PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE (PWHL) PREGAME PRIMER: NEW YORK AT TORONTO

Third head-to-head meeting of the season with series tied 1-1

 

TORONTO, ON (January 26, 2024) – The fourth week of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season continues on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. ET inside Mattamy Athletic Centre where Toronto welcomes New York for the first time since the historic season opener.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

 

Fans in Canada can watch the game live on TSN1 and TSN5 channels, TSN.ca, and the TSN app with Daniella Ponticelli calling the play-by-play alongside analyst Cheryl Pounder. Live coverage in the United States can be found on MSG and MSGHD and streaming on the league’s YouTube channel.

 

SETTING THE STAGE

 

Three big points are on the line for two teams at the bottom of the standings. New York (2-1-0-3) has eight points and a point percentage of .444 that ranks fifth, and Toronto (1-1-0-5) has five points and a point percentage of .238 that ranks sixth. Toronto will be the first team in the league to play its eighth game as they make their fourth appearance at Mattamy Athletic Centre looking for their first win on home ice. So far at home, the team has lost 4-0 to New York on Jan. 1, 5-1 to Ottawa on Jan. 13, and 3-2 to Boston on Jan. 17. All their points have been accumulated on the road, including a 3-2 win against New York on Jan. 5, and a 4-3 shootout win in Montréal on Jan. 20. They most recently lost a 3-1 decision in Ottawa on Tuesday to end a two-game Canadian road trip. New York has similarly enjoyed all its success on the road, including the first shutout in league history in this building on New Year’s Day. They also won 3-2 in overtime in Minnesota on Jan. 14, and most recently a 4-1 victory in Boston on Jan. 20. New York will make one more trip to Toronto on Feb. 23.

 

THE SEASON SERIES

 

Toronto played its first two games of the season against New York with split decisions, including a 4-0 loss on Jan. 1 and a 3-2 win on Jan. 5. Several notable firsts were recorded in the opening game, including the first-ever PWHL goal scored by Ella Shelton and the first shutout by Corinne Schroeder who stopped all 29 shots faced. Alex Carpenter, the league’s current top scorer, was the first player to produce two points with an assist on Shelton’s goal, followed by a tally of her own. Chloé Aurard became the first player to record two assists. In the rematch at Bridgeport’s Total Mortgage Arena, Natalie Spooner, Toronto’s leading goal scorer, netted the franchise’s first goal. Rebecca Leslie, the team’s leading point producer, picked up her first assist on Alexa Vasko’s goal. Emma Maltais scored the first shorthanded ‘jailbreak’ goal in league history which held as the game-winner. Kristen Campbell made 29 saves for her first win of the year.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

 

New York’s Jade Downie-Landry had a breakout performance with a hat trick in last Saturday’s 4-1 win over Boston to earn PWHL Second Star of the Week honours. Her five points rank fourth on the team behind Alex Carpenter (8), Ella Shelton (7), and Jessie Eldridge (6). Carpenter has five points in her last three games, Shelton leads all defenders in scoring, and Eldridge is riding a five-game point-streak which includes a goal in each of her last four games. Corinne Schroeder is tied for the league-lead with three wins, one shutout, and ranks third with a goals-against-average of 1.72, and second with a save percentage of .949. On Tuesday, Schroeder was honoured as part of the Beanpot Hall of Fame Class of 2024 in recognition of her time at Boston University. For Toronto, Brittany Howard scored her first goal of the season on Tuesday in Ottawa and captain Blayre Turnbull picked up her first assist. Maggie Connors and Rebecca Leslie both had multi-point games last Saturday in Montréal.

 

SHOTS AND SPECIAL TEAMS STATS TO WATCH

 

Toronto (+44) ranks first in shot differential and New York (-34) ranks last. Toronto averages more than 32 shots per game which is the most leaguewide, while New York ranks third with an average of 28.5. Despite the shot totals, New York (2.83) has the highest goals-per-game average in the league, and Toronto (1.71) has the lowest. Toronto surrenders the fewest shots against with an average of 25.71 per game, while New York faces the most shots on average at 34.17 per game. On special teams, Toronto has not scored a powerplay goal at home in 11 opportunities with the advantage, and New York has successfully killed all 11 of its shorthanded attempts in road games this season. Conversely, New York ranks second on the powerplay in road games with three goals in seven opportunities, while Toronto ranks second last on the PK when playing at home where they have given up two goals on six tries.

