PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE PREGAME PRIMER: BOSTON AT TORONTO

Boston and Toronto battle for second win of the season

 

TORONTO, ON (January 17, 2024) – The third week of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season continues with two games on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. ET, including Boston at Toronto at Mattamy Athletic Centre.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

 

Fans in Canada can tune-in live on TSN4, TSN.ca, and the TSN app with Daniella Ponticelli calling play-by-play alongside analyst Cheryl Pounder. In the United States, viewers can watch on NESN or stream on the NESN 360 app by logging in with their TV provider or purchasing a direct subscription. The game is also available in the U.S. on the league’s YouTube channel.

 

SETTING THE STAGE

 

It will be a big second win of the season for whoever emerges victorious tonight. Boston (1-1-0) could become just the second PWHL team to string together consecutive victories on the heels of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime triumph in Montréal, and Toronto (1-3-0) can right the ship after a pair of losses, including a 5-1 setback on Saturday against Ottawa. Tonight marks Boston’s second road game of the season and Toronto’s third game at Mattamy Athletic Centre, where they are still in search of their first win. Toronto and Boston occupy fifth and sixth place in the league’s overall standings with three and two points respectively.

 

FIRST PUCK DROP IN UTICA

 

Back on December 4, 2023, the puck dropped for the first time at the league’s pre-season evaluation camp in Utica, New York, with Boston and Toronto squaring off in their first taste of PWHL action. Toronto won the scrimmage 5-2, powered by a Blayre Turnbull natural hat trick to open the scoring. Sophie Shirley notched Boston’s lone goal in regulation time, with Sarah Nurse and Maggie Connors adding third period tallies for Toronto. Boston’s Jessica DiGirolamo scored at 2:15 of the overtime frame. Kristen Campbell turned aside 33 shots in victory opposite Cami Kronish.

 

BACK IN ONTARIO

 

Boston’s 10 Canadian players got the chance to experience the PWHL for the first time north of the border on Saturday in Montréal, now seven of them will feel even more at home in the province where they grew up. Tonight’s lineup features three local products in Jessica Digirolamo (Mississauga) and Sophie Jaques (Toronto) on the blue line, and Nicole Kosta (Mississauga) up front. Also at forward from the province is Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata) and Loren Gabel (Kitchener), while the team has two reserve players from Ontario including Emma Buckles (Toronto) and Samantha Isbell (Thunder Bay). Shiann Darkangelo isn’t from Ontario, but the Brighton, MI native was a big part of the community, serving as captain of the Toronto Six for three seasons and leading them to a 2022-23 Isobel Cup.

 

ONE YEAR AGO AT MATTAMY

 

Last season on January 29, 2023, Mattamy Athletic Centre hosted the PHF All-Star Showcase that produced some memorable performances by players in tonight’s game. Boston’s Loren Gabel earned MVP honours for the Canadian squad with three goals and an assist in the tournament format between international squads. Toronto’s Brittany Howard played alongside Gabel and scored a goal and three assists. Boston’s Kaleigh Fratkin served as captain for PHF Team Canada. PHF Team USA included Boston’s Shiann Darkangelo, Taylor Girard, Sidney Morin, and Toronto’s Kali Flanagan.

 

COLLEGIATE CONNECTIONS

Both team captains from today’s game were teammates at the University of Wisconsin, with Blayre Turnbull (TOR) and Hilary Knight (BOS) spending the 2011-12 season together with the Badgers. Defenders Kali Flanagan (TOR) and Megan Keller (BOS) had identical paths from 2014-19; they played together at Boston College from 2014-17, competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics for Team USA—where they took home the gold medal—and returned to BC for their senior seasons in 2018-19. Kristen Campbell (TOR), Sophie Shirley (BOS) and Cami Kronish (BOS) all played together at Wisconsin, and Jesse Compher (TOR) joined Shirley and Kronish as a grad student in 2022-23. Samantha Cogan’s (TOR) time as a Badger overlapped with Shirley’s in 2018-19. Rebecca Leslie (TOR) and Victoria Bach spent three years at Boston University with Sammy Davis (BOS), while Emma Maltais (TOR) and Sophie Jaques (BOS) were teammates at Ohio State from 2018-21. Maude PoulinLabelle (TOR) and Theresa Schafzahl (BOS) played together at the University of Vermont from 2018-22; Poulin-Labelle also played at Northeastern University with Alina Müller (BOS) in 2022-23. Clarkson University saw Erica Howe (TOR) and Jamie Lee Rattray (BOS) spend their entire NCAA careers together from 2010-14. Renata Fast (TOR) joined the duo in 2012, and later welcomed Emma Keenan (TOR) and Loren Gabel (BOS) to the school in 2015— Keenan and Gabel played their entire collegiate careers together as Golden Knights. Alexa Vasko (TOR) and Samantha Isbell (BOS) attended Mercyhurst University together for three years, from 2017-21. Olivia Knowles (TOR) and Emily Brown (BOS) spent 2017-22 together as teammates for the University of Minnesota. Allie Munroe (TOR) and Jessica DiGirolamo (BOS) both called Syracuse University home and played together for two seasons from 2015-17.

