If it’s still time to celebrate the historic first moments of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (LPHF), Montrealers are scrambling to get going.
The Montreal team lost 3-0 to Minnesota on Saturday afternoon in St. Paul.
“It’s still a young season, so there’s no reason to panic yet,” coach Kori Cheverie said after the match, the second for both teams.
This game was played in front of a new record crowd for professional women’s hockey. It only took a few days to surpass the established mark of 8,300 people on Tuesday in Ottawa: the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul received no less than 13,316 guests for this first Minnesota home game.
“It was great to see him,” Marie-Philip Poulin rejoiced. It’s good to see Minnesota State get behind their team. It’s very special to see how women’s hockey is going everywhere, how many people are talking about it, how excited they are. »
A few dozen of these fans also had the opportunity to take off their helmets at the end of the match: it was necessary to properly celebrate the first hat-trick in LPHF history, courtesy of Grace Zumwinkle in great form at the start. it’s from the season.
Nervousness and sanctions
The nervousness – or butterflies – at the beginning of the match was the theme of the first LPHF matches. This was no exception to the rule.
Despite a disjointed game by both teams, the first half was theoretically advantageous for the visiting team. Montreal created several scoring opportunities, especially with excess numbers. But it was in the deep offensive zone where the team lacked success, missing passes or shooting off target.
We were talking to you about Zumwinkle: the University of Minnesota player scored the first goal of the game, and the second in two games, right after the first half ended. Her beautiful backhand shot from a tight angle near the net baffled goalkeeper Ann-Renée Desbiens.
It is a goal that should (stop). In most cases he would have succeeded. Today they took advantage of this match, we have to live with it and do better next time.
Ann-Renée Desbiens, Montreal goalkeeper
In the second half, as is usual at the beginning of the season, the play of both teams went up a notch. Montreal dominated, but mainly thanks to the indiscipline of Minnesota, which received three penalties in 20 minutes.
But in the face of the efforts of Vanišová, Poulin and Stacey, in particular, jailer Maddie Rooney showed herself imperial. And her team needed it, as Montreal had the advantage in scoring chances and faceoffs.
“I was happy with our play in the first half of the game,” Cheverie said. But we deviated from our game plan in the second half of the second half. And in this league, you can’t take your foot off the gas. »
“Never before seen on the female side”
Zumwinkle – yes, her again – made things very complicated for Montreal from the beginning of the third. Their 2-0 goal was followed by a period marked by the visiting team’s indiscipline.
Montreal then committed four infractions in a row, which stifled their hopes. They were devastated when Zumwinkle completed his haul with an empty-net goal.
According to the Montreal team’s coach, the league – the officials and the players – are still adapting to a “style of play never before seen on the women’s side.”
We apply a physical, intense game. Maybe we crossed the line (in third place), we can’t take as many penalties. But we also have to understand what happens and what doesn’t happen in this league.
Kori Cheverie, Montreal head coach
In addition, after a victory in extremis in Ottawa last Tuesday, it is a second meeting in which the Montreal big guns fight to prevail. Starting with Marie-Philip Poulin, who has not scored yet. Does the woman who is considered the best player in the world feel a certain nervousness?
“No, I’m not nervous,” Poulin explains. He is part of hockey. I’m trying, but it’s the beginning of the season. We continue to improve. (…) Personally, yes, you put pressure on yourself, but in the end you also have to take it lightly. They are two parts. »