2024 PWHL Boston Season Review: Nearly There
- 3 min read

2024 PWHL Boston Season Review: Nearly There

2024 PWHL Boston Season Review: Nearly There by Melissa Burgess

Record: 12-3-9, 35 points
Final Standings: 3rd overall (of 6)
Playoffs: Lost in final to Minnesota, 3-2

Head Coach: Courtney Kessel
General Manager: Danielle Marmer

Leading Scorer: Alina Müller - 16 points (5G, 11A) in 24 games
Top Goalie: Aerin Frankel, 8-6-2, .929 sv% and 2.00 GAA

Overall Thoughts

For how much skill Boston had entering the season, I was a bit surprised they didn't end up higher in the standings at the end. Some of their top players were quieter than expected, and it cost them. Müller looked great in her first pro season, but I needed more from players like Hilary Knight, Jamie Lee Rattray and Hannah Brandt. That said, the additions of Susanna Tapani and Lexie Adzija turned out to be good fits for the roster. The goaltending tandem of Frankel & Emma Söderberg was fun to watch, and the team understandably leant more on Frankel later in the season as she was absolutely lights-out. Seeing them reach the final as a #3 seed – (facing off against a #4 seed) just shows how important it is to have a strong performance in the postseason, putting aside what happens in the regular season. This team got so close to a championship, and losing it in five games – and on home ice, no less - will undoubtedly leave a sour taste in their mouths, fresh for retribution next season.

What Went Right

Boston's season was generally all over the place, including a four-game losing skid in the midst of it. They never won more than two in a row, and at times found it hard to use the momentum of a win in the next game. But when it came down to it, they really locked in after returning from the Worlds break and won four of their last five games. That hot streak at the end helped get (and keep) them in a playoff spot, which they secured in the last game of the season.

Boston outlasted Montreal in the semifinal, sweeping them in three games – all of which required overtime. It just shows how closely-matched the teams were, and how they were able to battle to the end. The final was a five-game goaltending battle between Aerin Frankel and Maddie Rooney/Nicole Hensley, and Frankel certainly showed up for her team. When all was said & done, she stopped 286 of 300 shots faced in the playoffs and played 580:58, more than 240 minutes more than any other goaltender in the league during the playoffs. Wow.

What Went Wrong

Boston needed more from its offense this season. With just 50 goals scored, they had the lowest total of all PWHL teams. No player had more than six goals, and only Hilary Knight hit that mark. (Lexie Adzija had six goals on the season, but five of them came while she was in Ottawa.) In a high-scoring league, Boston scored two or fewer goals in 15 of 24 games, which didn't cut it.

Another area that didn't quite work out as hoped: the power play. Boston's advantage was effective a league-low 7.5% of the time, scoring just four times on a league-low 53 power play opportunities. Only three players – Müller, Megan Keller & Sidney Morin – scored on the power play for Boston this season. The team also had the second-worst penalty kill in the league, allowing 13 goals-against on 65 shorthanded chances.

Boston's season was up-and-down, but they came to play when it mattered most. The semifinals were impressive, but the final was back-and-forth between two good teams with plenty to prove. In the end, Boston was shutout in two of five games in the Walter Cup final, which made the difference.

Looking Ahead

Boston currently has 15 players under contract for next season: forwards Hilary Knight, Alina Müller, Jamie Lee Rattray, Loren Gabel, Taylor Girard, Susanna Tapani & Theresa Schafzahl; defenders Megan Keller & Jessica Digirolamo, and goaltenders Aerin Frankel & Emma Söderberg. Just today (June 20), they announced new contracts for forwards Hannah Brandt and Sophie Shirley, as well as defenders Emily Brown and Sidney Morin.

Between Frankel & Söderberg, the team's goaltending is pretty much set and is in a very good place. The top two forward lines are essentially locked in, and with a few draft picks to sign, there are only a few open slots up front. Boston has three defensive draft picks in the pipeline and now has four returning defenders signed.

Among players who have yet to re-sign, Lexie Adzija stands out. She seemed to gel well with the team after her trade from Ottawa. One player we know won't be returning: Jess Healey, who took a coaching job in Edmonton.

I'd expect Boston's front office to return as well. One open question is whether Tsongas Center in Lowell is still going to be their home base. They never sold out, but did hit or surpass 60% capacity in most of their home games, so it seems like the right size building and they may well return. However, I'd love to see them play some games at TD Garden and really give Boston a chance to show up for its women's hockey team.

(Photo: Luke Schmidt/PWHL)