New York hosts Minnesota for the first time in Bridgeport
BRIDGEPORT, CT (January 28, 2024) – The fourth week of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season wraps up on Sunday afternoon with a 1:00 p.m. ET battle in Bridgeport, between New York and visiting Minnesota, at Total Mortgage Arena.
WHERE TO WATCH
Fans in the United States can watch live on MSG/MSGHD, on Bally Sports North, the Bally Sports app on mobile and tablet devices (including iOS and Android), ballysports.com when fans authenticate using their pay-TV credentials, and on Bally Sports+, the standalone streaming subscription service available from Bally Sports. The game is also available on the league’s YouTube channel, and for Canadian viewers on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West, and Pacific channels, and streaming on Sportsnet+. Jamie Hersch will have today’s play-by-play call alongside analyst Dave Starman.
SETTING THE STAGE
Today’s game features two teams looking to get back into the win column before the All-Star break. New York (2-1-0-4) is tied for fifth in the standings with eight points. They return home following a four-game road stretch that ended with a 2-0 loss in Toronto on Friday night. The team has claimed five of a possible 12 points since last playing at home, including a 3-2 overtime win in Minnesota on Jan. 14, and a 4-1 victory in Boston on Jan. 20. New York is still in search of its first win on home ice, losing games at Total Mortgage Arena to Toronto, 3-2 on Jan. 5, and to Montréal by a 5-2 score at UBS Arena on Jan. 10. Minnesota (3-1-2-1) holds second place in the standings with 13 points and hit the ice for the second of back-to-back road games. They suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss on Saturday in Boston after scoring a last-minute game-tying goal. It was the team’s second loss in a row after dropping a 2-1 decision, their first regulation loss of the season, against Montréal on Wednesday. All three of Minnesota’s road games this season have been one-goal decisions, counting a 3-2 win in Boston to open the season on Jan. 3, and a 3-2 overtime victory in Ottawa on Jan. 17, in addition to yesterday’s setback. All of Minnesota’s wins this season have come in games when they have been outshot by their opponent, and all their losses have come when they led the game in shots. New York gives up, on average, the most shots-per-game. This is the first of three times Minnesota will visit New York, returning on Mar. 3 to UBS Arena, and on May 4 with a venue still to be announced.
RECAP BEFORE THE REMATCH
Emma Woods was the overtime hero to lead New York to a 3-2 comeback victory over Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 14. It was New York’s first overtime win in team history, and Minnesota’s first loss of the season after opening with three straight wins. Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 lead with first period goals by Lee Stecklein and Kelly Pannek. New York’s Alex Carpenter and Jessie Eldridge both notched their second goals of the year to tie the game, and Ella Shelton had three assists. Corinne Schroeder was outstanding in goal for New York with a season-high 39 saves, including a penalty shot stop against Grace Zumwinkle in overtime. Maddie Rooney stopped 26 shots in the loss.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
There’s no shortage of offensive firepower in today’s game with six of the league’s top-10 scorers. New York’s Alex Carpenter is tied for second overall in points with eight, along with Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle who is tied for the league-lead with six goals. Ella Shelton (NY) is the league’s top scoring defender with seven points, just one ahead of Lee Stecklein who ranks second in points from the blueline with six. Jessie Eldridge leads New York with four goals and Minnesota’s Taylor Heise has three goals to share the lead among first-year pros. Both players have six points. Despite Saturday’s loss, seven different Minnesota skaters produced points including Stecklein and Zumwinkle with two, and Heise with one. Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield’s second goal of the season tied the game in the final minute with the net empty.
WELCOME BACK TO CONNECTICUT
A pair of Minnesota players have collegiate ties to the state of Connecticut. Forward Michela Cava spent two seasons of her NCAA career at the University of Connecticut from 2012-14, producing back-to-back 10-goal campaigns, with 17 and 27 points as a freshman and sophomore for the Huskies. Emma Greco patrolled the blue line for the Quinnipiac Bobcats from 2013-17 and was teammates with New York’s Emma Woods in all four seasons. Greco stayed local the following season as a member of the PHF’s Connecticut Whale in 2017-18.
