THE PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE (PWHL) THIS WEEK

Highlights at the midway mark of the inaugural season

 

TORONTO, ON (February 26, 2024) – Here’s a look at highlights from the last week of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season that’s now past the midway mark of the schedule, plus a look ahead to this week’s action.

 

SECOND-HALF ATTENDANCE STARTS STRONG

Sunday’s game at Xcel Energy Center between Minnesota and Boston marked the official start of the league’s second half and generated the third-highest attendance figure of the season with a crowd of 10,186. More than one-third of all first-half games (13 of 36) were sold out, including all seven games in Toronto, four in Montréal, and two in Ottawa. Nearly two-thirds of all first-half games (23 of 36) either sold-out or had attendances above 5,000. The league set a women’s hockey attendance record with a crowd of 19,285 on Feb. 16 at Scotiabank Arena for the Battle on Bay Street featuring Montréal at Toronto. The next five highest first-half attendance figures are 13,316 (Jan. 6 at Xcel Energy Center for Montréal at Minnesota), 10,172 (Feb. 18 at Place Bell for Minnesota at Montréal), 8,646 (Jan. 27 at Place Bell for Ottawa at Montréal), 8,407 (Feb. 17 at The Arena at TD Place for Minnesota at Ottawa), and 8,318 (Jan. 2 at The Arena at TD Place for Montréal at Ottawa). The league’s total first-half attendance is 183,925 for an average of 5,109 per game.

 

BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS

Streaming of the first 37 games on the league’s YouTube channel has generated over 1.3 million unique views and over 27.8 million impressions. In addition to the millions of fans reached in Canada through national broadcast partnerships with CBC / Radio-Canada, TSN and RDS, and Sportsnet, regional networks in the United States are adding more out-of-market PWHL games to their broadcast schedules and creating original content due to audience demand. This includes additional coverage on Sportsnet Pittsburgh via NESN, and various Bally Sports networks such as Bally Sports Detroit, Florida, Ohio, San Diego, South, Southeast, Southern California, Sun, West, and Wisconsin. Fans can also look forward to a ‘Ref Cam’ and rinkside reporter added to select PWHL game broadcasts throughout the remainder of the season, beginning Feb. 28.

 

MONTRÉAL JOINS CANADIENS’ SKILLS COMPETITION

On Sunday, eight members of PWHL Montréal joined the NHL’s Montréal Canadiens for the team’s Skills Competition at Bell Centre. Captain Marie-Philip Poulin, along with Erin Ambrose, Sarah Bujold, Mariah Keopple, Sarah Lefort, Maureen Murphy, Laura Stacey, and Tereza Vanišová showcased their abilities for fans in such events as the Fastest Skater, Relay Race, Accuracy Shooting, Hardest Shot, and a Continuous Shootout. This is the latest example of recent PWHL integration in NHL events. In the last month, members of PWHL Ottawa joined the Senators for their Skills Competition on Jan. 28; the Boston Bruins wore PWHL apparel for their Women in Sports Night, attended by members of PWHL Boston on Feb. 6; PWHL Toronto joined the Maple Leafs for an Outdoor Practice on Feb. 8, and the PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase was part of NHL All-Star Thursday at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Feb. 1. The PWHL’s upcoming Takeover Weekend will feature games at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena on Mar. 16 and Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena on Mar. 17.

 

COMMUNITY CALENDAR TAKES SHAPE

Theme nights are becoming more prevalent across the PWHL and will be among the highlights throughout the second half of the season. This past week, Black History Month celebrations took place at games in Boston, New York, Montréal, and Toronto, with Minnesota and Ottawa scheduled to celebrate Black History Month in the week ahead. Minnesota also hosted the league’s first Mental Health Awareness night back on Feb. 14 and the first Pride celebration on Sunday. Boston also celebrated Community Heroes on Feb. 17, and Montréal held a Minor Hockey-themed game on Feb. 18.

