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

Boston leads Minnesota 1-0 in the PWHL Finals presented by Scotiabank

 

LOWELL, MA (May 21, 2024) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Finals, presented by Scotiabank, continue tonight with Game 2 between Boston and Minnesota at 7:00 p.m. ET at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. Boston leads Minnesota 1-0 in the best-of-five series for The Walter Cup.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

 

Fans in the United States can watch the game live on MSG/MSGHD, NESN+, Bally Sports North Extra and Bally Sports Wisconsin Extra. 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 TSN 1 and TSN 5 channels, 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 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.

 

GAME 1 AT A GLANCE

 

Boston opened the PWHL Finals with a 4-3 victory in a back-and-forth battle with Minnesota on Sunday night. The game was full of momentum swings as Boston responded to Minnesota’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads with equalizers, Minnesota countered Boston’s 3-2 lead with a tying goal, and Boston ultimately pulled ahead with Jess Healey’s winning goal at 17:25 of the second period to cap a five-goal middle frame. Taylor Heise had two goals and one assist and Michela Cava had one goal and two assists to lead Minnesota’s offense. For Boston, defender Megan Keller had two assists, Susanna Tapani scored her third goal of the playoffs, Taylor Wenczkowski netted her second, and Hannah Brandt recorded her first of the postseason. Aerin Frankel made 30 saves to secure a fourth straight playoff victory, with Maddie Rooney stopping 18 shots in defeat. Game 1 was the highest scoring contest of the PWHL Playoffs to date with the teams combining for seven goals. Both Boston and Minnesota’s offenses totalled seven goals in their respective semifinals.

 

HOME ICE ADVANTAGE

 

Boston has won both playoff games and have six straight victories overall at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell dating back to Feb. 21. The successful stretch followed a rough patch of just one win in their first seven homes games and a streak of four straight home losses. Boston’s first home victory was a 4-3 overtime triumph against Minnesota on Jan. 27 in their third home appearance. That contest was one of three four-goal games for the Boston offense on home ice, also counting the regular-season finale against Montréal and Game 1 of the final. During the regular-season, Minnesota won five times and produced 14 points in 12 road games and are 1-3 on the road so far in the playoffs.

 

ONE-GOAL GAMES

 

Boston has played in 12 straight one-goal games, including all four of their playoff victories. The last time Boston did not have a one-goal result was Mar. 13 in a 4-0 loss to Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center. Across the PWHL, there was a total of 39 one-goal games played during the regular-season, which represents more than half of the 72-game schedule. Boston led the regular-season with 10 one-goal wins and 16 one-goal contests and are a perfect 4-for-4 so far in one-goal playoff games. They have won just twice all season by a two-goal margin and have just six losses by a spread of two or more goals. Minnesota had seven wins in 14 one-goal results during the regular-season and are 1-for-2 in playoffs.

 

MAKING THE MOST OF MINUTES

 

Boston has benefitted from timely goals from unlikely contributors who have made the most of their opportunities. Jess Healey scored the winning goal in Game 1 on just her third shot of the playoffs. It was just the second goal of the season for the 27-year-old from Edmonton, AB, who played the least of the team’s six defenders in Game 1 with 9:13 time-on-ice. Fourth line forward Taylor Wenczkowski scored the team’s second goal in Game 1 on her third shot of the playoffs and logged just 6:15 of ice time. The 26-year-old from Rochester, NH, scored her first goal of the season in the triple overtime marathon in the semifinals.

 

HEISE AND CAVA CONNECT

 

Minnesota’s Taylor Heise and Michela Cava found instant chemistry in Game 1, combining for six points. They played on the team’s top line with captain Kendall Coyne Schofield, who chipped in one assist, with the trio all recording plus-3 ratings. Heise, a 24-year-old rookie from Lake City, MN, scored twice with one assist on Sunday and leads the playoffs with four goals and five points. The first overall pick in the inaugural PWHL Draft has matched her regular-season goal total over her last two playoff performances and now has four goals and three assists in five total games against Boston. Cava, a 30-year-old from Thunder Bay, ON, scored the first goal of the PWHL Finals and contributed primary helpers on Heise’s goals for a career-high performance. Last season she was named MVP of the Isobel Cup Playoffs with the PHF’s Toronto Six, and also brings championship experience from her time playing in Russia and the SDHL.