NHL ALL-STAR THURSDAY
Eight players in today’s game will represent the league in the Canadian Tire PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase, taking place during NHL All-Star Thursday on Feb. 1 at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. Ella Shelton (NY) will join Kendall Coyne Schofield (MIN), Kelly Pannek (MIN), and Lee Stecklein on Team King, up against Alex Carpenter (NY), Abby Roque (NY), Taylor Heise (MIN), and Nicole Hensley (MIN) on Team Kloss. Coyne Schofield became the first woman ever to compete in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition in 2019 with her electrifying performance in the Fastest Skater contest. Then, in 2020, teams of American and Canadian elite players went head-to-head in an All-Star 3-on-3 competition that included Carpenter, Coyne Schofield, and Stecklein. Last year, Carpenter was among a group who took part in the skills competition in Florida.
CAPTAIN MAKES HER HOME DEBUT
New York captain Micah Zandee-Hart will play in front of the home crowd for the first time this season. The 27-year-old made her season debut in last Saturday’s game in Boston after recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Here’s what she had to say before the game:
“I think we’re eager to bounce back after the loss in Toronto. Though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, we took some steps forward as a group. Sunday will be a great day to put everything together in front of a home crowd!”
This is the first of two road trips where Minnesota will play back-to-back games. The next instance occurs Feb. 17 and 18 in Ottawa and Montréal. Here’s what head coach Ken Klee had to say about the opportunity pre-game:
“We try to manage it as best we can. We rolled four lines pretty much the entire game yesterday and that’s the way I like to play it, where every player has a role, every plyer is included, every player is focused. As long as we keep that, it keeps the team in a happy mental place where they know they have to contribute.”
Minnesota (+4) is first in goal differential and New York (+1) ranks fourth…Minnesota (2.57) ranks second in goals-per-game average and New York (2.43) ranks fifth…Minnesota (2.0) allows the lowest goals-against per game and New York (2.29) allows the third most on average…Both Minnesota and New York have scored the game’s first goal four times…Minnesota’s best offensive period is the first with seven goals, New York has scored seven times in the third…Minnesota (+9) is third in shot differential and New York (-40) ranks sixth…Minnesota (28.0) ranks third in shots-per-game average and New York (27.14) ranks fifth…Minnesota (25.43) allows the second-fewest shots-per-game on average and New York (33.57) allows the most shots-per-game…New York (4/19) ranks second in powerplay efficiency at 21.1%…Minnesota (1/21) ranks fifth on the PP at 4.8%…New York (18/21) is tied for fourth at penalty kill efficiency at 85.7%…Minnesota (16/20) is sixth on the PK at 80%…Alex Carpenter (NY) and Grace Zumwinkle (MIN) are tied for second with eight points…Zumwinkle is tied for the league-lead with six goals…Susanna Tapani (MIN) leads the league with a plus-7 rating…Abby Roque (NY) and Lee Stecklein (MIN) are tied for first with 10 penalty minutes…Ella Shelton (NY) leads the league with four powerplay points…Zumwinkle is tied for the league-lead with one shorthanded goal…Jessie Eldridge (NY) is tied for the league-lead with 31 shots on goal…Zumwinkle leads her team with 29 shots…Roque (67/111) leads New York with a face-off winning percentage of 60.4…Carpenter (58.1%) has taken the most draws on the team at 129…Taylor Heise (71/128) leads Minnesota with a 55.5% face-off percentage and leads the team in draws…Nicole Hensley (MIN) is tied for the league-lead with three wins and ranks second with a goals-against-average of 1.75 and third with a save percentage of .941…Abigail Levy makes her third start of the season in search of her first win, carrying a 3.07 GAA and .910 SV%…New York reserve Claire Thompson is celebrating her 26th birthday today.
Levis | Carpenter | Eldridge
Aurard | Roque | Giguère
Vespa | Downie-Landry | Woods
Packer | Labelle | Norcross
Fällman | Shelton
Hobson | Bourbonnais
Zandee-Hart | Baker
Scratches: Gruschow, Post, Saulnier, Zafuto
Křížová | Heise | Zumwinkle
Coyne Schofield | Pannek | Boreen
Cava | Tapani | Kunin
Fleming | Schepers | Butorac
Stecklein | Buchbinder
Channell | Flaherty
Greco | Cook
Scratches: Brodt, Bryant, Kremer, Leveille
Referees: Katie Glover (Seattle, WA) and Jake Kamrass (Atlanta, GA).
Linespersons: Jarrett Burton (Kingston, ON) and Patrick Dapuzzo (Rutherford, NJ).