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Hughes nets winner as Ottawa beats New York 4-2 in PWHL

OTTAWA — Gabbie Hughes’ game winning goal Wednesday night in a 4-2 victory over New York in Professional Women’s Hockey League action gave coach Carla MacLeod plenty to boast about.

Getting the win was all the more special for Ottawa’s head coach with her parents, Gary and Edna, here visiting from Calgary, Alta., as well as her former coach Wally Kozak, who’s also been a mentor of late.

Ottawa (4-0-4-5) has struggled of late having lost seven of its last eight and to finally get back in the win column was rewarding, said MacLeod.

“Oh, we needed it,” said MacLeod. “You know we needed that not only for us, but, of course, our fans and everyone here. Nothing’s ever easy and that’s OK in this world. Like, it doesn’t have to be easy and it was certainly well earned tonight.”

Savannah Harmon, Fanni Garat-Gasparics and Lexie Adzija also scored for Ottawa (3-0-4-5). Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 24 shots.

Chloe Aurard and Jaime Bourbonnais scored for New York (2-4-2-5), while Abigail Levy made 26 saves.

With the win, Ottawa moved into fifth place in the standings and are just two points back of Boston for the fourth and final playoff spot.

“I think the whole group is just feeling ecstatic right now,” admitted Hughes. “I think we deserved that win. We deserve a couple other ones that didn’t go our way and we put this one away today, so it feels really good.”

Ottawa opened the scoring 2:30 into the first period, but it took a moment for the team to realize Harmon had scored. It initially looked like Levy had made the save and the play was stopped, but then Ottawa began to celebrate and upon review it was deemed the puck had crossed the goal line.

New York was outshot 10-5 in the opening period and coach Howie Draper admitted the slow starts have been problematic.

“Really, the problem was our first period.” Said Draper. “I don’t feel we came out as strong as we needed to in order to compete against a good team like that.”

Garat-Gasparics scored a jailbreak goal at 10:12 of the second picking up her own rebound for her first point of the season to give Ottawa a 2-0 lead.

The Hungarian native said it was great to see a few flags being waved in the crowd and admitted feeling relieved to finally get on the scoresheet.

“I was mentally prepared, I wanted to score a goal so bad,” said Garat-Gasparics. “I worked for it a lot and I felt like my monkey is now off of my back, like how North American people say. That’s what I felt like 100 per cent.”

The two-goal lead was short lived.

New York cut the lead in half after Zoe Boyd’s stick broke on a clearing attempt giving Aurard a clear shot for her first of the season.

Abby Roque was assessed a game misconduct as a result of a checking from behind penalty, but Ottawa was unable to capitalize on the five-minute player advantage.

Trailing 2-1 Bourbonnais scored the equalizer for New York on the power play at 9:28 of the third. With an assist on the play Alex Carpenter, who leads the league in scoring, extended her point streak (5G, 3A) to six games.

Ottawa has struggled to close out games this year, but MacLeod and Hughes both agreed there was no sense of déjà vu from the team. The last time these two teams met Ottawa coughed up a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 in overtime.

“When they made that tying goal, like I said before, I think everyone on the bench knew we were going to take this game, we’re going to take control and we’re going to get this win today,” said Hughes. “And that’s what we did.”

Hughes scored what would prove to be the winner off her backhand from in close sending the 6,889 at TD Place to their feet and Adzija sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the dying seconds of the game.

NOTES

Coming into the game Ottawa and New York had the most lethal powerplays in the PWHL and have combined to score 16 goals with the advantage. Ottawa has nine power play goals for a 24.3% success rate, compared to New York’s seven power play goals and 19.4% efficiency.

UP NEXT

Ottawa takes on Toronto Saturday, March 2.

New York hosts Minnesota Sunday, March 3.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2024.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press