PREVIEW: PWHL Boston Takes on PWHL New York in Final Game Before International Break

Pivotal points are again on the line as PWHL Boston visits PWHL NEW York at their second home on Long Island for the first time tonight.

PREVIEW: PWHL Boston Takes on PWHL New York in Final Game Before International Break
Hannah Brandt celebrates her overtime winner against New York. Photo by Cassie Froio/The Ice Garden.

PWHL Boston visits Long Island for the first time tonight as they face off against last-place New York in their final game before the international break.

The Basics: Monday, March 25, 2024- Boston at New York- 7 p.m. EDT, UBS Arena, Elmont, NY (NESN, MSGSN2, Bally Sports North, PWHL Youtube Channel, GEM)

What to Expect

Chaos ensues in front of Abbey Levy. There are three New York players trying to tie up three Boston players. One of the pairs has run directly into Levy. The Boston players are in green, while the New York players are in white.
Chaos ensues in front of Abbey Levy. Photo by Cassie Froio/The Ice Garden.

These two have met three times this season, and all three were home games for Boston. In their first meeting on January 20, a brutal second-period start cost Boston the game. Then, on February 17, it was a hard-fought battle, but Boston’s lack of scoring punch handed them a 2-1 overtime loss. Finally, Boston played one of their most complete games of the season on March 10 and walked out of the Tsongas Center with a 2-1 overtime win despite New York goaltender Abbey Levy’s best efforts.

This game is a near must-win for Boston. They cannot afford to fall any further behind Ottawa if they hope to make playoffs. Boston sits five points back with a game in hand, which Boston is making up tonight. So, the gap isn’t quite as bad as it seems if they win this game in hand, particularly given they still have one head-to-head matchup remaining. Boston also must do whatever it can to win this game in regulation and get the three points to put them in the best position possible. 

Boston is coming off a stinger of a 2-1 loss to Toronto on Wednesday. After controlling the game for the first two periods and leading 1-0, they got into penalty trouble in the third and let Toronto take over and win. They’ve done a better job of starting games on time recently but continue to struggle with full 60-minute efforts. That said, over the past two weeks or so, Boston has played two of their most complete games of the season against the teams they’re fighting for a playoff spot. So, they appear to know how to turn it on when the points are at their most important, so look for them to be ready from puck drop again.

Meanwhile, New York is coming off a 3-0 loss to Ottawa on Wednesday. They have now lost seven straight games and haven’t won a game in regulation since January 20 over Boston. So, they may also show some desperation. They sit five points back of Boston and ten out of a playoff spot with a game in hand. While their playoff hopes seem as good as dead, it’s not technically over yet, and they’re at least going to want to end the losing streak. Plus, I NEVER underestimate how much a team may want to play spoiler for another’s playoff hopes, and it’s a safe bet New York realizes just how important this game is for Boston.

Schroeder makes a save on Tapani. Tapani's stick is raised for the shot follow through while Alex Carpenter defends. Meanwhile, Schroeder is on her knees squeeze her pads together for the save. Tapani is in green, while the New York players are in white.
Corinne Schroeder makes a save on Susanna Tapani. Photo by Michelle Jay/The Ice Garden.

In goal, expect Corinne Schroeder for New York. The goaltenders have been the only consistently good part of the team, and both give them a chance to win every night. What the team does with that chance has been a completely different story. Regardless, Levy started the last game, and neither goaltender was named to a World Championship roster, so it would be a surprise if it isn’t Schroeder. Schroeder continues to be scary good for New York, with a solid 2.25 GAA (sixth in the league) and sparkling 0.935 SV% (second in the league) despite her 2-3-1-5 record.

As for Boston, it continues to be a bit unpredictable, but my gut tells me it’ll be Aerin Frankel since Emma Söderberg started the last game. Head coach Courtney Kessel returned to a rotation recently after riding Frankel for a couple of weeks, and it’s worked well. Frankel is looking fresher again, while Söderberg continues her strong play despite her numbers. The rotation has seen both goaltenders entrusted with a pivotal game recently, with Söderberg getting the last one against New York and Frankel getting the nod against Ottawa on March 16. Plus, both are heading to the World Championships to represent the USA and Sweden respectively, so that won’t factor into the decision. So, while it’s hard to be sure, it makes sense that the rotation will continue tonight, which means it’ll be Frankel. She is 3-2-2-5 on the season, with a 2.01 GAA and 0.929 SV% (both fourth in the league).

Boston’s Key to the Game

Kaleigh Fratkin moments before taking a slap shot against New York. Her weight is on her left leg, which is out front, while her stick is flexed as it's about to hit the ice before following through on the puck. She is wearing a green home uniform.
Kaleigh Fratkin moments before taking a slap shot against New York. Photo by Cassie Froio/The Ice Garden.

Lots of high-quality shots. In all three games against New York this season, high-quality shots have played a pivotal role. In the two losses, Boston got plenty of shots, but few were high quality. In the win, Boston got both an absurd amount of shots and a ton of high-quality ones. They still only scored two goals, but that’s because Abbey Levy stood on her head. However, that’s something that needs to be expected when playing New York. Levy has been excellent when called upon, while Schroeder has been perhaps the best goaltender in the league. Having the second-best save percentage in the league while being on the worst team is absurd. So, Boston has got to be ready to repeat what they did on March 10 and pour lots of high-quality shots on goal if they want to walk out with a win.