 

HENSLEY GETS THE CALL

 

Minnesota is expected to return to goaltender Nicole Hensley between-the-pipes in Game 2. It would be her first playoff start since a 4-0 loss to Toronto in Game 1 of the semifinals. The 29-year-old from Lakewood, CO, started 14 games for Minnesota during the regular-season with one shutout, a goals-against-average of 2.19, and save percentage of .919. She’s more than familiar with the opposition having started four of the team’s five games against Boston during the year. In those games, she won twice with a 1.26 GAA and .953 SV%.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

 

“We’re feeling good, we’re really excited. The fans have been absolutely awesome here in Boston. We’re just going to keep going, we’re locked in.” – Kelly Babstock, Boston

 

“We’re going to continue to stick to our game plan and staying focused on that is our goal here today.” – Courtney Kessel, Boston

 

“They (Boston) definitely play a physical game just like Toronto but I think we can utilize some of the space in the offensive zone and use our speed and get pucks to the net tonight.” – Michela Cava, Minnesota

 

“Having an off day was great for our team to get both a mental and physical break. We had a chance as a staff to look at the good things we did and the mistakes we made. We’ll make some adjustments, and I expect tonight’s game to be just as competitive as Game 1. I like our level of preparation and we’re looking forward to another great contest.” – Ken Klee, Minnesota

 

QUICK HITS

 

Boston (+4) leads Minnesota (-1) in goal differential in the PWHL Playoffs…Boston (2.75) leads Minnesota (1.67) in playoff goals-per-game average…Boston (1.75) leads Minnesota (1.83) in playoff goals-against-average…Minnesota (+29) leads Boston (-54) in shot differential in the PWHL Playoffs…Boston (31.0) leads Minnesota (27.67) in playoff shots-per-game average…Minnesota (22.83) leads Boston (44.50) in average playoff shots against…Minnesota has scored first in their last four playoff games…Boston has scored first once in four total playoff games…Minnesota has outshot opponents in four straight playoff games…Boston has been outshot in all four playoff games…Minnesota (2/18) has an 11.1% powerplay efficiency in the playoffs and were 0/3 in Game 1…Boston (0/6) has not scored a powerplay goal in the playoffs and did not have a PP opportunity in Game 1…Minnesota (10/10) has a perfect penalty kill efficiency in the playoffs…Boston (12/15) has a PK efficiency of 80.0% in playoffs…Taylor Heise (MIN) leads the playoff scoring race with four goals and five points in six games…Megan Keller (BOS) is second in playoff scoring with four points – all assists…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) leads the playoffs with one shorthanded goal…Keller leads the playoffs with 10 penalty minutes…Keller leads the playoffs with a plus-6 rating…Taylor Wenczkowski (BOS) leads the playoffs with a 66.7% shooting percentage…Heise leads Minnesota with 21 shots on goal…Hilary Knight leads Boston with 16 shots on goal…Lexie Adzija (20/34) leads Boston in face-off percentage at 58.8%…Tapani (46.4%) leads the team with 97 draws taken…Kelly Pannek (61/108) leads Minnesota in face-offs and with a win-rate of 56.5%…Aerin Frankel (BOS) is 4-0 with a 1.37 goals-against-average and a .961 save percentage…Nicole Hensley (MIN) is 0-1 with a 4.00 GAA and .800 SV%…Boston and Minnesota’s forward lines and defensive pairings are the same as in Game 1.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

 

BOSTON:

 

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

Keller | Brown
DiGirolamo | Fratkin
Healey | Morin

Frankel | Söderberg

 

Scratches: Cook, Girard, Kosta

 

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

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: Jared Cummins (Buffalo, NY) – #1 and David Elford (Kitchener, ON) – #11.
Linespersons: Jérémy Faucher (Cowansville, QC) – #85 and Laura Gutauskas (Woolwich, ON) – #68.

 

Standby Officials: Jake Kamrass (Atlanta, GA) – #3 (R) and Greg Offerman (Madison, WI) – #95 (L).

 

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

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