23-24 PWHL Preview: Ottawa

Carla MacLeod's PWHL team is set to play fast and aggressive hockey.

23-24 PWHL Preview: Ottawa
PWHL Ottawa look to make their dent on the inaugural PWHL season | Photo by Simon Hopkins

Ottawa will hit the ice Jan. 2 in front of a record-setting crowd. How is the team led by Olympians Brianne Jenner and Emily Clark going to fair in its season against the five other PWHL Teams? I'm here to give you insight and my opinions on this tough Ottawa team.

Spoiler: I think they're going to be good.

Final roster

Forwards (13)
Adzija, Lexie (Drafted 11-65)
Clark, Emily (Signed FA)
Della Rovere, Kristin (Drafted 10-56) 
Garát-Gasparics, Fanni (Camp Invite) 
Gilmore, Becca (Camp Invite)
Grant-Mentis, Mikyla (Camp Invite) 
Hughes, Gabrielle (Drafted 4-20)
Jenner, Brianne (Signed FA)
Mrázová, Kateřina (Drafted 8-44)
Scamurra, Hayley (Drafted 5-29)
Shiga, Akane (Camp Invite) 
Snodgrass, Natalie (Camp Invite) 
Watts, Daryl (Drafted 6-32)

Defenders (7)
Bell, Ashton (Drafted 2-8)
Boulier, Amanda (Drafted 13-77)
Boyd, Zoe (Drafted 9-53)
Harmon, Savannah (Drafted 1-5)
Howran, Victoria (Camp Invite) 
Roese, Jincy (Drafted 3-17)
Tejralová, Aneta (Drafted 7-41)

Goaltenders (3)
Abstreiter, Sandra (Drafted 12-68)
Maschmeyer, Emerance (Signed FA)
McQuigge, Rachel (Camp Invite)

Who isn't here?

Taylor Davison (Camp Invite)
Malia Schneider (Camp Invite)
Audrey-Anne Veillette (Drafted 15-89)
Liliane Perreault (Camp Invite) 
Rosalie Demers (Camp Invite)
Samantha Ridgewell (Camp Invite)

Greatest Strength

Depth and mobility: I think Ottawa is going to ice 18 skaters who can all move themselves and the puck extremely well. Ottawa's best scoring chances, in my opinion, will come on the rush. All of their forwards are fast, with players like Akane Shiga able to dance around the opposition.

Ottawa's offensively-minded defenders will be effective in transition. They can feed those speedy forwards with saucer passes or jump into the rush themselves. Ottawa is going to be an exhausting night on the schedule every time they're on the schedule. I think this relentless skating and pressure is going to reward them.

(Photo via PWHL)

Big Questions

Who backs up Maschmeyer?

Ottawa's management has praised the talents of both Sandra Abstreiter and Rachel McQuigge and hasn't listed one as the clear backup over the other. It's a tricky question because both have their strengths. Abstreiter is probably more athletic, and the better goalie in the eyes of the team, but McQuigge has more professional experience, especially in North America.

I think Maschmeyer will play 75 percent of the team's games this year, but the other quarter might not be just one goalie. I think they'll each play 2-3 games, but on opening night, I'm expecting to see the draftee, Abstreiter, on the bench.

Who leads the team in goals?

The formation of a new league like this makes predicting goal totals very difficult. Mikyla Grant-Mentis was a scoring machine in the PHF, but will that translate to this league? Akane Shiga is one of the best shooters I've ever seen, but she has never played pro hockey in North America. Brianne Jenner is also one of the greatest to ever play for Team Canada, but will scoring be her primary role on this team, or will Emily Clark bang in most of the goals?

In my opinion, Savannah Harmon will be one of the team leaders in points as a leader and distributor from the blue line. I think one of the wingers on the top line, possibly Clark, Scamurra, or Hughes, will lead the team in goals.

(Photo via PWHL)

Rookie to Watch

There are a lot of very exciting young players to watch on this team. The most exciting in my eyes will be Akane Shiga. She is a sensation of the Japanese women's hockey team with a quick release, unlike other players in the game. And her skating is second to none, positioning herself in the perfect place every time.

MVP Prediction

Maschmeyer: I don't think she has a choice: Maschmeyer has to be great. Don't get me wrong, Ottawa has a great team that has the size and skill to play good structured defence. But I think this roster is designed to play with a shoot-first mentality. Ottawa defenders will frequently jump to make offensive plays, and when defending, Ottawa players will charge the puck holder. The result of this style of play is inevitable rush chances against. I think Maschmeyer will be forced to bail out her team.

Standings Projection

A slow climb to 3rd: I think Ottawa will win a lot of games in the third period. They'll wear down their opposition and crash the net until something breaks, and they can bang in a goal. Much like their games, I think their season will similarly see success with time. In a short season, I think they'll slowly crawl toward the top of the table. At the same time, I think they're in an excellent position to carry strong momentum into the postseason and next year.


Jan.2 vs Montreal
Jan. 8 at Boston
Jan. 13 at Toronto
Jan. 17 vs Minnesota
Jan. 23 vs Toronto
Jan. 24 vs Boston
Jan. 27 at Montreal
Feb. 4 vs New York
Feb. 14 at Minnesota
Feb. 17 vs Minnesota
Feb. 21 at Boston
Feb. 24 at Montreal
Feb. 28 vs New York
March 2 vs Toronto
March 5 at Minnesota
March 10 at Montreal
March 16 at Boston
March 20 at New York
March 23 vs Toronto
April 20 vs Minnesota
April 24 vs Boston
April 27 vs Montreal
April 30 at New York
May 5 at Toronto