 

YOUNGEST AND OLDEST FIRST GOALS

Two players scored their first career PWHL goals this past week, bringing the league’s total to 72 different goal scorers. The league’s youngest and oldest players are the latest to record milestone markers including Ottawa’s Akane Shiga, who will turn 23 on Mar. 3, and Boston’s Gigi Marvin, who will turn 37 on Mar. 7. Shiga’s goal on Feb. 24 also made history as the first PWHL goal scored by a Japanese player, which makes Japan the eighth country represented by PWHL goal scorers this season. The first goal scorers representing the seven other countries include Ella Shelton of PWHL New York (Canada, Jan. 1), Alex Carpenter of PWHL New York (United States, Jan. 1), Kateřina Mrázová of PWHL Ottawa (Czechia, Jan. 2), Theresa Schafzahl of PWHL Boston (Austria, Jan. 3), Leah Lum of PWHL Montréal (China, Jan. 16), Susanna Tapani, then of PWHL Minnesota (Finland, Jan. 17), and Alina Müller of PWHL Boston (Switzerland, Jan. 24).

 

HIGHEST AND LOWEST SCORES

Montréal’s 6-3 victory over Ottawa on Saturday represented the highest score in the PWHL this season with nine total goals. Conversely, Boston’s 2-0 win against Minnesota on Sunday equaled Toronto’s 2-0 win over New York on Jan. 26 for the lowest score of the season with just two goals. The breakdown of total goals in final scores through 37 games is: 9G (1), 8G (1), 7G (4), 6G (2), 5G (12), 4G (4), 3G (11), 2G (2), 1G (0). See all results here.

 

TWO SHOOTOUTS

New York played in back-to-back shootouts this week with split decisions, including a 3-2 win over Montréal on Wednesday and a 2-1 loss to Toronto on Friday. This brings the league’s total shootout count to three, with Montréal (0-2), New York (1-1), and Toronto (2-0) each competing in two. The league’s shootout rules allow players to take multiple attempts, which has been a factor in the results. Toronto’s Natalie Spooner scored on both of her shots in Friday’s win, and New York’s Alex Carpenter sealed the victory with a goal on her second attempt on Wednesday. Montréal’s Marie-Philip Poulin had two attempts on Wednesday and went one-for-four in the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to Toronto on Jan. 20. Through 37 games this season, 22 have been one-goal games – 13 in overtime or shootout. There also have been seven two-goal games, six three-goal games, and two four-goal games.

 

FIRST WINS AT UBS ARENA AND VERDUN AUDITORIUM

New York’s shootout win over Montréal on Wednesday was the team’s first victory on home ice this season in what was their second game at UBS Arena. The team also lost its first two games at Bridgeport’s Total Mortgage Arena. Montréal’s win over Ottawa on Saturday was the team’s first victory in their third game at Verdun Auditorium. The team has won all three of its home games at Place Bell. Montréal has been the most efficient at home with four wins and 13 points in six games, followed by Toronto with four wins and 11 points in seven games. Minnesota has three wins and 10 points in six home games, Boston has two wins and seven points in eight home games, Ottawa has one win and six points in six home games, and New York has one win and three points in four home games.

 

HAT TRICK FOR DALTON

In her team’s 6-3 victory over Ottawa on Saturday, Montréal’s Claire Dalton became the fifth player in the PWHL to record a hat trick. The goals consisted of a second-period shorthanded tally, plus two even-strength goals in the third period. The 23-year-old is second among first-year pros in goals this season with five, following Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle (7) who scored the league’s first hat trick on Jan. 6. Dalton’s Montréal teammate, Marie-Philip Poulin, also scored three on Jan. 10; New York’s Jade Downie-Landry scored three times on Jan. 20, and Toronto’s Natalie Spooner did so on Feb. 14.

 

“JAILBREAK” COUNT REACHES EIGHT

The league’s rule adaptation for penalty kill scenarios, whereby a shorthanded goal ends a team’s minor penalty, has produced eight ‘jailbreak’ goals so far. Three such goals were scored this past week, by Ottawa’s Gabbie Hughes, New York’s Alex Carpenter, and Montréal’s Claire Dalton. Carpenter and Dalton were the first members of their team to score shorthanded, while Hughes joins Ottawa teammate Lexie Adzija in the category. Boston also has two shorthanded goals this season, by Hannah Brandt and Taylor Girard; Minnesota has one, by Grace Zumwinkle, and Toronto’s Emma Maltais scored the first in league history on Jan. 5.

