This was another night of firsts as PWHL Montreal and Toronto faced off at Verdun Auditorium on Saturday January 20 2024. A game that required a shootout for the first time in the history of the young league. With Montreal trailing late in the third period, Marie-Philip Poulin scored 18 seconds left, tying the game and forcing overtime and a shootout. The game was decided in Toronto’s favor with a goal in the 6th round by Lauriane Rougeau awarding them the 4-3 win.
With 3 232 in attendance Montreal’s offensive pressure led to a goal by Sarah Lefort – 11:21, her first of the season, scoring off a goalie pad rebound. Toronto responded with a flurry of shot attempts and multiple chances in front of the net. Ann-Renée Desbiens was dialed in making some incredible stops. Facing a total of 14 shots in the period, four of which came at the tail end of the period: a left pad save, followed by another one, then a blocker redirection, finally sliding and stretching out for another pad save! The fans were loving it, chanting her name as she defended the 1-0 Montreal lead.
The second period started with a monster breakaway opportunity by Toronto. This offensive momentum led to a Toronto goal (Jocelyne Larocque – 3:01) tying the game 1-1.
Marie-Philip Poulin scored a goal at 8:20 giving Montreal back the lead.
Montreal forward Laura Stacey got everyone standing in anticipation when she timed a line change perfectly and received a pass giving her a breakaway attempt. She would not score on the drive.
The third period had another early goal by Toronto (Maggie Connors – 2:32) tying the game 2-2 as both fans and goalie Desbiens watched the replay screen to see how the puck went in. Desbiens would continue to have a busy period, taking a shot off what appeared to be the facemask, followed by a quick blocker save and covering up the puck in the blue paint.
A massive hit along the edge of the boards on a Toronto player attracted everyone’s attention while play continued leading to a Toronto goal ( Natalie Spooner – 18:36). With a late goal giving Toronto their first lead of the game, time was running out. It would be none other than captain Marie-Philip Poulin taking and protecting the puck from the blue line all the way to the net and scoring a goal that absolutely ignited the crowd. Is there a decibel meter in the Verdun auditorium? Because they should install one, the place exploded with cheers! Montreal had come back to tie the game 3-3!
Overtime was not enough to decide a winner and for the first time in the Professional Women’s Hockey League there would be shootouts. For context this is how shootouts works in the PWHL:
“The PWHL’s shootout format gives each team five shots unless the outcome is determined earlier. Rules permit a player to take any number of shots and as often as the team chooses.”
Toronto’s Lauriane Rougeau would score the winning goal in the 6th round as unfortunately Laura Stacey was unable to force a 7th round.
PHWL Montreal remain winless in Verdun
Next game: MONTREAL vs OTTAWA Saturday January 27th 2024 – 3:30pm at Place Bell
Next Verdun Game: MONTREAL vs OTTAWA Saturday February 24th 2024 at 2:30pm
A resident of Ville-Émard, Carlo has always been interested in arts and media. As a hybrid hobbyist/professional he has worked with a variety of media formats, collaborating with both creatives and institutions. Academically, he has a bachelors from Concordia University in Urban Planning and a Minor in Film Animation.
The picture at the top of this article was taken by Carlo Primerano at the game on January 20th, 2024.