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

Win streaks are on the line as Boston hosts Montréal for the first time

 

LOWELL, MA (February 4, 2024) – The fifth week of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season wraps up with the second of two Sunday afternoon games, as Montréal makes its first trip to Boston, for a 3:30 p.m. ET puck drop at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

Fans in the United States can watch live 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 on the league’s YouTube channel, and across Canada on TSN3 and TSN5 channels. Bridgette Proulx will have the play-by-play call alongside analyst Dave Starman. French coverage can be seen live on RDS with host Émilie Duquette, desk analyst Valerie Bois, Claudine Douville on play-by-play, and Karell Émard providing colour commentary.

 

SETTING THE STAGE

A pair of two-game winning streaks are on the line today between Montréal (3-2-2-1), who is tied for first overall with 15 points, and Boston (2-2-0-2), who sit fourth with 10 points. Since dropping a 4-1 decision to New York on Jan. 20, Boston defeated Ottawa 3-2 on the road on Jan. 24, followed by a 4-3 overtime victory against Minnesota on Jan. 27. Last Saturday’s win was the team’s first in three games at Tsongas Center. Montréal’s last loss also occurred on Jan. 20 in a 4-3 shootout against Toronto on home ice. Since then, they beat Minnesota 2-1 on the road on Jan. 24, and topped Ottawa 2-1 in overtime at their home at Place Bell. Montréal has won three of their four road games this season. They also have points in six straight games, which includes five straight one-goal decisions. Keep an eye on today’s shot totals as both teams average the fewest in the league, and Montréal has allowed the two highest totals against in their last two games. Boston has won all three games in which they’ve been outshot, while Montréal has won four of its five games when outshot by its opponent. This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season, with Montréal’s next trip to Boston scheduled for May 4, in what will be the final game of the regular season for both clubs.

 

RECAP BEFORE THE REMATCH

The teams met back on Jan. 13 at a sold-out Verdun Auditorium for Montréal’s home opener. Boston spoiled the party for the crowd of 3,245 in attendance with a 3-2 comeback victory in overtime. Erin Ambrose and Laura Stacey scored first for Montréal with goals 59 seconds apart in the middle frame. Boston responded with two quick second period goals of their own by Taylor Girard and Hannah Brandt. Amanda Pelkey was the overtime hero with her first of the season, set up by Gigi Marvin and Jamie Lee Rattray who both had two-assist games. It was only Boston’s second game of the season, and first win, backstopped by Aerin Frankel who stopped 31 shots faced. Ann-Renée Desbiens made 18 saves in defeat.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Boston’s Alina Müller is tied for first in league scoring with nine points in six games, which includes a league-leading seven assists. She was named PWHL First Star of the Week after a pair of two-point performances that extended her point streak to four games. Loren Gabel (3G 2A) and Jamie Lee Rattray (1G 4A) both contributed to last week’s wins and are tied for second on the team with five points apiece. Captain Hilary Knight got her first two points of the season last Saturday against Minnesota, including the overtime winner. Montréal has three players who are tied for sixth in league scoring with seven points in eight games. They are captain Marie-Philip Poulin, whose six goals is tied for second most in the PWHL, and both Maureen Murphy and Tereza Vanišová whose six assists each are tied for second most in the category. Vanišová and Murphy’s first goals of the season were game winners in each of the team’s last two victories against Minnesota and Ottawa, respectively.

 

TEAM KING CONTRIBUTORS

Eight players in today’s game competed in the Canadian Tire PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase during NHL All-Star Thursday in Toronto, counting six players who helped Team King earn a 5-3 victory over Team Kloss. All four Boston representatives, including Aerin Frankel, Megan Keller, Hilary Knight, and Alina Müller, were on the winning side, joined by Montréal’s Ann-Renée Desbiens and Marie-Philip Poulin. Both Müller and Poulin contributed two assists, while Desbiens (8/10) and Frankel (5/6) split the goaltending duties.

 

RIVALRY SERIES

The final three games of the 2023-24 Rivalry Series between Canada and the United States will be played on Feb. 7 in Saskatoon, SK, Feb. 9 in Regina, SK, and Feb. 11 in Saint Paul, MN. Boston has eight players competing including Team USA’s Emily Brown, Aerin Frankel, Taylor Girard, Megan Keller, and Hilary Knight, plus Team Canada’s Jessica DiGirolamo, Jamie Lee Rattray, and Sophie Shirley. Montréal has six players on rosters including Americans Madison Bizal and Maureen Murphy, plus Canadians Erin Ambrose, Ann-Renée Desbiens, Marie-Philip Poulin, and Laura Stacey. Kristin O’Neill was originally named to Team Canada but is unable to compete. Bizal and Girard are set to make their U.S. National Women’s Team debuts during these games.