 

CARPENTER LEADS FIRST-HALF SCORING

New York’s Alex Carpenter is the first player to reach 15 points this season, scoring eight goals and seven assists in 12 games. She is currently on a five-game point streak, which is tied for the longest in the PWHL this season. Montréal captain Marie-Philip Poulin (6G 6A) is second with 12 points, followed by Toronto’s Natalie Spooner with 11 points – including a league-high 10 goals. Five more players have reached 10 points, including defenders Ella Shelton (NY) and Megan Keller (BOS). Maureen Murphy (MTL) is tied with another Northeastern graduate, Alina Müller (BOS), for first in scoring among the 2023 NCAA class with 10 points each. Tereza Vanišová (MTL) also has 10 points and is tied with Müller for the league lead with eight assists. See all points leaders here.

 

FIRST WIN FOR LEVY, FIRST SHUTOUT FOR FRANKEL

New York’s Abigail Levy recorded her first professional win on Wednesday at UBS Arena, just minutes away from her hometown of Congers, NY. The 23-year-old made 21 saves in regulation and overtime, then denied all four shootout attempts in the 3-2 triumph over Montréal. Boston’s Aerin Frankel picked up her first shutout of the season with a 41-save performance in a 2-0 win over Minnesota. She’s the fourth goaltender to earn a shutout this season – a category led by Toronto’s Kristen Campbell with two. Campbell also leads all PWHL goaltenders with seven wins, while Montréal’s Elaine Chuli leads all netminders with a 1.24 goals-against-average and .961 save percentage across her four wins in four starts. Ottawa’s Emerance Maschmeyer is the only goaltender to appear in all 12 of her team’s first-half games and leads the league in minutes played (704:08), shots against (301), and saves (272). See goaltender stats here.

 

MONTREAL TAKES OVER FIRST PLACE

Montréal (5-3-3-2) stands alone in first place at the midway mark of the season with 24 points through 13 games after last week’s win and shootout loss. Minnesota (5-2-2-4) is the only other team to have played 13 games but remain in second place with 21 points following Sunday’s loss to Boston. Toronto (5-2-0-5) is in third place with 19 points after extending their season-high winning streak to five games. Boston (4-2-2-4) has posted back-to-back regulation wins for the first time this season and rank fourth with 18 points. New York (2-4-2-4) has points in five straight extra-time games and are in fifth place with 16 points. Ottawa (3-0-4-5) snapped a five-game losing streak with a win over Boston last Monday but remain in sixth place, with 13 points, following a pair of road losses. See the full standings here.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

Black History Month celebrations continue at games on Tuesday night when Minnesota hosts Toronto at 3M Arena at Mariucci, and on Wednesday night when Ottawa hosts New York at The Arena at TD Place. Ottawa also is home on Saturday afternoon against Toronto with a Mental Health Awareness theme. Also on Saturday, Montréal hosts Boston at Verdun Auditorium where they will celebrate Women in Sports. The week wraps up with another Women in Sports celebration on Sunday afternoon at UBS Arena, where New York will welcome Minnesota.

 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024
8:00 p.m. ET – Toronto at Minnesota (3M Arena at Mariucci)
Streaming: Bally Sports North Digital, CBC Gem, YouTube

 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024
7:00 p.m. ET – New York at Ottawa (The Arena at TD Place)
Linear TV: TSN1/5, MSGSNHD/Z1-Z2
Streaming: Women’s Sports Network, YouTube

 

Saturday, March 2, 2024
3:30 p.m. ET – Toronto at Ottawa (The Arena at TD Place)
Linear TV: CBC
Streaming: CBC Gem, YouTube

4:00 p.m. ET – Boston at Montréal (Verdun Auditorium)
Linear TV: NESN, Sportsnet Pittsburgh
Streaming: CBC Gem, YouTube
French: RDS

 

Sunday, March 3, 2024  
12:30 p.m. ET – Minnesota at New York (UBS Arena)
Linear TV: MSGSNHD/Z1-Z2, Bally Sports North, TSN4/5, NESN+
Streaming: YouTube

 

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