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PWHL at Prudential: New York & Boston Fighting For a Playoff Spot

Courtesy of Jenna Falkenhiem

In the stands and all through the stadium a sea of Jerseys filled the stands. New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks, PWHL New York, New York Rangers, PWHL Boston, and so many more all here to watch history be made by PWHL New York and PWHL Boston. PWHL New York played their first game at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. This game was one of two to be played as part of their “Pack Prudential Center” series. Boston and New York are currently the bottom two teams in the league and are both fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Crucial points were on the line in this game for both teams. New York came into this game with a 3-2 win against Boston and Boston with a 2-1 win against Toronto. A large and lively crowd was in attendance and ready to watch this historic game. 

Courtesy of Lily Karlin & Jenna Falkenhiem

The first period was back and forth between both teams. Both teams had plenty of scoring chances and were able to keep pressure on in each offensive zone. Both teams had aggression on the ice delivering hard hitting hits and fast paced skating speeds. Both goalies and teams were able to block shots and the first period remained scoreless. 

Courtesy of Lily Karlin

Second period begins with aggression from both teams, both looking for a scoring chance, and points to help them stay in the race for the playoffs. 6:13 into the period Boston takes the puck and scores with a goal from Nicole Kosta (First of the season), with the assists to Lexie Adzjia and Megan Keller. There was a lot of chaos in front of the net and refs were unable to determine if the puck did indeed cross the redline. The refs called for a review and the goal was deemed good and Boston took the lead 1-0 Six minutes into the second period. Many scoring chances and many saves made by Aerin Frankel & Corinne Schroeder. New York was able to retaliate about ten minutes after the last goal by Boston. Jessie Eldridge (seventh of the season) puts New York on the board and ties the game 1-1 at 16:49 with the assists going to Jill Saulnier and Alex Carpenter. Going into the third period, fans were feeling more lively than ever with the game being so close.

Courtesy of Jenna Falkenhiem

The energy between the fans and both teams was higher than ever at puck drop with both teams looking for a chance to score to possibly win the game. Many scoring chances were made but none go in. 5:41 into the third period, Jamie Bourbonnais (New York) takes a hooking penalty giving Boston the power play. New York's penalty kill was able to fight off Boston's scoring chances all while fans chanting “Kill!” while Boston was in New York's zone. The power play ends for Boston and the score still remains 1-1 with both looking for a scoring chance and points. In a final attempt try and score, New York pulled the goalie with four minutes left to get an extra player on ice to try and get the goal to win. New York was able to get the puck into Boston’s zone and get shot attempts, but Boston steals the puck back and skates right into New York's zone and scores on the empty net. The goal was made by Adzija (first with PWHL Boston, sixth of the season), with the assist going to Kosta. PWHL Boston leads 2-1 with four minutes left in the period. Many more shot attempts are made by both teams, but the puck doesn't go in another time for either team. 

PWHL Boston wins 2-1, giving the team a two game winning streak. With only two games left for Boston and three for New York will either of these teams be able to salvage in order to clinch a playoff berth? Toronto clinched April twentieth against Montreal in OT. That leaves three playoff spots left, which are currently being held by Montreal, Minnesota and Ottawa. Boston needs two more points currently to tie Ottawa and put themselves in a playoff berth position. 

Courtesy of Jenna Falkenhiem

We had the opportunity to speak with Boston Coach Courtney Kessel and New York Coach Howie Draper, along with various players from Boston and New York to talk about the closing window for playoffs, first goals, Women's Worlds, and playing in the Prudential Center. 

We asked New York’s Alex Carpenter how as an assistant captain she was encouraging her teammates to keep their heads up.

“Yeah I think at the end of the day it's just making sure everyone is continuing to work hard. You know, it's easy to lose hope when you’re sitting in last place like I said you kinda need things to go your way with other teams but I think all we can do is control ourselves right now. If we don't win these next four games, then we’re digging ourselves in a deeper hole.”

I had the opportunity to ask Boston’s Lexie Adzija about her first career goal with Boston (previous six with PWHL Ottawa) and how it felt being in the Prudential Center, this was her response. 

“Anytime you get to play in a venue like this, it's pretty special. And to help my team get the win is even more special, and I think like Kosta said our line had a great night and I think all the lines had a great night. Someone was bound to put one in and it was just lucky it was me today.” 

We also had the opportunity to ask New York’s coach Howie Draper on how he felt about the loss and if it made him feel more confident or worried.

“Well the bottom line is like I don't think we played the game we feel we can play. I feel comfortable with this group we got four games left, and I know we can play better, the team knows we can play better. whether that was a 3-0, 4-0, whatever, we can't be happy with the way we played. We have to be a stronger team the next time we step on the ice.”

We also had the opportunity to speak with Boston’s coach Courtney Kessel about the Second goal of the game and her confidence of her team. 

“I think it was a little bit of relief when it went in and  I think even our Two goals versus Toronto, they weren't pretty but they went in. I think all year we’ve kinda been open for some pretty goals and we have to realize these are the best goalies in the world every single night we face and so it's not going to be the pretty ones.” 

Despite the loss, this game was a big one for New York with the largest attendance record at a home game with 5,132 in the building. New York will play Montreal on April 24 at Verdun Auditorium at 7 PM.

Courtesy of Lily Karlin

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