PWHL RECAP: Boston Completes Sweep of Montréal to Advance to Walter Cup Finals

Susanna Tapani's overtime winner punched PWHL Boston's ticket to the Walter Cup Finals.

PWHL RECAP: Boston Completes Sweep of Montréal to Advance to Walter Cup Finals
PWHL Boston forward Susanna Tapani scores the game-winning goal in overtime. Photo by Michelle Jay/The Ice Garden.

Susanna Tapani was the overtime hero again last night after finishing an Alina Müller chance barely a minute into overtime. The goal completed the series sweep for Boston over Montréal and punched the first-ever ticket to the Walter Cup championship.

The effects of Game 2’s triple overtime were apparent at the beginning of this one. Neither team had their skating legs, although Montréal had a much better start than Boston offensively. Luckily for Boston, Frankel continued her ridiculous run and made some phenomenal saves to keep the game scoreless.

However, later in the period, Boston made the fatal mistake of leaving Marie-Philip Poulin alone in front of the net. Newly appointed top-liner Mikyla Grant-Mentis fed her the puck from behind the net, and Poulin made no mistake. 

Frankel’s best save of the period came with about 40 seconds remaining, as she got her toe on a Poulin shot to keep Boston’s deficit at one. So, through 20 minutes, Montréal led 1-0 while outshooting Boston 18-4. 

Both teams got special teams opportunities in the first half of the second. Boston headed to the penalty kill first when Kaleigh Fratkin went off for hooking, and although Montréal landed three shots, Boston killed it off. Boston then got great chances on their power play a few minutes later, but they couldn’t find the equalizer.

Boston then got another penalty, and this time, Montréal made them pay. Maureen Murphy masterfully redirected an Erin Ambrose shot out front to make it 2-0 Montréal at 13:35. Poulin added an assist on the goal.

The second period wound down with Boston still struggling to get high-quality chances and trailing 2-0 on the scoreboard and 25-11 in shots. 

A few minutes into the third, Susanna Tapani went down hard after getting hit and stayed there for a bit. She was attended to by two trainers before getting up and skating off unaided. She returned to the ice only a few shifts later, and after the game, she told the media she got the wind knocked out of her by an elbow to the stomach.

Not long after, the crowd thought Jamie Lee Rattray had buried one on a delayed penalty call. However, Jillian Dempsey managed to make the save of her game with her stick to keep Boston off the board. So, instead, Boston headed to the power play and Mariah Keopple headed to the box for hooking.

Boston didn’t bury one on the power play, but not even two minutes later, Sophie Shirley brought the crowd to their feet by shoveling home an Amanda Pelkey feed to bring Boston back within one. 

Montréal got their best chance of the period around 13 minutes in when Mélodie Daoust was sprung on a breakaway about 13. However, she couldn’t quite deke out Frankel and instead sent it just wide of the post.

With under five minutes remaining, Alina Müller took a boarding penalty that theoretically should have taken a dent out of Boston’s hopes for a game-tying goal. Instead, Amanda Pelkey got a great feed from Hannah Brandt and went on a breakaway. She finished the chance to jailbreak Müller and tie the game for Boston with 3:43 remaining.

“I think I got kind of lucky on the timing,” said Pelkey. “I don’t know who I was changing for, but it was kind of a forecheck situation and the puck went in our zone. Then I changed for someone and I noticed that their 2 “D” didn’t really notice that I was out in the neutral zone and Hannah [Brandt] being the player that she is always going to find the players that are open, so when that puck was coming to me quite honestly I just didn’t want to go offsides. So I had to slow down a little bit, and then I just tried to get a quick shot off.

In an unprecedented turn of events, the game headed to overtime. It was a much better period for Boston, although they still trailed 34-22 in shots. 

Luckily for fans, players, and media alike, this overtime did not last long. Müller flew into the Montréal zone and made a silky move to get around the defender before firing a hard, purposeful shot on goal. Tapani supported Müller the whole play and was there to bury the rebound for the win just 1:02 into the extra frame.

Overall, this was not Boston’s strongest outing of the series. The initial push from Montréal was expected given the 2-0 series deficit, but the Boston skaters were not ready to match it and were lucky Frankel continued her outstanding run. However, as head coach Courtney Kessel said to media after the game, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” and Boston rallied hard in the third period and overtime to complete the most closely contests series sweep in recent professional hockey memory. 

Kessel later shared more thoughts about her team’s mindset going into the game and their performance.

“We knew they were going to come in hot,” said Kessel. “Montréal’s never going to give up, and you read those articles, Kori’s telling us that we’re lucky…and we celebrated too hard in the third overtime goal, so that’s motivation for her team, and that’s understandable. So, you know they’re coming in for blood. I think it was like let’s manage the first period…and we got out of that period with one goal thanks to our great goalie Frankel, and then from there we built momentum and I thought in the third period we outplayed them, we hemmed them in, and we came back.”