PWHL Initial Playoff Schedule Announced
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PWHL Initial Playoff Schedule Announced

PWHL Initial Playoff Schedule Announced by Zoë Hayden

The PWHL has announced the schedule for the initial four games in the PWHL playoff semifinals. Teams will be playing a best-of-five series to reach the final and compete for the Walter Cup.

Montreal and Toronto have clinched home ice and will be hosting the first two games of their respective series, though their opponents are still not decided. We won't know which teams they will face until the #1 ranked team picks their first-round opponent from between the #3 and #4 ranked teams after the conclusion of the regular season.

Montreal will play their home playoff games at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, home of the AHL's Laval Rocket, which holds 10,172 fans for hockey and where they have played several games throughout the regular season. Toronto will also play their first round playoff games at an AHL rink: Coca-Cola Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies, which can seat 8,100. Toronto has not played at the Coca-Cola Coliseum before.

Both facilities are upgrades for the playoffs, as both Toronto and Montreal have proven they can draw well beyond the capacities of their inaugural regular-season home rinks at Mattamy Athletic Centre (2,539) and Verdun Auditorium (3,795).

Both clubs also set records for the largest crowds ever to watch a women's hockey game during the course of the regular season. Toronto set the world record for their game at Scotiabank Arena on February 16 against Montreal with 19,285 fans in attendance. Montreal then hosted Toronto at the Bell Centre on April 20 and broke that record, drawing 21,105 fans.

Bell Centre has a largely open calendar for the month of May, in the event of a championship final series coming to pass for Montreal, but the availability of Scotiabank would hinge on how the Maple Leafs do in their best-of-seven series against the Boston Bruins, which they currently trail 3-2. That said, sellouts seem essentially guaranteed for the facilities they've already chosen, so the league might elect to not make any venue changes – but the idea of 20,000 people, give or take, packed in for a professional women's hockey playoff game is undeniably exciting to think about. And Montreal and Toronto would need to get out of the first round for this to be on the table.

Minnesota, Boston, and Ottawa are all still in the mix for the final two playoff spots and the final seeding is still undetermined. With New York's victory over Ottawa in regulation on Tuesday, Ottawa failed to clinch a playoff spot (and New York locked up the first overall draft pick). Minnesota can clinch with a single point against Toronto tonight (Wednesday May 1), and they would likely play their postseason games at Xcel Energy Center (capacity: 17,954) as they have throughout the regular season. Ottawa's home rink at TD Place is playoff-ready and can seat 8,585 fans. Boston's regular home rink is Tsongas Center in Lowell which seats 6,500. Ottawa or Boston could also explore using their local NHL facilities for the playoffs if that comes to pass, though the PWHL teams haven't hosted games at Canadian Tire Centre or TD Garden this season.

PWHL Playoff Semifinals – Game 1 and Game 2

Toronto vs. TBD (Coca-Cola Coliseum)

  • Game 1 – Wednesday, May 8 at 7:00 PM Eastern
  • Game 2 – Friday, May 10 at 7:00 PM Eastern

Montreal vs. TBD (Place Bell)

  • Game 1 – Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 PM Eastern
  • Game 2 – Saturday, May 11 at 7:00 PM Eastern

(Image: PWHL)