 

COACH’S CORNER

 

Toronto head coach Troy Ryan, who also serves as Canada’s National Women’s Team bench boss, will be coaching for the first time in the PWHL opposite one of his Team Canada assistant coaches in Boston’s Courtney Kessel. Ryan shared his outlook on the team heading into tonight’s game: “Facing Boston for the first time, I’m expecting they’ll be good, they’ll be strong. They’re coming off that game against Montreal. Two teams in different situations right now, but I think the week of practice we’ve had, with some of the tougher conversations we’ve had, should set us up for some success. I think we’ve just got to sort out a couple of our things – our line changes haven’t been clean, get better on our puck management, and then it would be nice to see an ugly powerplay goal to get us going and get us some confidence.”

 

BREAKING DOWN BOSTON

 

Boston general manager Danielle Marmer offered the following assessment of her team after its first two games: “I’m feeling optimistic about our start this season. In just our first two games, I’ve been impressed by the team’s resilience and our ability to dig deep, turning situations around when we’ve been behind. Our offense has been particularly exciting, generating a significant volume of chances across our entire lineup. Looking ahead, today is all about building on our performance in Montreal. For us, this means tightening up our defensive zone and creating more chaos in front of Toronto’s net. Given Toronto’s fast and physical style, dictating the pace and starting strong will be important for us.”

 

QUICK HITS

 

Boston and Toronto have both scored the fewest goals this season with five each… Boston has only played twice thus far while Toronto has competed four times…Neither team has scored the first goal in any of their games…Neither team has scored a first period goal this season with Boston allowing two and Toronto allowing six against…The second period is strongest for both teams offensively with Boston scoring 3/5 goals and Toronto scoring 4/5 goals in middle frame…Toronto (+8) and Boston (+7) rank second and third overall in shot differential…Toronto’s second period shot differential is +21 vs -6 in first and third periods…Boston (1/7) ranks third with a 14.3 powerplay percentage…Toronto (1/9) ranks fourth with an 11.1% efficiency…Boston (4/4) has a perfect penalty kill…Toronto (6/8) rank fifth with a 75% efficiency…Jamie Lee Rattray is Boston’s top scorer with three points…Natalie Spooner leads Toronto with two goals…The only two players to score shorthanded goals this season are in this game – Taylor Girard (BOS) and Emma Maltais (TOR)…Maltais and Blayre Turnbull lead Toronto with 13 shots on goal…Alina Müller and Sidney Morin lead Boston with seven shots…Turnbull (65) has taken the most face-offs for Toronto with a 44.6% efficiency…Müller (51) has taken the most draws for Boston with a 47.1% win rate…Kristen Campbell (3.63 GAA / .879 SV%) has started all four of Toronto’s games…Aerin Frankel (2.46 GAA / .898 SV%) started both of Boston’s first two games…Emma Söderberg, Swedish Senior National Team member and 2023 graduate from the University of Minnesota-Duluth,  will make her North American professional debut tonight.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

 

TORONTO:

 

Connors | Nurse | Spooner
Maltais | Turnbull | Howard

Miller | Compher | Leslie
Jones | Vasko | Willoughby
 

Larocque | Fast
Munroe | Flanagan
Rougeau | Poulin-Labelle

Campbell | Howe

Scratches: Cogan, Jackson, Knowles

 

BOSTON:

 

Knight | Brandt | Shirley
Schafzahl | Müller | Gabel
Rattray | Marvin | Pelkey
Girard | Darkangelo | Kosta
Wenczkowski


Keller | Jaques
Brown | Morin
DiGirolamo | Fratkin

Söderberg | Frankel

Scratches: Healey, Kronish

 

OFFICIALS: 

Referees: David Elford (Kitchener, ON) and Jack Hennigan (Halton Hills, ON).  

Linespersons: Ali Beres (Brant, ON) and Laura Gutauskas (Woolwich, ON).

Follow the league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus team accounts @pwhl_boston and @pwhl_toronto.

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