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

Boston leads Montréal 2-0 in semifinal series

 

LOWELL, MA (May 14, 2024) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Playoffs continue tonight with Game 3 of the best-of-five semifinal series between Boston and Montréal at 7:00 p.m. ET at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

Fans across Canada can watch the game live on TSN1, TSN.ca, and the TSN app. Fans in the United States can watch the game live on NESN 360, Sportsnet Pittsburgh Plus, 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 RDS2 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 2 AT A GLANCE

The longest game in PWHL history ended after 111:44 of action on Saturday at Place Bell with a goal by Boston’s Taylor Wenczkowski in triple overtime to give her team a 2-1 victory and a 2-0 series lead over Montréal. Amanda Pelkey opened the scoring for Boston at 6:48 of the first period, and Kristin O’Neill tied the game on the powerplay at 1:58 of the second period with her second powerplay goal in as many games. The teams proceeded to play more than a full game’s worth of scoreless hockey – a record 89:46 – before the tie was broken. Boston’s Aerin Frankel set a PWHL saves record for the second straight game with a 56-save performance. Ann-Renée Desbiens made a career-high 50 saves for Montréal. The victory extended Boston’s winning streak to four games between regular-season and playoffs and was their sixth win in seven games since the International Break. Montréal has now lost three straight games.

 

WENCZKOWSKI COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH

Taylor Wenczkowski picked the perfect time to score her first career PWHL goal. The 26-year-old from Rochester, NH, delivered the triple overtime heroics on Saturday in her 18th game between regular-season and playoffs and with just her fourth shot on goal of the entire campaign. It’s not the first time she’s delivered a clutch postseason performance during her professional career. Wenczkowski won back-to-back Isobel Cup titles as a member of the PHF’s Boston Pride in 2021 and 2022 and scored the decisive goal in both finals. She was named MVP of the 2022 Isobel Cup Playoffs with three goals in three games.

 

FRANKEL VS DESBIENS

The PWHL Playoffs have added an epic chapter to the head-to-head history between two of the world’s best goaltenders in Boston’s Aerin Frankel and Montréal’s Ann-Renée Desbiens. To date, the two have battled against each other 12 times including twice in playoffs, twice in the regular-season, once last year in PWHPA competition, and seven times internationally which has consisted of four games at the last two IIHF Women’s World Championships and three times in the Rivalry Series since 2019-20. Most notably, Frankel backstopped Team USA to a gold medal against Desbiens and Canada in 2023, with Desbiens winning the 2024 gold medal rematch last month in Utica. Nine of their 12 all-time matchups have been one-goal results including seven decided in overtime/shootout. Frankel has been on the winning side in nine of the 12 games, including every PWHL encounter.

 

ALL IN WITH AMBROSE

Montréal’s Erin Ambrose has been one of the league’s best defenders throughout the season and her contributions have only increased so far in the playoffs. The 30-year-old from Keswick, ON, finished second in scoring among defenders with 18 points, including four goals and 14 assists in 24 games, and finished fifth in average ice time at 25:52. That figure has skyrocketed to an average of 94:11 in two lengthy playoff overtimes, including a Game 2 total of 61:33 of the full 111:44. Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets holds the NHL single game record for time on ice at 65:06 during a 5OT game in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

BACK IN BOSTON

Tonight, Boston makes their PWHL Playoffs debut at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell where they’ll have the opportunity to advance to the PWHL Finals in front of their fans. The team has won four straight games in Lowell dating back to Feb. 21 and five of their 11 overall this season for a record of 3-2-2-4. It was in their home finale on May 4 where they clinched a playoff berth with a dramatic 4-3 victory over Montréal on a Kaleigh Fratkin goal with just 1:20 on the clock. Montréal tied for the second-best road record this season at 4-2-2-4, including a 2-1 overtime victory in this building back on Feb. 4.

 

RATTRAY AND GABEL RETURN

Boston will get a boost offensively with the return of forwards Jamie Lee Rattray and Loren Gabel to the lineup. Rattray finished tied for fourth in team scoring with 11 points, including three goals and eight assists in 24 games. Gabel was eighth on the team with seven points, including four goals and three assists in 17 games. Gabel was activated by the team off LTIR today and will play in her first game since Mar. 16. Rattray exited the regular-season finale against Montréal and missed the first two games of the series.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING 

“You can look at this as a five-game series or you can take it one period at a time. That’s what has helped me stay focused, just thinking of each period as its own game.” – Aerin Frankel, Boston

 

“I think we have the same message. We know Montréal is going to come out and battle. They’re a team that never gives up, doesn’t matter if they’re down 2-0 in the series. We have to come out and play fast, physical and continue to do the things we’ve been doing well. I think we have to get the momentum really quick in the game. That’s a big thing.” – Courtney Kessel, Boston

 

We don’t have anything to lose at this point. In a different kind of way, it’s a great position to be in. We can kind of wear our heart on our sleeves and just focus on the moment.” – Kristin O’Neill, Montréal

 

“Everyone could probably agree that we could be up 2-0 in this series. We’ve played nine-ish periods, and I would say that we dominated seven of them. We have a really great opportunity to take the momentum back.” – Kori Cheverie, Montréal

 

QUICK HITS

Four of the six games between these two teams have gone to overtime for a total of 71:02 of bonus hockey beyond regulation…Boston leads Montréal 13-12 in goals for and against in six total games this season…Montréal has outshot Boston five times in six games for a total of 240-192…Shots in two playoff games favor Montréal 111-78…Montréal is 4/21 and Boston is 0/11 on the powerplay in six head-to-head games this season…Montréal is 2/9 and Boston is 0/4 on the powerplay in this series…Kristin O’Neill (MTL) has scored both of the team’s goals on the powerplay…Gigi Marvin (BOS) and Maureen Murphy (MTL) have two assists each in two games…Four Montréal players lead the PWHL Playoffs in shots on goal including Laura Stacey (15), Kati Tabin (14), Mikyla Grant-Mentis (13), Marie-Philip Poulin (13)…Hannah Brandt (BOS) leads the playoffs with 73 face-offs (47.9%)…Poulin (50/72) leads the playoffs with a face-off win-rate of 69.4%…Aerin Frankel (BOS) is 2-0 in playoffs with a goals-against-average of 0.65 and save percentage of .982…Ann-Renée Desbiens (MTL) is 0-2 with a 1.29 GAA and a .949 SV%…Jamie Lee Rattray (BOS) will make her series debut on the team’s second line…Loren Gabel (BOS) will make her series debut as the extra forward…Grant-Mentis (MTL) moves up to the team’s first line…O’Neill will center the second line…Montréal will open the game with different defensive pairings from Game 2 including Erin Ambrose with Mariah Keopple to start…Moments after Game 2, Leah Lum (MTL) turned 28 years-old and Abby Cook (BOS) turned 26 years-old as the clock struck midnight.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

 

BOSTON:

 

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

Keller | Brown
DiGirolamo | Fratkin
Healey | Morin

Frankel | Söderberg

 

Scratches: Cook, Girard, Kosta

 

MONTREAL:

 

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

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

Desbiens | Chuli

 

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

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: Béatrice Fortin (Longueuil, QC) – #26 and Jake Kamrass (Atlanta, GA) – #3.
Linespersons: Patrick Dapuzzo (Rutherford, NJ) – #77 and Jérémy Faucher (Cowansville, QC) – #85.

Standby Officials: Andrew Bell (Dowington, PA) – #6 (R) and Laura Gutauskas (Woolwich, ON) – #68 (L).

 

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

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