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Anne Photograp News 2024

Their first play-off game on Thursday
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Their first play-off game on Thursday

It was a memorable first season for the Professional Women’s Hockey League.

PWHL Montreal set a new attendance record for women’s hockey last month – with more than 21,000 fans in the Bell Center for their matchup with Toronto.

Now they are preparing for the play-offs.

The team battles Boston on Thursday night at Laval’s Place Bell, creating a new sports rivalry between Montreal and Boston.

PWHL Montreal’s practice on May 8, 2024 at the Verdun Auditorium, one day before they take on Boston in the playoffs. (Credit: Pamela Pagano/CityNews)

“They are physical,” said PWHL Montreal captain Marie-Philip Poulin. “I think this is something we need to be aware of.”

“When you put a puck in,” she added. “They can’t let you pass by.”

CityNews attended the team’s training at the Verdun Auditorium on Wednesday as they all worked towards winning the Walter Cup.

Marie-Philip Poulin at the Verdun Auditorium on May 8, 2024. (Credit: Pamela Pagano/CityNews)

“That’s what we wanted,” Poulin said. “We wanted to clinch the play-off spot at home and that’s what we did.”

“I don’t know how many teams like Boston in any sport,” said PWHL Montreal head coach Kori Cheverie. “I don’t think they are very popular.”

“But you know, Court Kessel, the coach on the other side, we’re really good friends.”

“I obviously wish her and her team all the best,” she said. “But I wish better for our team, and she knows that too.”

PWHL Montreal’s head coach, Kori Cheverie, at the Verdun Auditorium on May 8, 2024. (Credit: Pamela Pagano/CityNews)

“To be able to take second place,” said PWHL Montreal forward Laura Stacey. “Achieving home ice advantage is something we have been fighting for all year.”

PWHL Toronto selected Minnesota as its opponent in the first round.

As the No. 1 seed, Toronto earned the right to select its opponent from the third and fourth seeds: Boston and Minnesota.

This left Montreal with Boston.

PWHL Montreal player Laura Stacey at the Verdun Auditorium on May 8, 2024. (Credit: Pamela Pagano, CityNews)

“I definitely grew up with the heated rivalry,” explains PWHL Montreal player Jillian Dempsey.

Dempsey played a lot of hockey in Boston, growing up in the Greater Boston area.

“It will definitely provide a competitive advantage,” she added.

Laura Stacey at the PWHL Montreal practice at the Verdun Auditorium on May 8, 2024. (Credit: Pamela Pagano/CityNews)

The postseason starts tonight for Toronto-Minnesota.

Each series will be a best-of-five.

“I think you approach every game the same way, whether it’s the playoffs, the regular season, the exhibition or whatever,” said PWHL Montreal goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens.

“I’m a sore loser, I hate losing,” she added with a laugh. “I will not change my preparation.”

PWHL Montreal player Madison Bizal during team practice at the Verdun Auditorium on May 8, 2024. (Credit: Pamela Pagano/CityNews)

“In a season you obviously have a few games where we lose,” Poulin said. “We don’t have time here.”

“It’s tomorrow,” she added. “I’m preparing to go right when the puck drops and go from there.”