Minnesota makes its first Canadian trip to the nation’s capital in Ottawa
OTTAWA, 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 Minnesota at Ottawa at The Arena at TD Place.
WHERE TO WATCH
Fans in Canada can tune-in live on TSN+ with Kenzie Lalonde calling play-by-play alongside analyst Saroya Tinker. In the United States, viewers can watch on Bally Sports North Extra, the Bally Sports app on mobile and tablet devices (including iOS and Android), ballysports.com when fans authenticate using their pay-TV credentials, and on Bally Sports+, the standalone streaming subscription service available from Bally Sports. The game can also be seen on the league’s YouTube channel.
SETTING THE STAGE
Minnesota (3-0-1) stands alone in first place atop the PWHL standings with 10 points earned through a trio of regulation wins and a single overtime loss. Ottawa (1-0-1) has earned four of a possible six points in their two games played this season, good for fourth place, and join Minnesota as the only teams without a regulation defeat. Minnesota opened its season on the road with a 3-2 win in Boston on January 3, then compiled three-straight games at Xcel Energy Center, capped by Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss to New York. Ottawa hits the ice at TD Place for the first of three-straight home games, and for the first time since its 3-2 overtime loss to Montréal on January 2, played before a sold-out crowd of 8,318. They won their first road game of the season on Saturday in Toronto by a score of 5-1.
The first encounter between the teams was also their introduction to PWHL on-ice action on day one of the league’s pre-season evaluation camp in Utica, New York. During the December 4, 2023 scrimmage, Minnesota had eight different goal scorers in the 8-4 outcome, including a three-point performance from Susanna Tapani and two-point efforts from Abby Boreen, Maggie Flaherty, and Sophia Kunin. Ottawa opened the scoring on a first period point-shot by Jincy Roese and led 3-1 in the second period with goals from Natalie Snodgrass and Mikyla Grant-Mentis. Taylor Heise, Brittyn Fleming, Kelly Panek, and Sydney Brodt all scored singles for Minnesota, with Ottawa’s last goal credited to Kristin Della Rovere. Nicole Hensley and Amanda Leveille split goaltending duties for Minnesota opposite Ottawa’s Sandra Abstreiter.
COMING HOME TO CANADA
Minnesota’s first trip north of the border will be extra special for the four Canadian players on a roster that is predominantly American with 21 U.S. players. Abby Cook hails from Kelowna, BC, and three players are from Ontario including Thunder Bay’s Michela Cava, Burlington’s Emma Greco, and Kingston’s Amanda Leveille. While it’s not a homecoming for Denisa Křížová, she will reunite with Czechia teammates Kateřina Mrázová, Aneta Tejralová, and national team coach Carla MacLeod in Ottawa. Add Finland’s Susanna Tapani to the mix from Minnesota, plus Ottawa’s Akane Shiga (Japan), Fanni Garát-Gasparics (Hungary), and Sandra Abstreiter (Germany), and seven countries are represented on tonight’s rosters.
Rosters for tonight’s game include several players who were teammates with members of the opposition during their collegiate careers across five different NCAA programs. At the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Ottawa’s Ashton Bell, Gabbie Hughes, and Kateřina Mrázová played with Minnesota’s Sydney Brodt, Maggie Flaherty, and Maddie Rooney. Mrázová was also a Bulldog with Michela Cava. Ottawa’s Emily Clark attended the University of Wisconsin where she played with fellow Badgers Natalie Buchbinder, Mellissa Channell, and Sophia Kunin from Minnesota. At Northeastern University, Ottawa’s Hayley Scamurra played with Minnesota’s Kendall Coyne Schofield and Denisa Křížová on the Huskies. Jincy Roese (OTT) and Liz Schepers (MIN) were both Ohio State University Buckeyes, and Mikyla Grant-Mentis (OTT) and Dominique Kremer (MIN) played alongside each other at Merrimack College.
“They’ve had a good start to the season. They’re not lacking in confidence. It shows in their game. They’re fast. They’re big. They’re strong. They have players who can score goals. It comes naturally to them. It’s going to be a good game.” – Head Coach Carla MacLeod.
