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

Minnesota leads Boston 2-1 in the PWHL Finals presented by Scotiabank

 

SAINT PAUL, MN (May 26, 2024) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Finals, presented by Scotiabank, continues tonight with Game 4 between Minnesota and Boston at 6:00 p.m. ET at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota leads Boston 2-1 in the best-of-five series for The Walter Cup.

 

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 TSN4, 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 live on RDS Info with studio host Andrée-Anne Barbeau and analyst Karell Emard. Claudine Douville will have the play-by-play call with analyst Isabelle Leclaire and reporter Catherine Savoie.

 

GAME 3 AT A GLANCE

 

Minnesota took a 2-1 series lead with a 4-1 victory over Boston on Friday night at Xcel Energy Center. Taylor Heise opened the scoring just 59 seconds into the game and Sydney Brodt’s first goal of the year held as the game-winner at 17:38. Minnesota added a pair of third period goals by Michela Cava at 3:29 and Grace Zumwinkle at 16:10 scored shorthanded into the empty net. Heise and Cava led the offense with two-point performances, setting each other up with primary assists. Boston’s lone goal was scored by Alina Müller at 19:58 of the second period. Nicole Hensley won her second straight start of the series with 18 saves opposite Aerin Frankel who stopped 21 shots. Minnesota’s victory was their third straight on home ice where they are now a perfect 3-0 in playoffs. Boston suffered their first road loss in three games during the postseason.

 

STATE OF HEISE

 

Minnesota’s Taylor Heise has made her mark in the State of Hockey throughout her career and the PWHL Playoffs are no exception. The 24-year-old rookie from Lake City, MN, leads the playoffs with five goals and seven points produced in a trio of multi-point performances over the last four games. The first overall pick in the inaugural PWHL Draft has a playoff points-per-game average of 0.88 after contributing at a rate of 0.68 during the regular-season. If Minnesota emerges victorious, she will surely be among those in consideration for the Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP award, adding to a career that includes a 2022 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award won with the University of Minnesota Gophers, and 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship MVP honors earned with Team USA.

 

CAVA THE CLUTCH

 

Michela Cava has raised her game for Minnesota in the PWHL Finals and should come as no surprise given her history when the stakes are high. The 30-year-old from Thunder Bay, ON, has scored in all three games of the series and has contributed to six of the team’s 10 goals against Boston. A Minnesota win would give her four straight professional titles. In 2021, she was a SDHL champion with Luleå HF where she recorded 10 points in nine playoff games. Then in 2022, she was crowned a champion of Russia’s Women’s Hockey League as a member of the KRS Vanke Rays where she earned playoff MVP honors with 17 points in eight games. And in 2023, Cava won an Isobel Cup and was named playoff MVP as a member of the PHF’s Toronto Six with six points in four games.

 

BIG GOAL FOR BRODT

 

Every goal in the PWHL Finals is a big one, but Friday’s game-winner by Sydney Brodt meant a little bit more. The 26-year-old from North Oaks, MN, missed the first 17 games of the regular-season while on LTIR following an injury suffered during the league’s preseason evaluation camp in Utica, NY. The goal was her first of the year in 15 total games played. Brodt wore the ‘C’ during her NCAA career with the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, and last season captained the PHF’s Minnesota Whitecaps to within one goal of the 2023 Isobel Cup. Her squad included current teammates in forwards Brittyn Fleming, Denisa Křížová, Liz Schepers, and goaltender Amanda Leveille.

 

BOSTON BATTLES UNTIL THE BUZZER

 

Boston’s second period goal by Alina Müller in Game 3 was scored seconds before the buzzer and reminiscent of another late goal the team has tallied in Minnesota. Back on Apr. 27 during the final regular-season game at Xcel Energy Center, Boston’s Hannah Brandt broke a 1-1 tie with the winning goal scored with less than three seconds to play in regulation. The result of the goal was significant in providing Boston with three points in the standings and preventing Minnesota from clinching a playoff berth. In Boston’s next game at home on May 4, Kaleigh Fratkin illustrated another example of the team’s resiliency, scoring with 1:20 left in regulation to beat Montréal 4-3. Boston’s longest losing streak of the season was four games between Feb. 4 and Feb. 19 and will be battling with everything they have tonight, until the final buzzer, to prolong the series.

 

SPECIAL DAY FOR DARWITZ

 

Minnesota general manager Natalie Darwitz is among eight International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame inductees honored today in Prague, Czechia, as part of the 2024 IIHF World Championship. Attending the ceremony in her place is Merlin Ravndalen, who coached Darwitz at Eagan High School. She credits ‘Coach R’ for helping her grow as a player and as a person, teaching her that character and the lessons learned from playing hockey is far more important than winning. Darwitz won three gold medals and five silver medals at the Women’s Worlds between 1999 and 2010, and two silver medals and a bronze in three Olympics. She scored an astounding 43 goals and 83 points in 55 games at those events.

 

MINNESOTA’S CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE

 

Seven Minnesota players are looking to complete back-to-back championships tonight by hoisting The Walter Cup. Last March in the PHF, forward Michela Cava and defender Emma Greco were members of the Toronto Six that won the Isobel Cup at the end of the 2022-23 campaign. In the PWHPA, Team Harvey’s captured the Secret Cup with a group that included forwards Clair DeGeorge and Sophia Kunin, and defenders Mellissa Channell and Lee Stecklein. In the NCAA, the University of Wisconsin Badgers were crowned 2023 National Champions with defender Natalie Buchbinder. A PWHL title will build on Minnesota’s professional women’s hockey championship legacy, following the 2019 Minnesota Whitecaps that won the PHF’s Isobel Cup with forward Kendall Coyne Schofield, goaltender Amanda Leveille, and defender Lee Stecklein who earned MVP honors with the overtime winner in the final.

