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

Montréal hosts Boston in Game 1 of the 2024 PWHL Playoffs

 

LAVAL, QC (May 9, 2024) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Playoffs begin tonight for Montréal and Boston with Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinal series at 7:00 p.m. ET at Place Bell.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

Fans across Canada can watch the game live on TSN 1/5 channels, TSN.ca, and the TSN app. Fans in the United States can watch the game live on NESN, MSGSNHD/Z1-Z2, Bally Sports North/Wisconsin Extra, the Bally Sports app on mobile and tablet devices (including iOS and Android), ballysports.com when authenticated using pay-TV credentials, and on Bally Sports+, the standalone streaming subscription service available from Bally Sports. The game will also stream live on the Women’s Sports Network, and the league’s YouTube channel. Kenzie Lalonde will have the play-by-play call alongside analyst Cheryl Pounder and Raegan Subban reporting rinkside. French coverage is available on RDS 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.

 

SETTING THE STAGE 

It’s night two of the inaugural PWHL Playoffs with the start of a semifinal matchup that features second place Montréal (10-3-5-6) against third place Boston (8-4-3-9). The teams were separated by just six points in the standings with Montréal at 41 points and Boston at 35. While this will officially go down as the first game of the series, these two teams sure battled with playoff intensity just five days ago. Boston was in need of a single point to keep their playoff hopes alive and a regulation win to clinch. Montréal battled back from a 3-0 third period deficit, only for Boston to score the winning goal with 1:20 on the clock to punch their playoff ticket with a 4-3 triumph. The win gave Boston points in five straight games to end the regular season, accumulating 13 of a possible 15 points since the International Break. Despite the loss, Montréal earned points in four of their final five games which was good for 10 of a possible 15. This will be the first time the teams will play at Place Bell this season where Montréal won three of their four games. In total, they won seven of their 11 home games played in province for 23 points which ranked second across the PWHL. Boston’s performance on the road was tied for second best in the league with six wins and 18 points. Nobody played in more one-goal games than these two teams this season, including three of their four head-to-head battles, which should make for some exciting action with a trip to the PWHL Finals on the line.

 

THE SEASON SERIES

The teams split the season series with two wins each and tied 6-6 in points. Montréal narrowly outscored Boston 10-9 in four games. The first two games were won by the road team in overtime, including Boston by a 3-2 score at Verdun Auditorium on Jan. 13, followed by Montréal by a 2-1 score at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell on Feb. 4. Montréal won 3-1 at home on Mar. 2, and Boston won the most recent game 4-3 on May 4 at home. Boston defender Kaleigh Fratkin scored the winning goal to deny Montréal’s comeback bid. Both captains delivered with Boston’s Hilary Knight scoring a goal and an assist, and Montréal’s Marie-Philip Poulin scoring the game-tying goal in the third period. Montréal also got two powerplay goals from Mikyla Grant-Mentis who found the back of the net for the first time this season. Poulin led the season series with two goals and four assists, followed by teammate Erin Ambrose with three goals and two assists. Hannah Brandt was Boston’s top scorer head-to-head with one goal and three assists. Aerin Frankel started all four games of the season series for Boston with two wins and a head-to-head save percentage of .923. Montréal’s Ann-Renée Desbiens lost both of her starts against Boston with a save percentage of .875. Their matchup is a rematch of the gold medal game at the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Utica. Montréal outshot Boston three times for a total of 129-114. Montréal was 2/12 on the powerplay in the series, with Boston 0/7.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Montréal captain Marie-Philip Poulin tied for second in league scoring with 23 points, including 10 goals and 13 assists in 21 games. She was one of only two players in the league with a points-per-game average above 1.0 and has 11 points in her last five home games. Laura Stacey (10G 8A) and Erin Ambrose (4G 14A) tied for second in team scoring with 18 points each. Stacey ended the regular season on a five-game point streak with three goals and four assists in that span. Ambrose had eight points in five games following Worlds. Rookie Maureen Murphy (5G 11A) had 16 points in her first season with Montréal. Mélodie Daoust, who has been activated for the semifinal series, has points in four straight games and five points in six games overall. Boston captain Hilary Knight (6G 5A) was named PWHL Third Star of the Week following her two-point performance in the season finale. She finished the season with 11 points while riding a three-game point streak. Alina Müller (5G 11A) led the team in scoring with 16 points and has goals in two straight games. Defender Megan Keller (4G 11A) is next in line with 15 points and produced offensively in each of her last two games. Susanna Tapani (4G 9A) recorded 13 points in a league-high 26 games split between Minnesota and Boston, ending the year with three points in two games. Hannah Brandt (5G 5A) has 10 points, powered by a three-game point streak with a goal and three assists to end the campaign. Kelly Babstock, who recorded her first PWHL point on Saturday, moves up to the second line in place of Jamie Lee Rattray who will miss tonight’s game.

 

BRIGHT LIGHTS AND BIG CROWDS

Montréal returns to Place Bell for the first time since Mar. 10 when they played before a capacity crowd of 10,172. In four games in Laval, the team averaged 8,831 fans including two sell-outs. If there’s any team prepared for the bright lights and big crowds of playoff hockey its Montréal whose 24 games this season totalled 157,997 fans for a league-high average of 6,583 per game.

