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PWHL New York: A Hopeful Homecoming Ends in Disappointment

Courtesy of Nala Burton

The fight to make the PWHL inaugural playoffs is on and New York desperately had to make up some ground to stay in the race. The team returned home to Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut winless in their last six games and were hoping to get back in the win column against PWHL Ottawa, the other team occupying the bottom of the standings. Ottawa was coming off a close shootout loss to Boston on Saturday at Little Caesars Arena, in the first of two takeover games hosted over the weekend. With both teams in need of victories and important points, this contest was sure to be a great matchup.

Both teams laid on the pressure to start, but Micah Zandee-Hart took a two minute penalty for cross checking 3:45 into the game, giving Ottawa the first power play of the contest. Despite several great looks, New York’s Abbey Levy stood tall in her own net by making a handful of tremendous saves which kept the score at 0-0. Both teams took various other penalties very early in the period, but neither unit was successful in finding the back of the net. Most of the first period passed by uneventfully until Daryl Watts beat Levy to put Ottawa up 1-0 with 2:29 remaining in the opening frame. Kateřina Mrázová and Brianne Jenner picked up the assists on Watts' goal.

The second period carried over the same theme as the first, penalties on top of penalties. Despite the frequent 5-on-4 or occasional 4-on-4 play, the score stayed the same. Ottawa had a beautiful chance to put New York in a two goal deficit, but the puck rang off the post and New York set up several great sequences in the offensive zone even though the puck never made it into the net.  Ottawa’s Emerance Maschmeyer continuously made save after save to keep New York off the board. The second finished with a 1-0 score, but New York would start the third with 1:39 left on the power play thanks to a late penalty to Ottawa’s Hayley Scamurra for roughing. 


The third period was full of fireworks as Tereza Vanišová received a five minute major for boarding in her first game with her new squad after being traded from Montreal at the trade deadline on Monday. New York got a 5-on-3 chance as Jill Sauliner sat for two minutes due to a roughing call and then Ottawa took another bad penalty. Even with all the extra power on the ice, no goals were scored for New York. In the dying minutes of the final frame, Ottawa’s captain Brianne Jenner scored her fourth goal of the season to put her team up by two. Emily Clark then sealed the deal with an empty netter to make the final score 3-0 Ottawa.

Maschmeyer stopped all 26 shots faced to earn her first PWHL shutout and Ottawa gained three important points to put themselves in the fourth and final playoff spot for the time being. 

“It’s a good feeling,” Maschmeyer said about getting her first shutout. “I think that we’ve gotten close a few times, but my team did a great job at keeping it simple in front of me and getting gritty whenever they needed to so I appreciate that.” 

On the other side of the ice, New York lost their seventh straight game and is right back in action on Monday at UBS Arena when they take on PWHL Boston. 

New York Head Coach Howie Draper on the team’s play in the loss, “Kind of a similar story to the last seven or eight games or longer. Slow start, not what we wanted, not what we discussed as a group. We let the other team take it to us in the first period. The response was decent in the second and third, but we can’t continue to give other teams the lead and dig ourselves a hole.” 

Draper also pointed out that the losses have seemed to impact the team’s confidence and the mental aspect of the game is playing a major role in trying to get back to their level of play in order to secure a win. 

“When you’ve been pushed down a number of times, you start to worry about getting pushed down again. I think that’s kind of where we’re starting to get into.”

Despite the string of recent losses, there is still some positivity shining through in the New York locker room as forward Jessie Eldridge points out.

“At the end of the day, this league is what we wanted and what we dreamed of. We have the best job in the world so I think when things aren’t going your way, you’re losing, it’s really easy to get down.” said Eldridge. “But I think the most important is that the sun is going to come up tomorrow and try to get back at it. When we’re not having fun, I mean why do you do it?” 

“We’re grinding right now. We know that. We know we’re going to get a bounce eventually so it’s just about that, keeping it light and trying to enjoy it the most because you never know how many opportunities you’re going to get like this.”

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