists.

Minnesota got its chance to clinch a playoff spot the next night only to fall to Toronto, 4-1. Michela Cava got the scoring started for Minnesota at 4:14 of the first period, but Toronto scored four unanswered goals, and goalie Kristen Campbell was perfect the rest of the way.

Natalie Spooner scored her 17th and 18th goals of the season during the four-goal run, with Emma Maltais and Hannah Miller providing the other two markers. Maltais also dished out a pair of helpers for the winners, while Campbell finished with 25 saves. Spooner, Maltais and Miller were named the game’s three stars.

So nothing was solved after those two results, and Boston, which had spent much of the final three weeks on the verge of elimination, suddenly had more than just a faint pulse as Minnesota traveled to New York May 4 in the need of just one point to clinch the postseason.

The force was not with Minnesota that day, however, as New York got a pair of goals from Jaime Bourbonnais, a goal and two assists from Shelton and a pair of helpers from Jessie Eldridge in a 5-2 win that dealt Minnesota’s playoff hopes a devastating blow. Lindsey Post made 30 saves in her PWHL debut to earn the win and garner first-star recognition. Shelton and Bourbonnais were tabbed as the second and third stars.

That result meant Boston and Ottawa both could leapfrog Minnesota to snatch the final playoff berths. Boston took care of business and secured its playoff spot May 4, scoring the first-three goals before allowing Montréal to tie the game with a furious third-period comeback and ultimately winning in dramatic fashion on Kaleigh Fratkin’s second goal of the season with just 1:20 left in regulation.

Aerin Frankel made 28 saves in the dramatic 4-3 victory, while Fratkin, Hilary Knight (1G, 1A) and Marie-Philip Poulin (1G) were named the game’s three stars.

So, it would all come down to the final game of the first PWHL season May 5 to determine whether Ottawa or Minnesota would finish as the fourth seed and live to play another day. Daryl Watts netted her 10th goal of the year 6:26 into the second period to secure a 2-2 deadlock for Ottawa entering the final frame. Spooner opened the scoring with her 19th of the year 1:05 into the game, with Ottawa’s Gabbie Hughes and Toronto’s Sarah Nurse also scoring in the first period.

Watts’s tally ensured that the regular season would enter its final 20 minutes of play with the last playoff berth still up for grabs. ‘Twas not to be for Ottawa, however as Spooner cracked the 20-goal plateau with 5;33 left before Victoria Bach and Samantha Cogan sealed the deal with a pair of empty-net goals.

Kristen Campbell stopped 36 shots to earn second-star accolades and pick up the victory in goal. Spooner was the first star and Ottawa’s Brianne Jenner (1A) got the third star.


Down the Stretch They Come

Somewhat lost in the mayhem brought on by the first week of May was the impressive run Boston made to close out the season and steal a playoff berth as well as the strong play of New York down the stretch and a nearly disastrous collapse by Minnesota.

Boston remained outside of the league’s top four until its victory against Montréal on the final weekend of the season. That win allowed Boston to finish third with 35 points on eight regulation wins, four overtime wins, three overtime losses and nine regulation losses.

When Boston fell in a shootout at then-fourth-place Ottawa April 24, most observers felt the playoff participants had been decided. But Boston won its last two games by a single goal and earned four one-goal victories in its final five contests to catapult into the postseason. For the season, 16 of Boston’s games were decided by a single goal, and their record in those contests was 10-6.

Meanwhile, Minnesota was on the verge of missing the playoffs on the season’s final day after sitting comfortably among the league’s top three for the better part of the year. Their near collapse was softened by the fact that they still snuck into the postseason, but will Minnesota be able to bounce back after finishing the year on a five-game losing streak to conclude the season in fourth place with 35 points on eight regulation wins, four overtime wins, three overtime losses and nine regulation losses?

Last-place New York probably hopes the season had another two weeks left after finally hitting its stride late in the year in its role as a potential playoff spoiler. New York won its last two games and three of its final five to finish with 26 points on five regulation wins, four overtime wins, three overtime losses and 12 regulation losses.

Toronto kept its foot on the gas all year, earning the regular-season title and top playoff seed going away with 47 points, six better than second-place Montréal. While Toronto enters the postseason playing its best hockey of the year with four-straight victories to close the regular season and 15 wins in its last 17 outings, Montréal has struggled of late, winning just three of its final nine contests.


Boston vs. Minnesota in an Improbable Title Matchup!

The playoffs opened May 8 in Toronto with what appeared to be a traditional No. 1 seed vs. No. 4 seed semifinal matchup between the hosts and Minnesota. That’s how it worked out, but not everything is what it seems.

As the top seed, Toronto was given the opportunity by virtue of PWHL rules to choose whether it wanted to face the third- or fourth-place team as its first-round opponent. Not surprisingly, Toronto chose Minnesota, which stumbled badly down the stretch, over red-hot Boston. Toronto won the first two games vs. Minnesota at home before dropping a 2-0 decison at Xcel Energy Center May 13 in Game 3 and a 1-0 double-overtime thriller there May 15 to force a deciding Game 5. Minnesota completed the improbable comeback with a 4-1 road win in the deciding game

That left second-seeded Montréal, which also had a difficult stretch run, facing a team playing its best hockey at the right time. And that matchup proved to be Montréal's kryptonite as Boston won two overtime thrillers in Canada and came home to the Tsongas Center to complete the sweep and become the first team to advance to the Finals in the league's short history with another OT win May 14.

May Mayhem at its finest.


PWHL Semfinals Schedule & Results 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024
7:00 p.m. ET – Toronto 4, Minnesota 0

Blayre Turnbull scored twice in the game's final 25 minutes, Natalie Spooner remained on fire with a first-period marker and Renata Fast dished out two assists as Toronto earned the Game 1 victory. Kristen Campbell earned the shuout with 26 saves and also was named the game's second star. Turnbull was the first star, with Spooner garnering third-star honors. 


Thursday, May 9, 2024
7:00 p.m. ET – Boston 2, Montréal 1 (OT)

Susanna Tapani buried the game-winning goal 14:25 into overtime as Boston continued its remarkable run to move to a 1-0 series lead. Mid-season acquistion Lexie Adzija tied the game and forced overtime for Boston 1:48 into the final period after Kristin O'Neill had opened the scoring for the hosts at 1:07 of the middle frame. Aerin Frankel made 27 saves to record the win and earn top-star accolades, with Montréal's Marie-Philip Poulin and Tapani being named the second and third stars, respectively. 


Friday, May 10, 2024
7:00 p.m. ET – Toronto 2, Minnesota 0

Kristen Campbell pushed her playoff shutout streak to 120 minutes by making 21 saves to lead Toronto to the Game 2 win and earn the game's second star. Jesse Compher broke a scoreless tie with 1:25 left in the game, and Hannah Miller capped the scoring with an empty-net goal in the waning seconds. Compher was tabbled as the No. 1 star, while Minnesota goalie Maddie Rooney earned third-star recognition thanks to her 28 saves. 


Saturday, May 11, 2024
7:00 p.m. ET – Boston 2, Montréal 1 (3 OT)

The schedule may have called for these teams to play two games, but after another overtime thriller they had played about 190 miutes of hockey in their first two semifinal contests. Taylor Wenczkowski made her first PWHL goal as huge as possible by scoring 11:44 into the third OT as Boston took a commanding 2-0 series lead. Sidney Morin and Gigi Mavin assisted on the game-winner. Amanda Pelkey opened the scoring for Boston in the first period, but Kristin O'Neill responded for the hosts in the middle frame. The two goalies combined for more than 100 saves, with Aerin Frankel stopping 51 shots to pick up the win and Ann-Renée Desbiens making 50 saves to earn the game's second star. Frankle was named the third star, with Wenczkowski garnering first-star honors. 


Monday, May 13, 2024
8:00 p.m. ET – Minnesota 2, Toronto 0

Minnesota stayed alive playing at home in front of an energetic crowd of 3,344 towel-waving fans. Maddie Rooney stooped all 18 shots fired her way to earn the shutout and top-star billing, with Maggie Flaherty and Denisa Krížová each scoring to snag the second and thrid stars of the game. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2024
7:00 p.m. EDT - Boston 3 Montreal 2 (OT)

What are the odds? Three-straight overtimes and three-straight Boston wins. Boston became the first team to advance to the first-ever PWHL Finals when Susanna Tapani potted her second OT GWG of the postseason 1:02 into the extra session. Rookie-of-the-Year finalist Alina Müller and Theresa Schafzahl assisted on the series-clinching goal, which made a winner out of netminder Aerin Frankel (32 saves). Montréal appeared poised to force a Game 4 as goals by Marie-Philip Poulin and Maureen Murphy had the hosts facing a 2-0 deficit entering the final 20 minutes. Think again. Sophie Shirley scored 7:06 into the third period, and Amanda Pelkey forced overtime by scoring with 3:43 left in regulation. Tapani earned first-star honors thanks to her heorics, with Poulin and Pelkey being named the second and third stars. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2024
8:00 p.m. EDT - Minnesota 1, Toronto 0 (2 OT)

Claire Butorac picked the perfect time to score her second-ever PWHL goal, netting the game-winner 4:27 into the second overtime to break a scoreless tie and force a deciding Game 5 in Toronto. Liz Schepers and Sophie Jaques assisted on the deciding goal, and Maddie Rooney earned the shutout win and second-star honors with an 84-minute, 19-save shutout. Butorac was the game's first star, with Kristen Campbell receiving third-star honors after sopping 28 shots. 


