PWHL Boston was led by Loren Gabel, who had two goals and an assist, as they defeated Toronto 3-2 on Wednesday night. Gabel & Alina Müller factored in on all three goals, while Emma Söderberg made 30 saves in her regular-season debut.
Hannah Miller opened the scoring nine minutes in, marking the first time Toronto has scored in the first period this season. Jocelyne Larocque went to the net and did a good job of protecting the puck on the play, eventually taking an initial shot. The puck came off Emma Söderberg's left pad and popped up in the air, and Miller was able to knock it into the net.
Boston struggled to string together any sustained pressure or zone time as the first period went on, and Toronto continued to look like the better team early in the second. All of a sudden, though, a switch seemed to flip; Alina Müller led the rush down the ice, with Loren Gabel getting the puck off the boards and tying it on a top-shelf corner shot with 7:22 left in the middle frame.
The good news for Toronto is that after allowing the goal, they seemed to maintain control of the game and held Boston without a shot on goal for six minutes. The bad news? Boston's next shot was also a goal, and once again, both Gabel and Müller played a part in it. This time, Gabel & Müller combined to feed Keller in the high slot. With patience, Keller waited, then blasted a slapshot that beat Kristen Campbell.
Boston held the lead until the 7:45 mark of the third period, when a turnover in the slot led to a scramble in front of the net. Jesse Compher, to Söderberg's right, attracted three Boston players, while Rebecca Leslie got the puck in the corner and brought it to the net. Miller was able to capitalize on a loose puck in the blue paint, tipping it in & tying the game as Söderberg couldn't get back in position quickly enough.
The game looked poised for overtime, but Loren Gabel called it with 1:50 to play in regulation. Once again, it was Müller coming in clutch for Boston, with a nifty drop pass to set Gabel up for the top-shelf shot. Gabel got through three Toronto players before firing off the game-winning shot.
Three up, three down
↑ Boston's PK – Boston had a perfect penalty kill entering Wednesday's game, and they extended that with five successful kills against Toronto. The opposing power play didn't have a ton great chances early on, with its best opportunities not coming until its fifth round.
↓ Toronto's PP – As good as Boston's penalty kill has been, that's how poor Toronto's power play is. Failing to capitalize on five opportunities in a single game isn't great, especially when special teams can really make an impact. Toronto has scored just once on the power play this season on 14 opportunities (7.1%) and has the second-worst power play in the PWHL.
↑ Söderberg's debut – Great to finally see Emma Söderberg make her PWHL debut, after Aerin Frankel played in both of Boston's first two games. Söderberg looked sharp, having played one preseason game in Utica, and had 30 saves in Wednesday's win. (Now, can we talk about getting her a Boston mask wrap? She's still rocking her Minnesota-Duluth mask.)
↓ Toronto's home record – Toronto has not any good fortune on home ice yet this season. It's still early, obviously, but they are now 0-3 at Mattamy Athletic Centre and have been outscored 12-3. Their next home game is Friday, January 26 against New York, with two games on the road before that.
↑ Hannah Miller --Hannah Miller isn't exactly a household name in North American women's hockey, but she definitely showed up ready to play on Wednesday and got her first two PWHL goals (and points). She also had a game-high six shots on goal. Miller, a Vancouver native, is back in a North American league playing hockey for the first time since 2018. She captained KRS Shenzhen last season and had 48 points in 32 games.
↓ Watch for Rattray – Something to keep an eye on, but Jamie Lee Rattray went slowly to the Boston bench after an open-ice collision with Toronto's Sarah Nurse late in the third. Could be something, could be nothing – we'll see. Boston's next game is Saturday against New York.
VP's Player of the Game
Alina Müller - Müller really looked great offensively in Wednesday's game. With three assists – all primary ones – she played a part in all of Boston's goals. Her playmaking abilities were really showcased in the win, and she now leads her team with four points in three games this season. She won 8 of 17 faceoffs taken.
Below is Gabel's second goal, with a fantastic setup from Müller:
(Photo: Heather Pollock/PWHL)