PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE (PWHL) PREGAME PRIMER: MONTREAL AT MINNESOTA  

Second meeting of the season between the league’s top ranked teams

 

SAINT PAUL, MN (January 24, 2024) – The fourth week of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season continues on Wednesday night with two games, including the second meeting of the season between Montréal and Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center, beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET.

 

WHERE TO WATCH

 

Fans in the United States can watch on Bally Sports North Extra, 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 will also stream on the league’s YouTube channel, and is available in Canada on TSN+ with Clay Matvick calling play-by-play alongside analyst Alexis Pearson. French-language coverage will be on Radio-Canada and streamed on ICI TOU.TV with studio hosts Alexandre Coupal and Isabelle Leclaire. Jean St-Onge will have the play-by-play call with analyst Stéphanie Poirier.

 

SETTING THE STAGE

 

It’s a battle between first and second place in the PWHL standings with Minnesota (3-1-1-0) leading the way with 12 points through five games, up against Montréal (2-1-2-1) with 10 points in their first six games. Minnesota remains unbeaten in regulation time and have earned seven of a possible nine points in three previous games at Xcel Energy Center. This includes a 3-0 shutout over Montréal on Jan. 6, a 3-1 win over Toronto on Jan. 10, and a 3-2 overtime loss to New York on Jan. 14. One week ago, Minnesota secured its first-ever overtime victory by defeating Ottawa 3-2. The only time Montréal hasn’t produced a point is when they lost to Minnesota. They’ve alternated victories throughout the season including a 3-2 overtime win against Ottawa on Jan. 2, their 3-0 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 6, a 5-2 win in New York on Jan. 10, a 3-2 overtime loss to Boston on Jan. 13, a 3-2 win over New York on Jan. 16, and a 4-3 shootout loss to Toronto on Jan. 20. This is the second of five meetings between the teams this season, with Montréal scheduled to return to Minnesota again on March 24.

 

REMATCH OF THE RECORD BREAKER

 

Who can forget the last time these two teams played on January 6. A crowd of 13,316 packed Xcel Energy Center and set a worldwide attendance record for a professional women’s hockey game. Minnesota won the home opener 3-0 over Montréal, powered by a Grace Zumwinkle hat trick – the first in PWHL history. Susanna Tapani provided two primary assists, and Kelly Pannek contributed two secondary helpers. Maddie Rooney turned aside all 24 shots she faced for the first shutout in team history.

 

FIRST STAR PERFORMERS

 

Montréal captain Marie-Philip Poulin enters the contest fresh off being named PWHL First Star of the Week for the second week in a row. The 32-year-old scored three goals in her last two games played, including a dramatic game-winner against New York and a last-minute game-tying goal against Toronto. She’s now tied for second in league scoring with seven points and leads all skaters with six goals. Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle is tied for fourth in league scoring with six points and ranks second overall with five goals. The 24-year-old first-year pro is the only other player to earn PWHL First Star honors when she was recognized as part of the inaugural selections following opening week.

 

BOREEN SIGNS 10-DAY CONTRACT

 

Minnesota has signed forward Abby Boreen to a short term Standard Player Agreement ahead of Wednesday’s game. The 23-year-old from Somerset, WI is among the team’s reserve players. This will mark the professional debut for the former University of Minnesota captain who spent the last five seasons as a member of the Gophers. Her most productive offensive season was in 2021-22 when she finished second behind teammate Taylor Heise in scoring with 59 points including 25 goals in 39 games. She finished fourth behind Heise and Grace Zumwinkle with 36 points in 36 games last season. During the league’s pre-season evaluation camp in Utica, New York, Boreen scored two goals and one assist. Her signing corresponds with the team’s placement of goaltender Amanda Leveille on long term injured reserve.

 

BEANPOT BRAGGING RIGHTS

 

A trio of players in tonight’s game have bragging rights over their teammates following Northeastern’s 2-1 overtime victory against Boston University last night to cap the 45th annual Women’s Beanpot Championship. Minnesota captain Kendall Coyne Schofield and fellow forward Denisa Křížová are both former Huskies. Coyne Schofield won back-to-back Beanpots and earned 2013 MVP honors. Teammate Abby Cook, a former Terrier, won the 2019 Beanpot and was part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2023. For Montréal, Maureen Murphy was MVP of last year’s event after scoring the championship-winning goal for the Huskies. Two of her PWHL teammates, Sarah Lefort and Marie-Philip Poulin, are BU alumnae who never experienced a Beanpot title.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

 

Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle on the team’s outlook…

 

“Montréal is very skilled offensively. In game one we came out fast and stuck to our game. That’s what we’ll try to emphasize by sticking with possession of the puck – which will be crucial against a highly skilled offensive team.”