Friday, May 17
7:00 p.m. EDT - Minnesota 4, Toronto 1

Minnesota broke open a 1-1 tie in the third period. Top draft-pick Taylor Heise scored the eventual game-winner 8:30 into the final frame, with Lee Stecklein and Kendall Coyne-Schofield picking up the assists, and capped the scoring with the team's second empty-net goal at the 19:45 mark. Sophia Kunin also buried an empty-netter, with Denisa Krížová netting the other Minnesota goal. Rebecca Leslie had the lone goal for Toronto, which was playing without injured league scoring-leader Natalie Spooner. Winning goalie Maddie Rooney made 27 saves to earn second-star honors. Heise was the first star, while Leslie was tabbed as the star No. 3.


PWHL Walter Cup Finals Schedule

Sunday May 19
Game 1 at 5:00 p.m. EDT - Minnesota at Boston (Tsongas Center) 

Tuesday May 21
Game 2 at 7:00 p.m. EDT: Minnesota at Boston (Tsongas Center) 

Friday May 24
Game 3 at 7:00 p.m. EDT: Boston at Minnesota (Xcel Energy Center) 

Sunday May 26*
Game 4 at 6:00 p.m. EDT: Boston at Minnesota (Xcel Energy Center) 

Wednesday May 29*
Game 5 at 7:00 p.m. EDT: Minnesota at Boston (Tsongas Center)

*If necessary 


TSN and RDS are the exclusive homes of the PWHL Playoffs, with every game carried by TSN, and the TSN app and with French-language coverage of all Montréal games and the PWHL Finals available on RDS.

Regionally, Boston games will continue to be available on NESN, Minnesota games on Bally Sports North and select games throughout the PWHL Playoffs on MSG Networks.

All games will be streamed live on the league’s YouTube channel.


Three Stars of the Final Week

  1. Ella Shelton – New York D
  2. Natalie Spooner – Toronto RW
  3. Hilary Knight – Boston RW

Shelton led all PWHL players in scoring with 2-4-6 during the season’s final week while averaging 25 minutes of ice team in the two New York victories. She finished the year as the league’s top-scoring defender with 7-14-21.

Spooner was named one of the three stars of the week for the fifth time after scoring four goals in two games to finish with 24 for the season. She also scored the game-winning goal in both Toronto victories. Spooner finished the year as the league’s leader in goals with 20 and points with 27.

Knight earned a star for the first time of the year as she recorded a goal and an assist in Boston’s must-win victory against Montréal.


Season Standings for Three Stars of the Week:

1. Natalie Spooner (TOR) = 100 Points

2. Brianne Jenner (OTT) = 70 Points

T3. Marie-Philip Poulin (MON) = 60 Points 

T3. Sarah Nurse (TOR) = 60 Points 

T5. Ella Shelton (NY) = 50 Points 

T5. Daryl Watts (OTT) = 50 Points 


Final League Standings

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 loss and no points for a regulation loss.

  1. Toronto 13W 4OTW 7L – 47 pts
  2. Montréal 10W 3OTW 5OTL 6L – 41 pts
  3. Boston 8W 4 OTW 3OTL 9L – 35 pts
  4. Minnesota 8W 4OTW 3OTL 9L – 35 pts
  5. Ottawa 8W 1 OTW 6OTL 9L – 32 pts
  6. New York 5W 4OTW 3OTL 102L – 26 pts


Goals Leaders

Natalie Spooner TOR – 20

Grace Zumwinkle MIN – 11

Sarah Nurse TOR – 11

Laura Stacey MON – 10

Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 10

Daryl Watts OTT – 10


Assist Leaders

Alex Carpenter NY – 15

Emma Maltais TOR – 15

Erin Ambrose MON – 14

Ella Shelton NY – 14

Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 13


Points Leaders

Natalie Spooner TOR – 27

Sarah Nurse TOR – 23

Marie-Philip Poulin MON – 23

Alex Carpenter NY – 23

Ella Shelton NY – 21


Save Percentage Leaders

Elaine Chuli MTL – .949

Corinne Schroeder NY – .930

Aerin Frankel BOS – .929

Kristen Campbell TOR – .927

Ann-Renée Desbiens – .923


Visit to purchase tickets and merchandise, and subscribe to the PWHL e-newsletter to receive the latest league updates. Follow the league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus all six team accounts @pwhl_boston, @pwhl_minnesota, @pwhl_montreal, @pwhl_newyork, @pwhl_ottawa, and @pwhl_toronto.


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