Ottawa's Adzija On Target Again, While Montreal Surges To Top Of Standings In PWHL | CBC Sports

Ottawa forward Lexie Adzija scored her third goal in as many games from the same spot she scored her first: the rough area in front of the net.

That’s where the 11th-round draft pick, who played at Quinnipiac University last year, has done her best work this season for Ottawa. She leads the team with five points in five games.

“She’s fierce and she’s a heck of a player,” Ottawa head coach Carla MacLeod told the Canadian Press after Wednesday’s game, a 3-2 loss to Boston.

“She’s got a real knack around the net and she’s willing to go to the net and she’s a tough gal to move once she’s there.”

At Ottawa’s first on-ice session in training camp in November, Adzija stayed on the ice long after everyone else had left, shooting puck after puck.

WATCH | Hockey North breaks down latest PWHL action:

‘Did you see that game?’, Toronto defeats Montréal in 1st-ever PWHL shootoutHost Rob Pizzo is joined by PWHL analyst Saroya Tinker for her reactions to the biggest moments around the PWHL this week.

She started the season on the team’s fourth line, but that work ethic has pushed her higher in Ottawa’s lineup. Adzija was slotted on a skilled-but-gritty second line with Hayley Scamurra and captain Brianne Jenner on Wednesday.

Adzija has been one of the standouts of the PWHL season’s first month, which has featured record-breaking crowds, highlight-reel goals and fast, physical play.

Ottawa continues its season on Saturday with its first trip to Montreal.

You can watch Montreal host Ottawa at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on CBC Gem,, the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices, and CBC TV. The full schedule of PWHL games airing on CBC Sports this season is available here.

Another standout has been Boston forward Alina Müller, who got her first PWHL goal on Wednesday in Ottawa.

The rookie from Switzerland leads the league in points per game heading into the weekend, after being named the PWHL’s third star of the week. 

In addition to the goal Müller scored on Wednesday, she’s assisted on six of Boston’s other 11 goals this season. She’s driving her team’s offence, especially with captain Hilary Knight still looking for her first PWHL point.

Montreal takes over 1st placeMontreal will hit the one-third mark of its season on Saturday, and it’s no surprise that captain Marie-Philip Poulin leads the team in goal scoring, after being the PWHL’s first star two weeks in a row.

Poulin took the game into her hands in last Saturday’s shootout loss to Toronto. With less than 30 seconds remaining, she picked up the puck on the boards in the neutral zone. She carried the puck past five Toronto players before beating goalie Kristen Campbell.

Montreal now leads Minnesota by one point, but Minnesota has a game in hand.

Two areas of concern for Montreal: the number of shots the team is allowing (86 in the last two games alone) and the performance on the power play, where Montreal has only scored in one of 20 opportunities.

Montreal head coach Kori Cheverie said she was happy with her team’s performance on Wednesday.

WATCH | Vanišová’s 3rd-period goal gives PWHL Montreal win over Minnesota:

Vanišová’s 3rd period marker gives PWHL Montreal victory over MinnesotaCzech Republic born Tereza Vanišová’s first career PWHL goal proved to be the winner as Montreal defeated Minnesota 2-1 Wednesday night in St. Paul, MN.

“I don’t care about the shot volume at all,” Cheverie said after the game.

“Defence is part of the game, just like offence is. Every night as of late feels like a game seven and it’s hard to get three points in this league.”

Downie-Landry’s hat trick in BostonWith two goals already in a game against Boston last weekend, New York forward Jade Downie-Landry felt a bit nervous with the puck on her stick as the clock ticked down. Boston’s net was empty, but she wasn’t thinking about a hat trick.

Downie-Landry, who’s embraced a defensive role on New York, took extra time to skate the puck past the red line before shooting at the empty net. The puck went in and New York won 4-1, thanks to Downie-Landry’s three goals and a solid performance from goaltender Corinne Schroeder.

“For me, there was more of a priority to just do the right thing in that moment, which was getting the puck deep without icing it,” Downie-Landry told CBC Sports in an interview this week.

“I really didn’t overthink the possibility of getting a hat trick in that game, but I think just kind of one thing led to the next and something good happened.”

PWHL New York forward Jade Downie-Landry got her first PWHL hat trick against Boston, making her the league’s second-star of the week. Her team defeated Boston 4-1. (Kelly Hagenson/PWHL)She said the best part was how excited her teammates were for her after the game. It’s the team’s ability to come together so quickly that Downie-Landry believes has been an asset to New York over six games.

“They are all incredible hockey players as well, but I think above all, they’re really good people and good humans,” she said.

“I think that has a lot to do with the chemistry that we have in the locker room, and at the end of the day, I think the chemistry that we have together is what speaks volumes on the ice.”

The team is in a three-way tie with Boston and Ottawa for third place, though the latter two teams have a game in hand. New York, which boasts the league’s leading point-getter in Alex Carpenter, takes on Toronto on Friday night.

League shifting to long-term planningMontreal and Toronto will face off at Scotiabank Arena, home to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, on Feb. 16, the league announced on Thursday. They’re calling it the “Battle on Bay Street.”

Toronto has already sold out all its home games at Mattamy Athletic Centre, which seats about 2,500, and this game will give more fans in Toronto a chance to see PWHL action.

Speaking to reporters before Montreal’s sold out home opener on Jan. 13, the PWHL’s Jayna Hefford said they thought the Verdun Auditorium in Montreal, which can seat around 3,500 people, was the league’s sweet spot for venue size.

But now it looks like Verdun Auditorium and Mattamy Athletic Centre are too small. Montreal is also playing games at the 10,000-seat Place Bell. With more time to plan for next season, the PWHL has more time to find venues that match demand.

A record-breaking crowd of more than 13,000 attended PWHL Minnesota’s home opener earlier this month at Xcel Energy Center. (Kelly Hagenson/PWHL)Other items on the to-do list for next season? Planning the next draft. 

Hefford, who is the PWHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations, said the league is looking at something close to an eight-round draft. The inaugural draft in September had 15 rounds as teams filled out their first rosters.

That draft had no minimum age and it doesn’t sound like the league will add one. But don’t expect to see a pipeline of players going straight from high school to the PWHL.

The traditional pathway is for female players to go to college first, and Hefford doesn’t want to see the PWHL interfere with any player’s ability to get an education.

“We also know that there could be occasional circumstances where that’s not the right choice for a player,” Hefford added.

With another draft later this year, and only so many roster spots on six teams, Hefford said both expansion and development teams are “on the radar.” The first priority was to get the PWHL up and running. Now, they can shift to long-term planning.

“We don’t want to expand too quickly,” Hefford told reporters before the Montreal home opener.

“We want to make sure that we do it right, we do it smart, we keep the depth of talent really high. But we also know that each year that goes by, we have more and more players adding to that depth pool, and that teams are going to have the rights to more and more players that they need to have playing and developing.”

WATCH | PWHL players answer who the most underrated player in the league is:

PWHL players answer who the most underrated player in the league isCBC Sports polled PWHL players to find out who they think is the most underrated player ahead of the inaugural season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *