PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE (PHWL) PLAYOFF PRIMER: BOSTON AT MINNESOTA

The PWHL Finals presented by Scotiabank shifts to Minnesota with the series tied 1-1

 

SAINT PAUL, MN (May 24, 2024) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Finals, presented by Scotiabank, continue tonight with Game 3 between Minnesota and Boston at 7:00 p.m. ET at Xcel Energy Center. The best-of-five series for The Walter Cup is tied 1-1.

 

Minnesota is hosting a pre-game party outside Xcel Energy Center between 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. CT in the shadow of the Herb Brooks statue at 317 Washington Street. Hosted by Jessi Pierce of the Bardown Beauties Podcast – the event will feature a live DJ, special guest appearances by local hockey celebrities, games, giveaways, and beverage sales. In the event of inclement weather, the event will move into the Kellogg Boulevard lobby inside the venue.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

 

Fans in the United States can watch the game live on MSGSNHD/MSGSNZ1-Z2, NESN, Bally Sports North Extra and Bally Sports Wisconsin. The game will also stream live on the Women’s Sports Network and the league’s YouTube channel.

 

Fans across Canada can watch the game live on TSN3, TSN.ca, and the TSN app. Tessa Bonhomme will host TSN’s on-site panel with analysts Becky Kellar and Alexis Pearson. Kenzie Lalonde will have the play-by-play call alongside analyst Cheryl Pounder and Raegan Subban reporting rinkside.

 

French coverage is available on RDS2 with studio host Emilie Duquette and analyst Karell Emard. Claudine Douville will have the play-by-play call with analyst Isabelle Leclaire and reporter Catherine Savoie.

 

GAME 2 AT A GLANCE

 

Minnesota evened the series 1-1 with a 3-0 shutout victory over Boston on Tuesday night. Michela Cava opened the scoring for the second straight game, at 14:25 of the first period, and Sophie Jaques scored her first two goals of the playoffs, including an empty-net marker late in the third to seal the win. Nicole Hensleymade her first start since Game 1 of the semifinals and turned aside all 20 shots she faced. The shutout was Minnesota’s third in seven playoff games, counting two from Maddie Rooney against Toronto. Aerin Frankel made 20 saves and suffered her first loss in five playoff games. Boston’s streak of six straight wins and a consecutive home winning streak of six games since Feb. 21 came to an end.

 

PERFECT PLAYOFF HOME AND ROAD RECORDS TESTED AT XCEL

 

The PWHL Finals shift to Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center with both teams riding unbeaten home and away playoff streaks. During the semifinals, Minnesota won both of its home games against Toronto without allowing a goal in 2-0 and 1-0 shutouts in Games 3 and 4. Boston was also perfect in two semifinal road games, defeating Montréal 2-1 in overtime and 2-1 in triple overtime in Games 1 and 2 at Place Bell. During the regular-season, Minnesota won seven of their 11 games at Xcel Energy Center including four straight before the International Break. Boston won six of its 12 regular-season road games, including two of three played in Minnesota. Boston beat Minnesota 2-0 in this building on Feb. 25 and 2-1 on Apr. 27, with Minnesota beating Boston 4-0 here on Mar. 13.

 

JAQUES RAISES HER GAME

 

Two goals and first star honors in Game 2 must have felt nice for Minnesota defender Sophie Jaques. The 23-year-old scored for the first time against her former team and is now tied for first in playoff scoring with five points in seven games. It’s been a whirlwind year for the rookie, who went from winning the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Trophy in her final season at Ohio State to being selected tenth overall by Boston in the inaugural PWHL Draft. She was then part of the first trade in league history on Feb. 11 and produced 10 points in 15 regular-season games for Minnesota down the stretch. She is tied for the playoff lead with a plus-minus rating of plus-6 and second on the Minnesota blue line in average playoff ice time at 25:21.

 

HENSLEY AND FRANKEL

 

Goaltenders Nicole Hensley and Aerin Frankel are competing in opposite creases but have been longtime teammates representing the U.S. National Women’s Team. The duo has started the majority of Team USA’s games at the last four IIHF Women’s World Championships compiling three silver medals and a gold medal in 2023. At April’s top division event in Utica, NY, they combined for five shutouts in seven games, with Frankel setting a single tournament record with four shutouts. Hensley’s international resume includes two additional World Championship gold medals in 2016 and 2017, plus Olympic gold in 2018 and silver in 2022.

 

THE STATE OF HOCKEY

 

There are 20 players across the league who hail from Minnesota and 16 of them are competing in the PWHL Finals with their sights set on hoisting The Walter Cup in the presence of family and friends. PWHL Minnesota boasts 12 players from the State of Hockey, including Sydney Brodt (North Oaks), Claire Butorac (Andover), Maggie Flaherty (Lakeville), Taylor Heise (Lake City), Sophia Kunin (Wayzata), Kelly Pannek (Plymouth), Maddie Rooney (Andover), Liz Schepers (Mound), Lee Stecklein (Roseville), Grace Zumwinkle (Excelsior), plus reserve players Lauren Bench (Eagan) and Nikki Nightengale (Bloomington) PWHL Boston has four players from Minnesota, including Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights), Emily Brown(Blaine), Gigi Marvin (Warroad), and Sidney Morin (Minnetonka).