 

FORMIDABLE ON FACE-OFFS

 

Keep an eye on New York in the face-off circle as the team boasts three of the most proficient centres at the dot. Of all players who have taken more than 50 face-offs this season, New York boasts the top three in terms of winning-percentage including Abby Roque (58/93) at 62.4%, Alex Carpenter (68/112) at 60.7%, and Jade Downie-Landry (38/64) at 59.4%. There are just eight players across the rest of the league who are above 50% efficiency with more than 50 draws taken, including Toronto’s Sarah Nurse (41/73) at 56.2%.

 

NHL ALL-STAR THURSDAY

 

Seven players in tonight’s game will represent the league in the Canadian Tire PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase, taking place during NHL All-Star Thursday on Feb. 1 at Scotiabank Arena. Ella Shelton (NY) and Blayre Turnbull (TOR) will be teammates on Team King, up against Alex Carpenter (NY), Abby Roque (NY), Renata Fast (TOR), Jocelyne Larocque (TOR), and Sarah Nurse (TOR) on Team Kloss. In 2020, teams of American and Canadian elite players went head-to-head in an All-Star 3-on-3 competition that included Carpenter, Fast, Nurse, Turnbull, and Natalie Spooner (Toronto). Last year, Carpenter and Nurse were among a group who took part in the skills competition in Florida, with Nurse’s deke in the breakaway contest among the event’s highlights.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

 

“We expect a solid game from New York. We took some strides in the right direction last week and we plan on building on that against them. I expect a very gritty, urgent effort from our group.” – Troy Ryan, Toronto.

 

“Today’s game should give us an indication as to how we’re progressing as a team. This matchup against Toronto will help us gauge our progress in relation to a team that we’ve seen twice since the start of regular season. We’ve been taking small steps in terms of our teamplay that I feel are moving us in the right direction, and we’re looking forward to measuring those improvements alongside those that I’m sure Toronto has made.” – Howie Draper, New York.

 

“I think our team is starting to build some chemistry on the ice and it’s been nice to see it translate into some offensive opportunities. I have been fortunate to be playing with some great players who have made my job pretty easy. Saying that, we’re not satisfied and hungry for more and will continue to build what we have been working on thus far.” – Jessie Eldridge, New York.

QUICK HITS

 

New York (+3) is tied for second in goal differential and Toronto (-11) ranks sixth…New York (2.33) has the third lowest goals-against-average in the league and Toronto (3.29) ranks sixth…Four Toronto losses are among the seven across the league that have been multi-goal differentials…New York has scored first in four of its games, Toronto in just one…Toronto (65-92-66) has the three highest shot totals in all three periods leaguewide…New York (4/15) rank second with a 26.7% powerplay efficiency…Toronto (1/19) rank fifth at 5.3%…New York (16/18) rank second with a 88.9% penalty kill efficiency…Toronto (14/16) rank third at 87.5%…Alex Carpenter (NY) leads the league with eight points…Rebecca Leslie (TOR) leads her team with five points…Jessie Eldridge (NY) ranks third in the league with four goals…Natalie Spooner (TOR) leads her team with three goals…Ella Shelton (NY) leads the league with four powerplay points…Blayre Turnbull (TOR) is tied for the league-lead with 10 penalty minutes…Abby Roque (NY) is tied for third in the league with eight penalty minutes…Emma Maltais (TOR) is tied for the league-lead with one shorthanded goal…Eldridge ranks second in the league with 26 shots…Sarah Nurse (TOR) and Turnbull share the team lead with 24 shots on goal…Roque (58/93) leads her team with a 62.4% face-off efficiency…Carpenter has taken the most draws with 112…Nurse (41/73) leads her team with a 56.2% face-off efficiency…Turnbull has taken the most draws at 101…Kristen Campbell (TOR) leads the league with 321:49 minutes played across six starts…Olivia Zafuto (NY) celebrated her 27th birthday on Thursday.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

TORONTO:

Cogan | Turnbull | Spooner
Miller | Compher | Leslie
Connors | Nurse | Howard
Maltais | Vasko | Willoughby
Jones

Larocque | Fast
Munroe | Flanagan
Rougeau | Poulin-Labelle

Campbell
Howe

Scratches: Jackson, Knowles

NEW YORK: 

Levis | Carpenter | Eldridge
Aurard | Roque | Giguère
Vespa | Downie-Landry | Woods
Packer | Labelle | Norcross

Fällman | Shelton
Hobson | Bourbonnais
Zandee-Hart | Baker
Zafuto

Schroeder
Levy

Scratches: Gruschow, Post, Saulnier

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: Krysta Ansell (Brownstown TWP, MI) and Cianna Lieffers (Saskatoon SK).

Linespersons: Sophie Thomson (Halifax, NS) and Erin Zach (Cambridge, ON).

 

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

 

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