 

WELCOME BACK TO BOSTON

It’s an exciting homecoming for Montréal forward Jillian Dempsey who will play a professional game in Boston for the very first time as a member of the visiting team. The 33-year-old from Winthrop, MA played eight seasons for the PHF’s Boston Pride, including six as captain, and captured three Isobel Cup championships. As a member of the Pride, Dempsey set all-time PHF records for games (142), points (146), goals (70), and assists (76). The Harvard University graduate also played two CWHL seasons with the Boston Blades where she won Rookie of the Year honors in 2014, and a Clarkson Cup title in 2015. Other familiar faces on Montréal who are returning to Massachusetts for the first time in their PWHL careers include two-time Isobel Cup champion Tereza Vanišová, Northeastern University graduate and Beanpot MVP Maureen Murphy, and Boston University alumnae Sarah Lefort and Marie-Philip Poulin.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

“We’re looking forward to getting back and facing Montréal after a short break. They’re a great team and we went to extra hockey last time against them. I’m excited for a rematch in Boston this time.” – Megan Keller, Boston

 

“I’m looking forward to having the team back together after a nice four-day All-Star break. It’s a huge three points heading into our February International Break.” – Courtney Kessel, Boston

 

I am looking forward to getting back on the ice. It felt like forever. I will be playing against Courtney Kessel, my former coach at Princeton, so that will be special. It’s nice to see her have the opportunity to be a head coach in this league. She is so intelligent and knows the game so well. It’s nice to see her back in a head coaching role.” – Mariah Keopple, Montréal

 

“In a 24-game season, all games are important. It feels even more true with this one, split in between two breaks. Our team looked good when we returned to practice, and I am expecting them to come out strong on Sunday.” – Kori Cheverie, Montréal

 

QUICK HITS

Montréal (+2) is tied for first in goal differential and Boston (even) is tied for fourth…Boston (2.67) is first in goals-per-game average and Montréal (2.50) is tied for second…Boston (2.67) allows the most goals-per-game on average and Montréal (2.25) is tied for third…Boston has won both games in which they’ve scored first…Montréal has scored the game’s first goal five times…Montréal has a plus-4 goal differential in the first period…Boston has never lost when leading after the first or second period…Boston (-3) is fourth in shot differential and Montréal (-44) rank fifth…Montréal (27.50) is fifth in shots-per-game average and Boston (24.67) ranks sixth…Boston (26.67) allows the third fewest shots-per-game on average and Montréal (33.13) allows the second most…Boston has not lost when being outshot by its opponent and Montréal has won four of five games when outshot…Boston (2/14) is third in powerplay efficiency at 14.3%…Montréal (1/24) is tied for last on the PP at just 4.2%…Boston (12/13) is first in penalty kill efficiency at 92.3%…Montréal (26/30) is fourth on the PK at 86.7%…Alina Müller (BOS) is tied for the league-lead with nine points…Marie-Philip Poulin (MTL) is tied for second in the league with six goals…Taylor Girard (BOS) is tied for the league-lead with one shorthanded goal…Hilary Knight leads Boston with 25 shots on goal…Laura Stacey leads Montréal with 31 shots…Hannah Brandt (33/75) leads Boston in face-off efficiency at 44%…Müller (40.8%) has taken the most draws on the team with 125…Sarah Bujold (34/58) leads Montréal with a 58.6% face-off efficiency…Poulin (58%) leads the team with 188 draws…Elaine Chuli (MTL) has won both of her starts this season and leads the league with a 1.50 goals-against-average and .962 save percentage…Aerin Frankel (BOS) has two wins and ranks fourth with a 1.91 GAA and fifth with a .925 SV%…The PWHL schedule will pause after this weekend’s games for an IIHF International Break, with action resuming on Feb. 14.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

 

BOSTON: 

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

Keller | Fratkin
Brown | DiGirolamo
Jaques | Morin
Healey

 

Frankel
Söderberg

 

Scratches: Kosta, Kronish

 

MONTREAL:

Vanišová | Poulin | Murphy
Bettez | David | Stacey
Lefort | Bujold | Marchment
Dubois | Dempsey | Dalton

Keopple | Ambrose
Tabin | Daoust
Lum | Bizal
Laganière

Chuli
Desbiens

Scratches: Boissonnault, Lásková, O’Neill

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: James Curtin (Walpole, MA) and Sydney Harris (Monument, CO)

Linespersons: Erika Greenen (Sugar Grove, IL) and Abbey Torres (Charlestown, RI).

 

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

 

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