 

EN FRANCAIS

Montréal head coach Kori Cheverie has endeared herself to her new community by learning to speak French. Since October, the New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, native has been taking weekly classes to improve her second language skills and frequently begins media availability sessions with opening remarks in French. She often schedules her classes on game days to keep her mind focused and review speaking points for post-game media prep. Two days after the Duel at the Top at the Bell Centre, Cheverie appeared in studio at 98,5 fm with host Patrick Lagacé for her first live interview in French. During the interview, she shared her two favourite phrases: “C’est ça qui est ça” (“It is what it is”) and “Très bon” (“Very Good”) which her mom and friends have turned into t-shirts with pictures of her and the phrase.

 

GREEN IS GOLD

 

A fixture in Boston walk-ins this season has been the Green Jacket – the coveted prize awarded by the players to the individual believed to have contributed the most to the win and worn proudly the next game. The Boston-inspired jacket was designed by Ben Weiner of Jeanius Jackets who has produced wearables for pro athletes around the world and has befriended the team. Kaleigh Fratkin, who scored the winning goal in Saturday’s game against Montréal, is the latest to earn the honour and will arrive for the team’s playoff debut in style.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

“When I woke up, I thought to myself, oh, it’s playoff time! Every time you have a chance to play in the playoffs against any team, it’s exciting. It’s going to be even more special to play against Boston.” – Marie-Philip Poulin, Montréal

 

“It’s great for our sport. It’s great for our team here in Montréal and it’s all a part of it. We want to continue to spread the word that our team is here, in Montréal, and we want people to come and support us. It’s going to be a great duel between us and Boston. But it’s been amazing. It’s been something I could never have imagined, and I am really happy to be a part of it.” – Kori Cheverie, Montréal

 

“We’re extremely excited to be a part of the playoff picture and extremely honored to represent Boston in this way. We’re really excited to have the opportunity to face off against Montréal.” – Hilary Knight, Boston

 

“It’s a new season. We had a great ending and we came on hot after World’s, but this is playoff hockey and anything can happen. We need to continue our momentum and that’s playing the way that we play.” – Courtney Kessel, Boston

 

QUICK HITS

 

During the regular season, Montréal (+3) finished second in goal differential and Boston (-7) ranked fifth…Montréal (2.50) finished third in goals-per-game average and Boston (2.08) was sixth…Montréal and Boston tied for the third fewest goals-per-game on average (2.38)…Montréal scored first in 14 of their games and won 11, while Boston scored first 11 times with nine wins…Scoring by period for Montréal was 20-14-23 and for Boston 13-15-18…Montréal finished with the second most first period goals, Boston with the second fewest…Goals against by period for Montréal was 13-18-21 and for Boston 16-20-18…Montréal allowed the fewest first period goals and Boston allowed the second fewest third period goals…Boston led the league with 10 wins in 16 one-goal games, and Montréal had eight wins in 15 one-goal games…Boston (+29) was third in shot differential and Montréal (-67) ranked fifth…Boston (28.96) was third in shots-per-game average and Montréal (27.88) ranked fifth…Boston (27.71) allowed the third fewest shots-per-game and Montréal (30.75) allowed the second most on average…Montréal outshot its opponents 11 times, Boston outshot opponents in 10 games…Montréal (6.83) averaged the third most penalty minutes per game and Boston (5.83) incurred the second fewest…Montréal (13/82) was third in powerplay efficiency at 15.9%…Boston (4/53) ranked sixth on the PP at 7.5%… Montréal (63/75) was fourth in penalty kill efficiency at 84.0%…Boston (52/65) was fifth on the PK at 80.0%…Marie-Philip Poulin (MTL) tied for second in league scoring with 23 points…Erin Ambrose (MTL) was second in league scoring among defenders with 18 points followed by Megan Keller (BOS) with 15 points…Alina Müller (BOS) and Maureen Murphy (MTL) tied for third in rookie scoring with 16 points each…Poulin and Laura Stacey (MTL) tied for fourth in the league with 10 goals…Ambrose tied for third in the league with 14 assists…Mélodie Daoust (MTL) led the league with a 23.1% shooting percentage…Taylor Girard (BOS) tied for the league-lead with two shorthanded points…Susanna Tapani (BOS) led the league with a plus-15 rating…Kaleigh Fratkin (BOS) was third in the league with 26 penalty minutes…Stacey was third in the league with 96 shots on goal…Hilary Knight (BOS) led the team with 84 shots on goal…Poulin (260/449) led Montréal in face-offs and with a win-rate of 57.9%…Hannah Brandt (234/436) led Boston in face-offs and with a win-rate of 53.7%…Ann-Renée Desbiens (MTL) had seven wins in 16 starts with one shutout along with a 2.28 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage…Aerin Frankel (BOS) won eight of her 17 starts with one shutout and a 2.00 GAA and .929 SV% that both ranked third…Sarah Lefort (MTL) will miss tonight’s game as a result of a suspension.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

MONTREAL:

 

O’Neill | Poulin | Stacey
Grant-Mentis | Murphy | M. Daoust
Dubois | David | Dalton
Lum | Dempsey | Poznikoff

Tabin | Ambrose
Keopple | Boulier
Bizal | C. Daoust
Laganière

Desbiens | Chuli

 

Scratches: Bettez, Boissonnault, Bujold, Lásková, Lefort, Marchment

 

BOSTON:

 

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

Keller | Brown
DiGirolamo | Fratkin
Healey | Morin
Cook

Frankel | Söderberg

 

Scratches: Kronish, Gabel, Girard, Rattray

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: David Elford (Kitchener, ON) – #11 and Lacey Senuk (Toronto, ON) – #39.
Linespersons: Shawn Oliver (Ottawa, ON) – #56 and Erin Zach (Cambridge ON) – #60.

 

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

 

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