Montreal lost their much-anticipated home opener on Saturday afternoon at the 21.01 Centre in Verdun.
Erin Ambrose and Laura Stacey scored for Montreal while Boston got goals from Taylor Girard, Hannah Brandt, and Amanda Pelkey who scored the game-winner two minutes into overtime.
” It was a long-awaited home opener”, Montreal head coach Kori Cheverie told me. ” Starting three games in a row on the road is not an easy task and I feel like we played an entire season already but what an amazing atmosphere and the fans were electric and I am so proud to be coaching this team and unfortunately the result wasn’t easy and I feel we deserved better.”
The opening ceremony was one of the best we have seen so far in the PWHL with the ceremonial faceoff featuring Quebec ex-hockey superstars with the likes of Caroline Ouellet and Kim St Pierre. The home team got off to a quick start and even if the first period didn’t feature any goals the fans yelling nonstop ” Let’s Go Montreal” really put the game in an amazing atmosphere.
” We knew it was going to be an emotional day and we didn’t want to get too high or too low and momentum is so important and trying to create it is something we value as a team.”
The second period is where things got going as less than 30 seconds into the period Erin Ambrose got the puck at the point and fired a quick wrist shot that fooled Boston goalkeeper Aerin Frankel to open the scoring and the crowd erupted for the first home goal in Montreal PWHL history.
The PA announcer hadn’t even announced the first goal and 30 seconds later Laura Stacey got a great feed from Tereza Vanisova and one-timed the puck into the back of the net to double Montreal’s lead.
” Honestly we had just scored”, Stacey said. ” There was a blur and Vani sent me the puck right in the sweet spot and I just tried to get it on net and I didn’t think it would go in but it was two minutes of craziness and it was nice to get that lead.”
The lead didn’t last long as three minutes with the visitors killing a penalty Taylor Girard the former Connecticut Whale stole the puck off a Montreal defender’s skate and went in on a breakaway and beat Anne Renee Desbiens to make it 2-1 and free Emily Brown from the penalty box thanks to the jailbreak rule.
” When you’re on the powerplay you never want to give up a goal against but with that new rule it’s exciting for the players and they try to take pride in trying to score shorthanded.”
90 seconds later the goals kept coming as Hannah Brandt was able to jam the puck past Desbiens into the back of the net with Boston pressing for the equalizer and in a span of 5-6 minutes we had witnessed four goals.
” It takes the wind out of your sails and at the end of the day were pros and we have to deal with that adversity and it continues every single game.”
The third period was tight with both teams getting great chances to score but the period belonged to the goaltenders on both sides of the rink making amazing saves and the game went into overtime and 20 seconds in Marie-Phillipe Poulin thought she scored when she managed to get a puck past Frankel but a challenge from Boston head coach Courtney Kessel and a lengthy review deemed the play no goal due to Stacey impeding Frankel with her stick.
” I saw a goal”, Poulin responded when I asked her what she saw from her vantage point on the play. ” I went to the net battling with Hilary Knight and the puck was there and I put it in but that’s part of the game.”
A couple of minutes later with the visitors gaining momentum Amanda Pelkey ended the game as she found herself all alone at the side of the net and got a solid feed from Gigi Marvin and beat Desbiens to stun the home crowd and seal the two points for her team.
It was surprising to see but despite the loss, the team got a standing ovation from the crowd who kept cheering even well after the game was over and Poulin was moved by the gesture.
” When you win the fans stand by you and when you lose to still have the fans in the stands still cheering it meant a lot.”
Montreal will be back in action next Tuesday when they host New York at Bell Place in Laval.
Featured Image ©️ Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL)