PWHL RECAP: Emily Brown's First Goal Helps Boston Secure Crucial Win

Boston kicked off the regular season home stretch with a huge win over Toronto last night.

PWHL RECAP: Emily Brown's First Goal Helps Boston Secure Crucial Win
Emily Brown celebrates her first PWHL goal at the bench with her teammates. Photo by Michael Riley/PWHL Boston.

After over three weeks between games, PWHL Boston came out ready to fight for their season and secured a huge regulation win last night, downing league-leading Toronto 2-1. Boston’s regulation win also prevented Toronto from clinching the first playoff spot, and they remain one point away.

After the game, Boston head coach Courtney Kessel was asked about whether her team viewed this as a playoff game tonight, and spoke about their mentality going in.

“A little bit, yeah, I think it was like let’s take this one game at a time,” said Kessel. “As a team, we assess what success is and I think, at some point in your season, you’re scared to lose, and I think we were playing like that a little bit and we were losing because you can’t play scared to lose. So, the mentality tonight was for 60 minutes, we just play to win.”

Boston came out flying to start the game. They held Toronto to just one shot on goal until nearly halfway through while managing five of their own. However, Toronto did a good job of boxing them out of the slot, so most of the shots didn’t feel dangerous.

Still, Boston’s pressure was rewarded with the game’s first power play, as Allie Munroe headed off for tripping at 11:32. Boston managed two shots on it but gave up the best chance to Toronto. A turnover in their defensive zone led to the league’s leading goal-scorer, Natalie Spooner, getting two grade-A chances on Aerin Frankel, who made equally great saves.

Toronto picked it up over the second half, although Boston still managed some chances of their own. However, the game remained scoreless through 20, with Boston holding a slight 9-7 shot advantage.

Boston came out hard again in the second. They didn’t get a lot of shots but continued to do a good job of possessing the puck. They were rewarded with another power play about five minutes in when Renata Fast was called for interference. While they didn’t allow any shorthanded chances, Boston's power play woes continued and they only managed one shot from above the circles.

Once Toronto landed their first shot on goal about nine minutes in, they got several grade-A chances over the next few minutes. Luckily for Boston, Frankel was ready to make more big saves.

After surviving the Toronto push, Boston finally gave the 4,084 fans in attendance something to cheer about. Susanna Tapani fed Alina Müller in the slot area, who then sent it to Emily Brown. Brown tried to fire a heavy shot on goal, but it was blocked by Fast. However, she corralled the puck and got a backhander through traffic and past Kristen Campbell to give her team the lead at 14:28. It was Brown’s first PWHL goal.

“Well, it would’ve been cool if that first shot went in, [but] it got blocked and I did a little backhander at the net,” said Brown. “We just had great possession that whole shift. Obviously, it feels really good to get that first goal out of the way. I take a lot of pride in my defensive game, so it’s not necessarily a monkey off the back, but my mom did text me before the game saying ‘shoot the puck’ and so I got another text after the game saying ‘told you so’ and that’s ok. But yeah, it definitely feels good to get a goal for our team like that.”

A few minutes later, Tapani won the faceoff and sent it up to Jess Healey at the point before crashing the net. Healey fired a purposeful shot on goal, which Tapani masterfully redirected past Campbell to double the Boston lead.

“I think I won the faceoff and it was a very nice shot from the blueline and I just tried to tip it in,” said Tapani. “I’ve been trying to do that for many times this season, but I’m glad that it went in, finally.”

Boston headed back to the locker room leading 2-0 while holding a narrow 16-15 shot advantage.

The teams traded chances for a while in the third, with Toronto having a bit more jump as they looked to get on the board. They finally broke through just over nine minutes in, as Fast snuck a shot between Frankel and her post to bring her team back with one.

After the goal, Boston spent most of their time defending. However, they managed to keep Toronto mostly to the perimeter and suppress shots, so while not ideal, it didn’t feel overly dangerous.

Toronto got their first power play at 17:15 when Amanda Pelkey took a boarding penalty. Boston continued to do a good job getting in the way of shots, even after Toronto made it a 6v4 by pulling Campbell with just over a minute left. Fans were on their feet and as loud as they’ve been all year for the final minute, especially once Boston secured the win and a kerfuffle broke out after the final buzzer. 

Overall, it was a complete game for Boston. There were ebbs and flows, but even when Toronto surged, Boston did a reasonable job keeping the danger to a minimum. It was exactly the type of game they needed, and it could go a long way towards helping them get back into playoff position.

Kessel was pleased with her team’s performance, and mentioned how it was nice to finally get some puck luck.

“I thought it was a great game,” said Kessel. “I think our first game back together, we practiced once as a full group yesterday, which was obviously nice to get us back together, but I thought our transition was great, our forechecking was great, and hey we scored two crappy goals but we’ve been waiting for those all year.”

Jamie Lee Rattray also shared how happy she was with their effort with the media postgame.

“It was fun,” said Rattray. “It was a pretty hard-fought game. I think our team played with a lot of urgency. We have a big run of games here and I’m really proud of how everyone chipped in and played the right way. I think we really showed each other that when we play that way, we can win some big games.”