 

LET’S GET PHYSICAL

 

Physical play has been a big part of the league’s inaugural season and the PWHL Finals have been no exception. Through two games of this series, Boston has recorded more hits (per league stats) than Minnesota, leading 35-15 in Game 1 and 30-18 in Game 2. Boston defender Megan Keller was credited with five hits last game to lead all players, with fellow defenders Emily Brown and Kaleigh Fratkin credited with five each in Game 1. Boston led Montréal in the hit department in all three games of their semifinal series.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

 

“You look at the postseason as a completely different season. Obviously, you play the regular season and that’s what got us here, but I think you have to turn the page on that and look at the postseason completely different. It’s a grind and you just have to embrace the grind, embrace the challenge, and lean on each other…and I think that’s something we’re doing, and doing really well.” – Kendall Coyne Schofield, Minnesota

 

“The players have really committed to being sound in the defensive zone and you can see the results. We’re getting great goaltending, our scorers are scoring, and our special teams are doing their jobs. We’re just going to keep playing good hockey in every zone and good things will keep happening.” – Ken Klee, Minnesota

 

“Minnesota is fast, they’re going to want to play fast. For us, we’re trying to slow them down, keep them from getting to the middle of the ice. I think it’s going to be a good set of games here in Minnesota.” – Amanda Pelkey, Boston

 

“I think we need to show up for 60 minutes. Have a good start and get pucks to the net. Most importantly we need to enjoy it and not grip our sticks too tight. We need to slow down their speed and just play with heart.” – Courtney Kessel, Boston

 

QUICK HITS

 

Minnesota (+2) leads Boston (+1) in goal differential in the PWHL Playoffs…Minnesota has outscored Boston 6-4 in this series…Boston (2.20) leads Minnesota (1.86) in playoff goals-per-game average…Minnesota (1.57) leads Boston (2.00) in playoff goals-against-average…Minnesota (+32) leads Boston (-57) in shot differential in the PWHL Playoffs…Minnesota has outshot Boston 56-42 in this series…Boston (28.80) leads Minnesota (27.00) in playoff shots-per-game average…Minnesota (22.43) leads Boston (40.20) in average playoff shots against…Minnesota has scored first in their last five playoff games…Boston has scored first once in five total playoff games…Minnesota has outshot opponents in five straight playoff games…Boston has been outshot in all five playoff games…Minnesota (2/20) has a 10.0% powerplay efficiency in the playoffs and are 0/5 in the Finals…Boston (0/10) has not scored a powerplay goal in the playoffs and are 0/4 in the Finals…Minnesota (14/14) has a perfect penalty kill efficiency in the playoffs…Boston (14/17) has a PK efficiency of 82.4% in playoffs…Minnesota’s Taylor Heise(4G, 1A) and Sophie Jaques (2G, 3A) are tied for the playoff scoring lead with five points in seven games…Minnesota’s Michela Cava (2G, 2A), Liz Schepers (4A), and Boston’s Megan Keller (4A) are tied for third in playoff scoring with four points each…Susanna Tapani (BOS) leads the playoffs with two game-winning goals…Kristin O’Neill (MTL) leads the playoffs with two powerplay goals…AmandaPelkey (BOS) leads the playoffs with one shorthanded goal…Keller leads the playoffs with 10 penalty minutes…Jaques and teammate Mellissa Channell lead the playoffs with plus-6 ratings…Taylor Wenczkowski (BOS) leads the playoffs with a 66.7% shooting percentage…Heise leads Minnesota with 23 shots on goal in the playoffs…Hilary Knight leads Boston with 21 shots on goal…Lexie Adzija (26/41) leads Boston in face-off percentage at 63.4%…Tapani (46.2%) leads the team with 119 draws taken…Kelly Pannek (72/128) leads Minnesota in face-offs and with a win-rate of 56.3%…Nicole Hensley (MIN) is 1-1 in the playoffs with one shutout and a goals-against-average of 2.00 and a save percentage of .900…Aerin Frankel(BOS) is 4-1 with a 1.47 GAA and a .955 SV%…Frankel and Brittyn Fleming (MIN) are both celebrating 25th birthdays today…Kendall Coyne Schofield (MIN) will celebrate her 32nd birthday on Saturday…Boston has moved Sophie Shirley up to the second forward line and Amanda Pelkey down to the third line…Minnesota’s lineup remains the same as in Game 2.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

 

MINNESOTA:

 

Coyne Schofield | Heise | Cava
Křížová | Pannek | Zumwinkle
Butorac | Schepers | Kunin
Fleming | DeGeorge | Brodt
| | Bryant

 

Stecklein | Buchbinder
Channell | Jaques
Greco | Flaherty

 

Hensley | Rooney

 

Scratches: Kremer

 

BOSTON:

 

Müller | Tapani | Schafzahl
Shirley | Brandt | Knight
Rattray | Adzija | Pelkey
Wenczkowski | Marvin | Babstock
Gabel

 

Keller | Brown
DiGirolamo | Fratkin
Healey | Morin

 

Frankel | Söderberg

 

Scratches: Cook, Girard, Kosta

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: Grace Barlow (Vancouver, BC) – #22 and Jake Kamrass (Atlanta, GA) – #3.
Linespersons: Anthony Lapointe (Lachine, QC) – #78 and Shawn Oliver (Ottawa, ON) – #56.

 

Standby Officials: Jack Hennigan (Halton Hills, ON) – #44 (R) and Antoine Bujold-Roux (Ottawa, ON) – #72 (L).

 

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

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE STATS

 

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