2024 PWHL New York Season Recap: The Plan Didn’t Come Together

Taking a look back at PWHL New York's inaugural season

2024 PWHL New York Season Recap: The Plan Didn’t Come Together
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay

End of the season means we get to take a walk down memory lane. Personally, I find it fascinating looking back at how it all began to where we are now. Moving through the season we often lose perspective of where we started because we’re swept up in the moment, which is never a bad thing. Be sure to check out The Ice Garden’s other season recaps to relive the season through the eyes of all six teams. So without further ado let’s get to how the season unfolded and who were the notable players along the way.

The Season

Looking back to the start of the season it’s surreal how quickly it all came together and how little time teams had to put together a roster. The six PWHL General Manager’s were announced on September 1st, 2023 and while we can assume they were hired before that it was only by a few a days at most. So with the 2023 PWHL draft taking place September 18th, 2023, General Managers were given somewhere between two-to-three weeks to put together a staff and figure out how to construct a team. For comparison’s sake when the NHL expanded to Seattle and Las Vegas those franchises were given over a year to prepare. With the talent pool available and teams having to do a snake draft, putting together rosters this season was essentially making +20 bets at the roulette table and hoping they hit.

In the case of New York they absolutely hit on a good handful of players: Ella Shelton, Corinne Schroeder, and Alex Carpenter. They didn’t have enough bets hit or hit those bets in a big enough way which is why New York ended up with a league worst record of 5W-4OTW-12L-3OTL and the only team out of the playoff race early enough to earn Gold Plan points. With the new rules in place and players trying to find chemistry with each other so quickly, no one knew what was going to happen. You can play as much as you want but there’s no way you’re guessing Natalie Spooner, a little over a year after giving birth, was going to crush the PWHL in points or goals.

It started out so well for New York too. They built a roster that looked tough and fast, deadly on the rush. They got off to a big start with a 4-0 in Toronto on opening day. After that though the inconsistencies in their game started to creep in and New York was suddenly losing a lot more. After a stretch where they lost 10 out of 11 games picking up a possible five out of 33 points, the writing was on the wall and it was clear that New York would need a miracle to get in the postseason. The miracle didn’t come and New York is now picking first overall in the 2024 Draft.

Team MVP – Ella Shelton

There are two players on this team who should be up for an award and only one of whom should win it: Ella Shelton. The blueliner who scored the PWHL’s first-sxever goal didn’t see the team success she was looking for but boy did she ever have individual success. She finished second on the team in points (21) but finished first in primary points (18). In fact her primary points production had her finish fourth in the entire PWHL ahead of notable players such as Daryl Watts, Marie-Philip Poulin, and Laura Stacey.

Any concerns about Shelton being a powerplay merchant go out the window when you see that she also finished tied for fourth in even-strength primary points (10) in the entire PWHL. Her production was on another level that very few could match at any position. I know plus/minus is one of the least favourite stats of those in hockey and I agree, I find it to be unhelpful usually. Where it is helpful is looking at context within a team. Shelton was a minus six which looks not great. However, there are nine players in front of her which is important to note as Shelton was the biggest minute muncher on the team (26.49 ATOI/GP) and still didn’t rack up goals against like everyone else on her team. I think we can safely say she wasn’t the issue at either end of the ice.

Top Rookie – Brooke Hobson

Honestly, it was not a great year for rookies in New York, and there were not a lot of rookies to pick from. Feels like cheating to pick a player who was recently up for SDHL Defender of the Year but she’s considered a rookie by PWHL standards so I’m going with Brooke Hobson here. She played a top four role for New York and tied with Ella Shelton in plus/minus which isn’t a bad thing. Hobson didn’t get the offensive opportunities that Shelton and Jaime Bourbonnais got because those are the two most offensively talented blueliners on the team. Despite that she still finished with a primary points/60 (0.51) above Savannah Harmon, Jincy Roese, and Kali Flanagan. There’s a big class of blueliners coming in but I think Hobson has made a good case for herself to keep a regular line-up spot somewhere in the PWHL.

Still Under Contract

Abby Roque (F)
Alex Carpenter (F)
Jessie Eldridge (F)
Chloe Aurard (F)
Ella Shelton (D)
Jaime Bourbonnais (D)
Micah Zandee-Hart (D)

If you’re looking at this list and noticing a 5’11-sized hole, your eyes are working just fine! Corinne Schroeder remains unsigned, though considering the goalie situation around the PWHL it’s hard to imagine her going anywhere else. Jade Downie-Landry and her eight goals finished seventh in the PWHL in goals/60 (1.43) so you’d imagine she’s going to be a priority to bring back too. Otherwise there’s a lot of one-year contracts on the team and this is a team that finished last in the PWHL. Don’t be surprised if you see some serious change to the roster and maybe even a player with years left leaving the roster too.

Biggest Surprise – Jade Downie-Landry

Looking back at JDL’s career it’s bee n a respectable one. She was fine for McGill University until her final year where she had 14 goals in 15 games. Then she joined the recent expansion Montréal Force, potting 10 goals in 24 games good enough for ninth in the PHF for goals. Joining the PWHL and ending up in a third line role you’d expect her numbers to falter. When it comes to hockey though there are natural goal scorers and everyone else. JDL is a natural goal scorer who despite ending up in a third line role she finished ninth in PWHL goals (8) and seventh in goals/60 (1.43). Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised to see her talent excel but when you’ve been bumped for your usual first line to a third line role to keep that consistency is worthy of applause.