PWHL playoff excitement picks up

By Darcie Hum

The first ound of PWHL playoffs absolutely delivered. Big plays, bigger saves, overtime, stingy defense, increased physicality…whew! (Granted, disappointing if the team you’re cheering for got eliminated, but sadly, someone has to lose..)

Although PWHL New York did not make the post-season, let’s keep encouraging New York forward and Grindstone Award ambassador Emma Woods in her fundraising goal!

Let’s roll back to mid-May when semifinals were in full swing. What could be expected in Game 2 of Boston versus Montreal? The visiting team won Game 1 in overtime, and expectations were the Montreal ladies would be fired up to tie the series in front of the home crowd: a raucous 10,000+ at Place Bell in Laval.

From this spectator’s perspective, the fans never stopped cheering and waving rally towels (at game’s end the voice was very much gone!) Laura Stacey had become a fan favourite early on in the season, and delivered quite the performance ranging from knocking over Amanda Pelkey and yelling at her, to prompting “Let’s go Stacey!” chants after generating yet another scoring chance.

Some questionable officiating drew the ire of the home fans, and the hostility towards the zebra jerseys was real, at times.

What no one likely had on their bingo cards was, not one, not two… but count ‘em, three overtime periods after regulation saw the teams tied at one-apiece.

The excitement grew to almost a fever pitch when Lexie Adzija drew a major penalty in the first overtime, and there was a feeling that perhaps this opportunity could be a difference-maker for Montréal. But this is playoffs… Boston defended well, getting bodies and sticks in the lanes. 

Disbelief and huge exhales by fans only increased after the end of each overtime period. By the time the third overtime loomed, everyone was probably wondering what the players had left in the tank. (*During a play stoppage and the ice crew came out, Ann-Renée Desbiens basically downs half a Gatorade in probably three or four gulps).

Unfortunately for the home team, Boston took their chances and put in the winning goal to go two up in the series.

Despite the late hour – closing in on midnight – most of the fans had remained and never stopped cheering. The ovation for the stunned and visibly fatigued Montréal players just before they stepped off the ice was monstrous; lots of love and appreciation definitely came through.

Unforgettable Saturday night – barely any voice left, getting to watch almost six periods of hockey…merci, Montréal.