PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE (PWHL) PREGAME PRIMER: MINNESOTA AT MONTRÉAL

Minnesota brings its first-place record to Montréal for the first time

 

LAVAL, QC (February 18, 2024) – This week’s Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) schedule wraps up with a Sunday afternoon matchup between two of the league’s top teams, Montréal and Minnesota, at 1:00 p.m. ET at Place Bell.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

 

Fans in Canada can tune-in live on Sportsnet ONE and stream on Sportsnet+. United States viewers can watch live on Bally Sports North, 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 is also available on NESN and the league’s YouTube channel. Daniella Ponticelli has the play-by-play call alongside analyst Becky Kellar. French coverage can be seen live on RDS with host André-Anne Barbeau, desk analyst Stéphanie Poirier, Claudine Douville on play-by-play, and Isabelle Leclair providing colour commentary.

 

SETTING THE STAGE

 

Two teams at the top of the standings do battle for the third time this season. Minnesota (5-2-2-2) is in first place with 21 points and a .636 points percentage, and Montréal (3-3-2-2) is tied for second in points with 17 but has the edge over Toronto with a .567 points percentage. Minnesota extended its lead with a three-point performance yesterday in Ottawa, winning 2-1 in regulation. It was the team’s second win over Ottawa in a four-day period, also winning 2-1 in regulation at home on Valentine’s Day. This marks the second time of the season where Minnesota has played consecutive days. The last time was Jan. 28 when they defeated New York 2-1 in overtime, less than 24 hours after losing to Boston 4-3 in overtime. While Minnesota is riding a two-game win streak, Montréal has not lost consecutive games all season. The team is looking to get back in the win column after having its three-game streak snapped on Friday in a 3-0 loss to Toronto in the Battle on Bay Street. Their season-high streak started with a 2-1 win in Minnesota on Jan. 24, and included a pair of 2-1 overtime victories against Ottawa at Place Bell on Jan. 27, and in Boston on Feb. 4. Both of Montréal’s two home wins have come at Place Bell, also counting a 3-2 victory over New York on Jan. 16. Minnesota has won four of its six road games so far this season. Minnesota’s next scheduled trip to Montréal is Apr. 24 where they’ll play at Verdun Auditorium.

 

THE SEASON SERIES SO FAR

 

The season series is tied 1-1 with both teams winning once in regulation. Minnesota earned a 3-0 shutout on Jan. 6 at Xcel Energy Center in their home opener, powered by a Grace Zumwinkle hat trick. Kelly Pannek had two assists, and Maddie Rooney turned aside all 24 shots she faced. Montréal got some revenge on Jan. 24 with a 2-1 victory. Laura Stacey scored first, and Tereza Vanišová capped a two-point effort with the third period game winner. Michela Cava scored Minnesota’s lone goal on one of 46 shots fired at Elaine Chuli. The 46 shots and 45 saves are both league-high numbers. Today’s goaltending battle will feature the series’ two winning netminders in Chuli and Rooney.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

 

Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle scored her league-leading third game-winning goal on Saturday in Ottawa to bring her tally total to seven. Her nine points in 11 games is tied for third with Montréal captain Marie-Philip Poulin whose six goals are tied for third most. Kelly Pannek has four points in Minnesota’s last four games and is second in team scoring with eight points. Her seven assists are tied for the league-lead with Montréal’s Maureen Murphy, and one more than Tereza Vanišová’s six. Minnesota captain Kendall Coyne Schofield has recorded four points in her team’s last five games, with her streak snapped in yesterday’s win. The team’s only active point streak belongs to Maggie Flaherty who has a goal and an assist over the last two games. Laura Stacey has five goals on the year, counting three in Montréal’s last four games, with her three-game streak ending on Friday. Both teams have a defender tied for third in scoring at her position, with Minnesota’s Lee Stecklein (1G 5A) and Erin Ambrose (2G 4A), each with six points.

 

MINOR HOCKEY DAY IN MONTREAL

 

Today’s game will celebrate minor hockey at Place Bell. Among the highlights, Montréal players will be wearing jerseys from various local teams for their rink arrival. At the rink, youth have been encouraged to wear their own team jerseys to the game with over 1,200 group tickets sold. A pre-game poster station has been set up for youth to craft posters with messages for the team, the intermission will feature a mini match with youth girls, and various in-game promotions will spotlight the various groups in attendance. Keep an eye on photos of Montréal players from their youth hockey days shared on the team’s social media platforms, and on the videoboard throughout the game.

 

LAST TIME IN LAVAL

 

Minnesota may not have many local connections, but several of their players are familiar with Place Bell dating back to the 2022-23 Rivalry Series finale. Last Feb. 22, Canada defeated the United States 5-0 to complete the reverse sweep, with a shutout performance by Ann-Renée Desbiens, a goal from Marie-Philip Poulin, and three assists from Laura Stacey. Minnesota had seven players competing for the U.S. National Women’s Team including goaltenders Nicole Hensley and Maddie Rooney, who both saw action between-the-pipes, along with Clair DeGeorge, Sydney Brodt, Kelly Pannek, Liz Schepers, and Lee Stecklein.