“Obviously, we’ve done our preparation knowing that we’re going to face Minnesota. We respect their team a lot. We respect all teams, really. In a six-team league, all the teams are very good. That being said, we focus on our own performance first. We’re very proud of what we accomplished in our first two games, but we have to keep growing if we want to play until the end of the year.” – Captain Brianne Jenner.
COACH KLEE COMMENTS
Minnesota head coach Ken Klee offered the following remarks ahead of Wednesday’s game: “Really excited about our start for how I feel like we’ve come with our habits and our everyday attention to detail. There’s been a lot of teaching so far, but our team has been catching on and our play has definitely improved.”
Minnesota and Ottawa have scored the first goal in every game they’ve played this season and are the only teams to produce points in the standings every time they’ve been on the ice. Minnesota has scored six first period goals, with at least one in every game led by Taylor Heise twice, Grace Zumwinkle in her hat trick performance, and Lee Stecklein on Sunday. Ottawa netted three from Kateřina Mrázová, Gabbie Hughes, and Daryl Watts in the opening frame in its latest victory in Toronto. Neither team has been scored on in the first period of any game yet this campaign.
Minnesota (+5) and Ottawa (+3) have the two best goal differentials in the PWHL…Ottawa (3.5) and Minnesota (2.75) rank one-two in goals-per-game average…Minnesota (1.50) and Ottawa (2.00) rank one-two in goals-per-game allowed…Ottawa (+6) and Minnesota (-12) rank fourth and fifth in shot differential…Ottawa has outshot opponents 21-9 in the first period…Both teams are tied for the lowest shots-per-game average with 27.0…Ottawa’s shots allowed average is lowest at 24.0…Minnesota allows 30 shots on average which is second most…Ottawa (3/8) has the best powerplay percentage in the league at 37.5…Minnesota is the only PWHL team without a power play goal…Ottawa (4/4) has not allowed a powerplay goal yet this season…Minnesota (6/9) rank sixth on the penalty kill…Grace Zumwinkle (MIN) is tied for the PWHL lead with four goals…Zumwinkle and Taylor Heise both have multi-goal games for Minnesota…Gabbie Hughes recorded Ottawa’s first multi-goal game against Toronto…Kateřina Mrázová (MIN) leads the PWHL with a 66.7 shooting percentage…Zumwinkle and Mrázová are both on two-game goal-streaks…Lee Stecklein (MIN) is riding a three-game point-streak…Zumwinkle leads the team with 19 shots…Hayley Scamurra (OTT) leads her team with seven shots…Susanna Tapani (MIN) leads the PWHL with a +6 rating…Stecklein is tied for the PWHL lead with eight penalty minutes… Heise (68) has taken the most face-offs for Minnesota with a 47.1% win rate…Gabbie Hughes (33) has taken the most face-offs for Ottawa with a 39.4% efficiency…Minnesota’s Nicole Hensley (.955) and Maddie Rooney (.943) lead the PWHL in save percentage…Ottawa’s Emerance Maschmeyer (1.98) ranks fourth in goals-against-average.
Scamurra | Jenner | Gilmore
Clark | Hughes | Grant-Mentis
Watts | Mrázová | Shiga
Gasparics | Snodgrass | Adzija
Boyd | Bell
Harmon | Boulier
Tejralová | Roese
Maschmeyer | Abstreiter
Scratches: Della Rovere, Howran, McQuigge
Křížová | Heise | Zumwinkle
Coyne Schofield | Pannek | Cava
Fleming | Tapani | Kunin
DeGeorge | Schepers | Bryant
Stecklein | Flaherty
Channell | Buchbinder
Kremer | Cook
Hensley | Rooney
Scratches: Brodt, Greco, Leveille
Referees: Damian Figueria (Toronto, ON) and Harrison O’Pray (Hilegarde, NB).
Linespersons: Joanie Duchesneau (Montreal, QC) and Jérémy Faucher (Cowansville, QC).