PWHL New York
Photo Credit: Chris Liverani

PWHL NY return home to face PWHL Montreal

PWHL New York begins a week where they will play two games in three nights, on a two-game winning streak and looking to improve their 2-1-3-4 start to thePWHL season.

Ten games into the inaugural PWHL season and the team from the Big Apple has played all five of its opponents at least once. By the end of this week, New York will have played two more games and be halfway finished with their season and lately they've begun to play better.

On Feb. 4, Draper's girls had fallen into a 0-3 hole versus Ottawa before storming back with four unanswered goals including Alex Carpenter's snipe in overtime. The win over Ottawa snapped a two-game losing streak and was the first of the two straight games that PWHL New York have won as of now. 

The only team that PWHL NY have not won against is the team they will face at UBS Arena on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. and that is PWHL Montreal. Montreal is coming off an impressive 2-1 victory over first place PWHL Minnesota. On top of this, the Quebeckers have outscored the New Yorkers 8-4 across two meetings earlier in the season. How did they do it?

PWHL Montreal

PWHL Montreal are second in the PWHL standings with 20 points, which places them one point behind PWHL Minnesota (21 points). Montreal's leader is Marie-Philip Poulin who leads their team with nine points (which ranks fourth in the PWHL) and is the main offensive threat that the New York defense will want to keep tabs of on Thursday. It will be fun to watch Poulin skate against her Team Canada teammates, Ella Shelton, Jamie Bourbonnais, and Jessie Eldridge.

While Poulin will demand the attention of her opponents throughout this game, she is far from the only offensive threat Montreal has. They have two forwards who rank in the PWHL's top ten for points so far this season in Poulin (9 points) and Maureen Murphy (8 points). While Poulin and her Team Canada teammate, Laura Stacey are Montreal's vinegar up front, Murphy is the oil, providing finesse playmaking while Poulin crashes the net.

That's not all PWHL Montreal have when it comes to offense because they also have Teresa Vanisova, the defender who scored the winning goal in last year's Isobel Cup final. The Czech-native currently ranks 12th in the PWHL in scoring this season with 7 points (one goal, six assists) and has also been a stalwart defensively as evidenced by her plus-4 rating. This is a lot to keep tabs on for PWHL NY but they will have to be up to the challenge if they want to keep their winning streak alive. 

Inside the Season Series

It's no secret that these two teams have benefitted from the elite play of their goaltenders: Corinne Schroeder and Elaine Chuli. However, when these teams first met, it was anything but a goaltending duel; Montreal drubbed New York 5-2 despite Jessie Eldridge opening the scoring and Schroeder being in net. It wasn't their special teams play that let New York down, it was their 5-on-5. Whenever a team scores two unanswered goals in the third period, that's when you know you're being outworked. This is because the third is what professionals practice to be conditioned for. They work extra hard in practice to have that 'second wind' in the third period, when legs and lungs are heavy, but in this first meeting New York didn't have the juice that Montreal did in the final frame and went down without a whimper.

Then, this Canadian American rivalry was renewed just six days later when Draper's team headed up to Montreal to face Cheverie's team. The result was a closer game but still another triumph for the Francophones over the New Yorkers. Montreal won the first period 2-0 on goals from Gabrielle David and Leah Lum. New York fought back with a smart second period and goals from Bourbonnais and Eldridge but it wasn't enough, and they lost 3-2 despite the efforts of back-up goaltender, Abigail Levy. Based on the fact that Levy fared better against the sharpshooters from Montreal during the last encounter between these Northeast rivals, it's not crazy to suggest she might get the start on Thursday. However, sometimes riding the hot hand is the better idea and this writer thinks Schroeder will get the start. 

On the stat leaderboard for goalies, New York's Schroeder ranks second in GAA with a 1.83 behind only Montreal's Chuli-- but there's a catch. The catch is Schroeder has played in 3 more games than Chuli, which means she has been more important to New York but also possibly a bit overworked. Will Coach Draper decide to give his All-Star worthy No. 1 goaltender a rest in a crucial game during this short season against Montreal? We shall see.

In addition, Wednesday's PWHL game will be a reunion for Montreal forward Sarah Bujold and New York forward Madison Packer. The two played the 2022-23 season together in the greater New York area with the Metropolitan Riveters.

Fans can watch the game live on MSG Networks starting at 7:00 pm or stream the game on Women Sports Network, the 24/7 streaming network dedicated exclusively to women's sports.

Anthony Paradiso
Follow me