Balance of Power: Ottawa 3, New York 0
- 5 min read

Balance of Power: Ottawa 3, New York 0

Balance of Power: Ottawa 3, New York 0 by Zoë Hayden

New York has yet to win a game at Total Mortgage Arena, as Ottawa came into Bridgeport and pulled into the #4 playoff spot with a regulation win, thanks to Boston's regulation loss against Toronto.

What happened?

The first period started off a little rough with teams exchanging penalties (thankfully, the officiating crew was prepared to recognize both interference and boarding). Ottawa had great movement on their power plays but they were stonewalled by an absolutely dialed-in Abbey Levy, who was square to everything and was tracking the puck well in some chaotic situations.

Ottawa was only able to beat her on a perfect tic-tac-toe play. Brianne Jenner disrupted an attempted pass out of the zone and kept the puck in the middle of the ice, finding Kateřina Mrázová. Mrázová flipped a quick backhand pass across the slot to Daryl Watts, who was able to put the puck behind Levy. The best chance of the first for New York, who only had 5 shots in the frame, was a breakaway chance by Paetyn Levis that Emerance Maschmeyer got a piece of and thundered off the glass.

The second period started with a few penalties, like the first, but no one was successful on the advantage. Maschmeyer started having to make some big saves, snagging the puck from Emma Woods who was trying to catch her out of position, stopping Jill Saulnier point-blank, and frustrating Jessie Eldridge on a few chances.

With 21.4 seconds left in the second, Hayley Scamurra took a hit up high from Levis that knocked her helmet off and she retaliated. That put New York in the position to have 1:39 of power play to begin the third period. Unfortunately for them, the best chance of the special teams sequence came from Tereza Vanišová shorthanded from the seat of her pants as she poked the puck in on Levy.

Later in the third, Vanišová boarded Abby Roque for some reason and almost started a line brawl. She was tackled by Saulnier after the hit. Vanišová was assigned a major for boarding and was ejected with a 10-minute game misconduct, and Saulnier got two for roughing. This left a 4-on-4 for 2 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of power play for New York. At the end of the 4-on-4, Jincy Roese got nabbed for interference. New York then got essentially 2 minutes of 5-on-3. But Ottawa got their clears in – Becca Gilmore with a particularly heroic block during the two-player advantage was really emblematic of the whole vibe. New York couldn't get anything going on Ottawa despite a golden, extended opportunity on the advantage.

There was some back-and-forth and flurry around Maschmeyer late, but Jenner yet again capitalized on a loose puck in the middle of the ice that bounced to her stick off of some New York bodies. She took a quick shot that beat Levy and made it 2-0 with not a lot of time left.

New York tried to push for a goal, but Emily Clark got the empty netter to make it 3-0. It was a decisive regulation win for Ottawa that was sorely needed, while New York's hopes of making the postseason are getting fainter.

Ottawa's next game is against the Toronto juggernaut at TD Place on Saturday. New York plays next on Monday, when they face Boston at UBS Arena.

Three up, three down

↑ Brooke Hobson – Hobson forced the issue singlehandedly for New York late, carrying the puck deep with speed to try to create chaos around Maschmeyer. She's been a bright spot for New York during this losing streak as a speedy, scrappy defender who is carrying a lot of minutes for the team. She spent last season with MoDo in the SDHL after graduating as Northeastern's captain, and she's on a one-year contract with PWHL New York. If I were Pascal Daoust she'd be high on the list of players I want to re-sign next season.

↑ New acquisitions – It was a bit of a mixed bag for the newest Ottawa forwards. Tereza Vanišová, acquired for Amanda Boulier from Montreal, was slotted in on the third line and saw time on the penalty kill, generating a shorthanded opportunity. She also committed a pretty nasty hit on Roque and could face supplementary discipline. For her part, Shiann Darkangelo (acquired from Boston in exchange for Lexie Adzija and the rights to Caitrin Lonergan) didn't see the ice much as a fourth-line center, though some of that probably had to do with the extended time on special teams.

↓ Sharing the load – With Amanda Boulier now in Montreal, let's take a look at TOI for Ottawa's defense. Zoe Boyd skated 1:42 and Emma Buckles 9:01; meanwhile Aneta Tejralová logged 27:32, Savannah Harmon 28:24, and Jincy Roese 29:47. Ashton Bell had a more normalized workload with 19:39. Similarly, some of this likely has to do with the special teams situations the teams ended up in. But this game proved to me that at the very least, Ottawa's coaching staff isn't thrilled with matchups against all six of their defenders heading into playoff-type situations. It's going to be something to keep an eye on. (For what it's worth, New York's Olivia Zafuto apparently only skated a single 9-second shift in last night's game.)

↑ Jill Saulnier – Absolute bulldog in the offensive zone Jill Saulnier spent a lot of the season injured and I have to wonder if New York's record looks different if she's in the lineup. Each of her shifts is always noticeable. Her forecheck isn't flashy but it almost always creates a shot towards the net.

↓ Total Mortgage Arena – Everyone has had a lot to say about New York's home rink this season, some of which is fair criticism and some of which has been just petty. Considering the short timeline of establishing the PWHL and the short list of rinks in the New York metro area to choose from, Total Mortgage probably made sense back in December. But it's inarguable that New York needs to be evaluating a more suitable and accessible home rink from a fan experience perspective – preferably a rink that is actually at least in the state of New York if they aren't willing to change the name as the PHF's Metropolitan Riveters did. That said, a crowd of 1,702 on a Wednesday night is still leaps and bounds ahead of where we were for a "low attendance" women's hockey game just a few years ago. The more glaring issue last night was the ice quality, as players seemed to be struggling with a very watery ice surface at the beginning of each period after it had been resurfaced.

VP's Player of the Game

Brianne Jenner – She started the transition that led to Ottawa's first goal and scored the second goal herself that basically dashed New York's hopes of a comeback. She excels at creating opportunities for her teammates and flying under the radar – and when she does score goals, they're daggers.

PWHL Standings (as of March 21, 2024)

  1. PWHL Toronto, 36 points (10-3-0-5), 6 games remaining
  2. PWHL Minnesota, 33 points (8-3-3-4), 6 games remaining
  3. PWHL Montreal, 30 points (7-3-3-5), 6 games remaining
  4. PWHL Ottawa, 24 points (6-0-6-6), 6 games remaining
  5. PWHL Boston, 22 points (4-4-2-8), 6 games remaining
  6. PWHL New York, 17 points (2-4-3-9), 6 games remaining

(Photo: PWHL)