 

DUBOIS MAKES IT OFFICIAL

 

Catherine Dubois has officially signed a Standard Player Agreement with Montréal after previously being in the lineup over the course of two different 10-day contracts. The 28-year-old Québec native has played seven games this season in total, recording one goal in her debut on Jan. 10 against New York. Her signing corresponds with the team’s announcement that defender Dominika Lásková has been placed on long term injury reserve.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

 

“We are looking forward to playing in front of our fans today. Happy that we get a chance to rapidly get back in the win column. I liked the effort we put out on Friday night and think that if we keep going in that direction we will be satisfied with the result.” – Kori Cheverie, Montréal

“It’s a quick turnaround but we’re super excited to play Montréal. The back-to-back is just like college so we know we have to focus on what we did well yesterday, be better in areas that we can improve upon for today, and hopefully bring a full 60-minute game.” – Grace Zumwinkle, Minnesota

 

“It’s a great opportunity (playing shorthanded) for some players who maybe don’t get as much ice to step up. So, we definitely have to have that mentality of the next player up has got to go out there, perform, do their job and help us win.” – Ken Klee, Minnesota

 

QUICK HITS

 

Minnesota (+4) is first in goal differential and Montréal (even) is third…Minnesota (2.27) is fourth in goals-per-game average and Montréal (2.20) ranks sixth…Minnesota (1.91) allows the fewest goals-per-game on average and Montréal (2.20) is tied for second lowest…Minnesota and Montréal are tied with six first goals…Minnesota has won five times when scoring first, compared to Montréal’s four wins…Minnesota’s nine goals in the first and second period are tied for the league-lead…Montréal’s 12 goals surrendered in the third period are the most in the league…Minnesota has won five of its six games and Montréal has won four of its five games when leading after the first and/or second period…Both teams have won five one-goal games…Minnesota (+4) is third in short differential and Montréal (-35) ranks fourth…Montréal (28.0) is fourth in shots-per-game average and Minnesota (27.82) ranks sixth…Minnesota (27.45) allows the fourth most shots-per-game and Montréal (31.60) allows the fifth most on average…Minnesota (2/27) is fifth in powerplay efficiency at 7.4%…Montréal (1/32) ranks sixth on the PP at just 3.1%…Montréal (31/35) is fourth in penalty kill efficiency at 88.6%…Minnesota (24/30) ranks fifth on the PK at 80%…Grace Zumwinkle (MIN) and Marie-Philip Poulin (MTL) are tied for third in league scoring with nine points…Zumwinkle is second in the league with seven goals…Poulin is tied for third in the league with six goals…Kelly Pannek (MIN) and Maureen Murphy (MTL) are tied for the league-lead with seven assists…Erin Ambrose (MTL) and Lee Stecklein (MIN) are tied for third in scoring amongst defenders with six points…Zumwinkle is tied for the league-lead with one shorthanded goal…Stecklein is tied for the league-lead with 12 penalty minutes…Tereza Vanišová (MTL) is tied for third with 10 PIM…Laura Stacey leads Montréal with 37 shots on goal…Zumwinkle leads Minnesota with 44 shots…Sarah Bujold (43/74) leads Montréal in face-off efficiency at 58.1%…Poulin (54.3%) leads Montréal with 230 draws…Pannek (100/180) has taken the most draws and leads Minnesota at 55.6% face-off efficiency…Elaine Chuli (MTL) has won all three of her starts with a league-low goals-against-average of 1.31 and league-high save percentage of .962…Maddie Rooney (MIN) has two wins in four starts with a 1.96 GAA and a .913 SV%.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

 

MONTREAL:

Vanišová | Poulin | Murphy
David | O’Neill | Stacey
Lefort | Bujold | Bettez
Dubois | Dempsey | Dalton

Keopple | Ambrose
Tabin | Daoust
Lum | Bizal
Laganière

Chuli | Desbiens

 

Scratches: Boissonnault, Lásková, Marchment

 

MINNESOTA:

Coyne Schofield | Pannek | Butorac
Křížová | Cava | Zumwinkle

Fleming | DeGeorge | Kunin
Bryant | | Kremer

Stecklein | Jaques
Flaherty | Buchbinder
Greco | Channell

 

Rooney | Hensley

 

Scratches: Bench, Brodt, Heise, Leveille, Schepers

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: Hillary Brennan (London, ON) and Alex Lepkowski (West Seneca, NY).
Linespersons: Melissa Brunn (Kelowna, BC) and Adam Burnett (Toronto, ON).
Follow the league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus team accounts @pwhl_minnesota and @pwhl_montreal.

 

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