 

THE WALTER CUP & ILANA KLOSS PLAYOFF MVP AWARD

 

The winner of the PWHL Finals will be the first to hoist The Walter Cup, the league’s championship trophy, created in partnership with global luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. The Walter family is a leader in philanthropy and business, and provided the foundational support that launched the PWHL. The angular design of the Walter Cup is inspired by ice, with a nod to the six original teams in the league. The Walter Cup is made of sterling silver and weighs approximately 35 pounds, standing 24 inches tall and over 13 inches wide. The Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP Award is for the player considered most valuable to their team’s success throughout the playoffs and will be presented on the ice at the conclusion of the deciding game of the finals. The award is named in honor of Ilana Kloss, a trailblazer and long-time women’s sports advocate, who championed the launch of the PWHL as one of the league’s founding Advisory Board members.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

 

“The last one to win is the hardest one to win — by far. We can’t look to the outcome, we have to look at the process that is going to take for us to get to that outcome.” – Kendall Coyne Schofield, Minnesota

 

“We’re ready for tonight. I couldn’t be happier with the way we’ve played over the last week and the effort everyone has put in. We just need to play our game by being solid defensively and taking advantage of our scoring opportunities. Our players have stepped up and put themselves in this, and I expect they’ll be ready to go.” – Ken Klee, Minnesota

 

“We’ve been counted out all season before this, but here we are, we’re still alive. It’s just taking it one shift at a time, getting more pucks to the net, and giving ourselves the best chance to come out on top.” – Sidney Morin, Boston

 

“I feel like our backs have been up against the wall for quite some time. I think the run we went on to get us where we’re at is an accomplishment for sure. We know what it’s like to fight back and we’re going to continue to fight.” – Courtney Kessel, Boston

 

QUICK HITS

 

Minnesota (+5) leads Boston (-2) in goal differential in the PWHL Playoffs…Minnesota has outscored Boston 10-5 in this series…Minnesota (2.13) leads Boston (2.00) in playoff goals-per-game average…Minnesota (1.50) leads Boston (2.33) in playoff goals-against-average…Minnesota (+38) leads Boston (-63) in shot differential in the PWHL Playoffs…Minnesota has outshot Boston 81-61 in this series…Boston (27.17) leads Minnesota (26.75) in playoff shots-per-game average…Minnesota (22.00) leads Boston (37.67) in average playoff shots against…Minnesota has scored first in their last six playoff games…Boston has scored first once in six total playoff games…Minnesota has outshot opponents in six straight playoff games…Boston has been outshot in all six playoff games…Minnesota (2/21) has a 9.5% powerplay efficiency in the playoffs and are 0/6 in the Finals…Boston (0/12) has not scored a powerplay goal in the playoffs and are 0/6 in the Finals…Minnesota (16/16) has a perfect penalty kill efficiency in the playoffs…Boston (15/18) has a PK efficiency of 83.3% in playoffs…Minnesota’s Taylor Heise (5G, 2A) leads the playoffs in scoring with seven points in eight games followed by linemate Michela Cava (3G, 3A) with six points in eight games…Minnesota’s Sophie Jaques (2G, 3A) leads all defenders in playoff scoring with five points in eight games…Susanna Tapani (BOS) leads the playoffs with two game-winning goals…Kristin O’Neill (MTL) leads the playoffs with two powerplay goals…Amanda Pelkey (BOS) and Grace Zumwinkle (MIN) lead the playoffs with one shorthanded goal each…Megan Keller (BOS) leads the playoffs with 10 penalty minutes…Sidney Morin (BOS) lead the playoffs with a plus-6 rating…Taylor Wenczkowski (BOS) leads the playoffs with a 66.7% shooting percentage…Heise leads Minnesota with 25 shots on goal in the playoffs…Hilary Knight leads Boston with 23 shots on goal…Lexie Adzija (26/45) leads Boston in face-off percentage at 57.8%…Tapani (47.2%) leads the team with 142 draws taken…Kelly Pannek (84/149) leads Minnesota in face-offs and with a win-rate of 56.4%…Nicole Hensley (MIN) is 2-1 in the playoffs with one shutout and a goals-against-average of 1.67 and a save percentage of .915…Aerin Frankel (BOS) is 4-2 with a 1.69 GAA and a .946 SV%…Kendall Coyne Schofield (MIN) celebrated her 32nd birthday on Saturday…Boston has changed up forward lines for Game 4 with Jamie Lee Rattray returning to the second line, Sophie Shirley and Loren Gabel to the third line, Amanda Pelkey to the fourth line…No changes to Minnesota’s lineup for Game 4.

 

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
Rattray | Brandt | Knight
Gabel | Adzija | Shirley
Wenczkowski | Marvin | Pelkey
Babstock

 

Keller | Brown
DiGirolamo | Fratkin
Healey | Morin

 

Frankel | Söderberg

 

Scratches: Cook, Girard, Kosta

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: Jared Cummins (Buffalo, NY) – #1 and Jack Hennigan (Halton Hills, ON) – #44.
Linespersons: Antoine Bujold-Roux (Ottawa, ON) – #72 and Laura Gutauskas (Woolwich, ON) – #68.

 

Standby Officials: Grace Barlow (Vancouver, BC) – #22 (R) and Greg Offerman (Madison, WI) – #95 (L).

 

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

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