Don't Look Down: Minnesota 2, New York 0
- 4 min read

Don't Look Down: Minnesota 2, New York 0

Don't Look Down: Minnesota 2, New York 0 by Zoë Hayden

Minnesota activated Taylor Heise from LTIR and got Liz Schepers back into the lineup, so they played with a full complement of centers for the first time in quite awhile. It wasn't a barnburner, but they comfortably skated away with a 2-0 road victory at UBS Arena.

What happened?

In the first period, both teams played back and forth and didn't seem to get much sustained pressure, as the opposition seemed to always have a stick in the way or a defensive plan to get the puck out. Minnesota started edging ahead, though, in the shot total and had the better opportunities throughout the period. Corinne Schroeder, back in net for New York, stopped all 11 in the opening frame, while Maddie Rooney only stopped 5.

The second period is when things really started opening up – and when Minnesota pulled ahead. At just 1:33 of the period, Kelly Pannek got the opening goal off of a bad turnover on an attempted breakout. Denisa Křížová picked off a pass by Olivia Zafuto at the blueline and got it to Grace Zumwinkle, who out-waited a sprawling Micah Zandee-Hart to flip a perfect pass to Pannek in front of the net. She made it 1-0 with plenty of room.

Less than two and a half minutes later, Minnesota extended their lead on the power play, with Maggie Flaherty taking a shot into a crowd that went off of sticks and skates on its way in. The goal was eventually credited to Abby Boreen, and Minnesota was up 2-0.

Minnesota had a lot of chances to extend their lead, but Corinne Schroeder was strong to them. New York started shifting the momentum a bit at the end of the second and were granted a late power play after some post-whistle shenanigans. Jade Downie-Landry entered the zone offside, but the whistle was late and she got a shot off on Rooney, which Natalie Buchbinder and Flaherty took exception to. Downie-Landry went down hard after the whistle. This resulted in a roughing call to Flaherty. While New York worked hard at the end of the second and beginning of the third, they didn't get anything past Rooney, and Minnesota had a lot of opportunities of their own.

On a Minnesota power play midway through the third, New York had a shorthanded chance with Carpenter and Roque which was broken up beautifully by Sophie Jaques. New York kept forcing the issue, and they pulled Schroeder with over 3 minutes left on the clock, but Minnesota did an excellent job at boxing New York out and they really couldn't present any dangerous options. The visitors easily sealed the 2-0 victory.

Three up, three down

↑ Defense wins games – Looking at both Minnesota and Montreal at the top of the league standings, their ability to play smart defensive hockey has set them apart. Minnesota didn't have to force anything to keep this game in their control and they never looked uncomfortable despite it being technically a close game. Locking down a 1-0 or 2-0 game and never looking rattled is harder than it might look, especially in the PWHL. When you can play 60 minutes like Minnesota did, offense naturally follows.

↓ New York defense – Obvious to list this, but it has to be the takeaway for Howie Draper's team. They need to do a better job managing breakouts and protecting the puck in the defensive zone in general if they want to get points from teams like Minnesota and Montreal, who will easily turn those mistakes into scoring chances. They play Montreal next, at home on Wednesday.

↑ Kelly Pannek, in general – This woman cannot be stopped. Pannek has been the heart and soul of Minnesota's game. She can basically do everything, whether it's killing a penalty or throwing a perfect pass, and she's been ridiculously solid for Minnesota including during their recent streak of losses. She got rewarded with a goal on Sunday, but whether she's scoring or not she's performing at an extremely high level for Ken Klee's team.

↓ Finishing – Pannek's goal was the only shot of the game that really went in the old-fashioned way. There were a lot of blocked shots, stick deflections, and big saves in this contest. It was not a goal-scorer's game. Alex Carpenter can attest – she had 5 shots, all of them quality, and none went in.

↑ Standings-watching – With this regulation win, Minnesota moves into second place in the PWHL, and with the regulation loss, New York sits at the bottom – tied in points with Ottawa, but Ottawa owns the tiebreakers. Boston, sitting in that bottom playoff spot just 2 points ahead of New York and Ottawa, now has a pretty big target on their back for the lower-ranked teams. Don't look now, but there aren't a lot of games left. For posterity:

  1. PWHL Montreal, 27 points (6-3-3-2), 10 games remaining
  2. PWHL Minnesota, 25 points (6-2-3-4), 9 games remaining
  3. PWHL Toronto, 24 points (6-3-0-5), 10 games remaining
  4. PWHL Boston, 18 points (4-2-2-5), 11 games remaining
  5. PWHL Ottawa, 16 points (4-0-4-6), 10 games remaining
  6. PWHL New York, 16 points (2-4-2-6), 10 games remaining

↓ Pizza Rats – It's a shame that Jaime Bourbonnais' Pizza Rat jersey wasn't good luck for New York because this thing rules.

VP's Player of the Game

Corinne Schroeder – Stopping 35 of 37 for a 0.945 save percentage gave her team a chance to win. She's dizzyingly consistent and hard to beat even with traffic in front of her. Even in a tough New York loss it's a treat to watch Schroeder battle.

(Photo: PWHL)