 

Montréal’s Mariah Keopple, a Wisconsin native, about playing close to home…

 

“It’s nice to get to play close to home. I have a lot of family coming to the game. I will get the chance to see them after the game. It’s fun to play in that building because we played there in the high school championship. I will get to reminisce about that and create new memories as a professional player.”

 

COACHES CORNER

 

“I think our team is at a better structure place than we were the first time we saw them. It was opening night with all the fanfare, so I’m hoping that we’ll be more solid as far as our own game goes. They’re a skill team, they have skill players. Obviously Poulin is an elite player in the world, so we need to be aware when she’s on the ice and make sure that we’re playing with our pace and structure to make it hard on her and all their players.” – Ken Klee, Minnesota

 

“Minnesota is currently the team to beat in the league and we know it won’t be easy playing in their loud building. Our players won’t back down from such a challenge and we are looking forward to seeing them put together another solid hockey game on the road.” – Kori Cheverie, Montréal

 

QUICK HITS

 

Minnesota (+6) ranks first in goal differential and Montréal (even) ranks fourth…Minnesota (2.80) ranks third in goals-per-game average and Montréal (2.67) ranks fourth…Minnesota (1.60) averages the fewest goals against and Montréal (2.67) ranks fourth…Minnesota has scored the game’s first goal four times compared to Montréal’s three times…Minnesota ranks second with six first period goals and are the only team with more goals for than against in all three periods…Montréal (-4) ranks fourth in shot differential and Minnesota (-17) ranks fifth… Montréal (28.33) ranks third in shots-per-game and Minnesota (25.8) ranks fifth…Minnesota (29.20) averages the second most shots allowed per game and Montréal (29.17) allows the third most on average…Minnesota (1/11) ranks fourth in powerplay percentage at 9.1% and Montréal (1/20) ranks sixth at 5%… Montréal (18/21) ranks fifth in penalty kill percentage at 85.7% and Minnesota (10/14) ranks sixth at 71.4%…Montréal’s Maureen Murphy and Tereza Vanišová are tied for the league-lead with five assists…Lee Stecklein (MIN) is tied for second in scoring among defenders with four points…Erin Ambrose (MTL) is tied for fourth in D scoring with three points…Stecklein is riding a four-game point-streak…Stecklein is tied for the league-lead with 10 penalty minutes…Grace Zumwinkle (MIN) leads the league with two game-winning goals and is tied for the lead with one shorthanded goal…Susanna Tapani (MIN) leads with a plus-7 rating followed by Zumwinkle and Marie-Philip Poulin (MTL) at plus-6…Poulin leads her team with 24 shots on goal…Zumwinkle leads her team with 20 shots on goal…Minnesota’s Liz Schepers (35/59) leads the team with a 59.3% face-off efficiency…Taylor Heise has taken the most draws for Minnesota with 83…Poulin leads her team with 145 draws and has the highest efficiency at 59.3%…Nicole Hensley (MIN) is tied for the league-lead with three wins in as many starts and ranks second with a goals-against-average of 1.65 and save percentage of .946…Elaine Chuli (MTL) will make her second start of the season after winning her debut against New York with 30 saves for a 2.00 GAA and .938 SV%…Minnesota’s Natalie Buchbinder turned 25 on Monday…Montréal’s Madison Bizal celebrates her 24th birthday on Thursday.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

 

MINNESOTA:

 

Křížová | Heise | Zumwinkle

Coyne Schofield | Pannek | Cava
Boreen | Tapani | Kunin
DeGeorge | Schepers | Bryant

Stecklein | Flaherty
Channell | Buchbinder
Greco | Cook

 

Hensley 

Rooney

 

Scratches: Brodt, Butorac, Fleming, Kremer, Leveille

 

MONTREAL:

 

Vanišová | Poulin | Murphy
Marchment | O’Neill | Stacey
Bettez | Bujold | David
Lefort | Dempsey | Dalton

Keopple | Ambrose
Tabin | Lásková
Lum | Daoust
Laganière

Chuli

Desbiens

 

Scratches: Bizal, Boissonnault

 

OFFICIALS:

 

Referees: Melissa Doyle (White Bear Lake, MN) and Charly Hurly (Quincy, MA).

Linespersons: Sarah Buckner (Plymouth, MN) and Antoine Bujold-Roux (Ottawa, ON & Albany, NY).

 

Follow the league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus team accounts @pwhl_minnesota and @pwhl_montreal,

 

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