Saturday, Oct. 15
Sonnet 4 Scotiabank 2
Adidas 4 Harvey’s 2
Sunday, Oct. 16
Scotiabank 5 adidas 0
Sonnet 2 Harvey’s 3
Scotiabank put their offensive power on display across two Saturday and Sunday games in Montreal. Five different players contributed to the seven goals scored. The group looked powerful together, and individual performances added deadly threats. In a rink-side interview following Scotiabank’s Sunday win, Cat Quirion noted the change the injection of Olympic players brought to the PWHPA this year. “The quality of the play has really been elevated,” she said. “Everything is faster; the calibre is higher.”
Ella Shelton was one of those Olympic players with an elevated weekend. She scored two for Scotiabank in their 5-0 win over adidas on Sunday ripping two shots from her station on the left side of the blue line that beat traffic and the goalie. Shelton was strong in her own end most of the weekend except for one hiccup in game one. With thirty seconds left in the game, an unguarded Erin Ambrose scored the game-winner for Sonnet while Shelton had her back to the shooter. The blip didn’t define her weekend. Shelton is a player to watch all season.
High-octane forwards like Kendall Coyne Schofield and Sarah Potomak rallied on Saturday to help the team put three past Ann-Renée Desbiens. The team looked explosive and practiced. The goals scored came because of great whole-team plays and individual initiative. Potomak’s effort tied the game for adidas, and Jill Saulnier’s cooperation with Coyne Schofield led to the game-winning goal in the second period.
Aerin Frankel made her professional hockey debut on Sunday in adidas’s 5-0 loss to Scotiabank. The highly anticipated rookie looked stronger than the scoreline showed. Three of the four goals she allowed came through heavy traffic and two came on the penalty kill. The five-foot-five goaltender appeared to struggle to find the puck through the traffic quick enough to track it. Everything is faster at the professional level, but Frankel will become accustomed to the pace with every period of play. In my opinion, she looked stronger at the end of the game than at the beginning. She adjusted her positioning throughout the game, so she wasn’t cheating as far toward puck carriers. Frankel moves and tracks the puck well. As the young goalie continues to take steps forward, she’ll quickly become one of the best goalies in the PWHPA.
The performance of Sonnet’s offence this weekend looked promising for the team’s season. Five different players scored as they outscored opponents 6-5 in regulation. The Sonnet goaltending also looked strong. Nicole Hensley was agile and poised in the first game, a 4-2 win over Scotiabank. In game two, Lindsay Browning dazzled in her PWHPA debut. The rookie from Cornell made sprawling saves to keep the game tight and force a shootout. She conceded twice in the shootout but cannot be blamed for the loss. I don’t think there is a goalie on the planet who could have stopped that Poulin shootout goal.
Alexa Vasko scored twice for the team, once in each game. She banged home scrappy goals from inside the paint to help lift Sonnet to their successful weekend. She scored the kind of goals that this team is designed to score. They grind and wear down their opponent smashing in anything around the net. Players like Vasco and Sam Cogan were unrelenting in their hustle. The work ethic alone makes this team a formidable threat.
Goaltending defined Harveys’ weekend. Desbiens was strong in game one behind a Harvey’s team, which put up a poor defensive performance. Two goals she allowed can be attributed to turnovers and defensive confusion. Following the loss, Desbiens noted this in a rink-side interview. “We need to take care of the puck better,” she said. We turned the puck over quite a bit at the blue line.” In the second game, the team’s defensive performance was improved but holding down the fort was a rock solid Genèvieve Lacasse. She gave Harvey’s the edge to beat Sonnet in the goaltending. Lacasse robbed opposing forwards, forcing overtime where she stood tall. She saved two of three in the shootout, which was enough for the wind.
There were a lot of great performances on this team. Marie-Philip Poulin had the highlights of Harveys’ weekend. In the game against adidas, she put her reflexes and awareness on display, collecting the puck, spinning, shooting without looking and scoring in the blink of an eye. On Sunday, she completely undressed Lindsay Browning with a shootout goal. Desbiens noted that having Poulin on your team is a sweet bonus.