PWHL MVPs — Inaugural season early insights

The IX: Hockey Friday with The Ice Garden, Jan. 26, 2024

Hi folks! My name is Alyssa Turner from the Ice Garden. We are only 25 days into the inaugural PWHL season but there’s lots to discuss. We all knew the talent in this league would be unlike anything we’ve seen before in professional women’s hockey but I really don’t know if any of us expected the talent to be as good as it truly has been. Each game is anyone’s to win, the goals have been fantastic, the goaltending has been unreal and the physicality is at an all-time high. With about a month of the season in the books, I spent some time this week selecting an MVP candidate from each team.

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Montreal — Marie Philip Poulin
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Marie-Philip Poulin is the most valuable player for her team. Captain Clutch has very quickly taken over as the league’s leader in goals and is one back of the league lead in points. Poulin has been named the league’s first star of the week for two weeks straight now and has proved night in and night out that she is the greatest player this game might ever see.

New York — Ella Shelton
There’s been a lot to love with New York’s blue line this season so far and Ella Shelton plays a massive role in that. She has been the most consistent two-way defender across the league and has been huge towards New York’s success early on. In her six games played Shelton has two goals scored and five assists to her name. It didn’t take long for Ella Shelton to put the hockey world on notice either as she became the first goal scorer in league history during New York’s tilt vs. Toronto on Jan. 1.

Ella Shelton (17) of PWHL New York skates off the ice towards teammates during a New York vs Toronto match Jan. 1, 2024 Photo by: Alex D’Addese/PWHL

Boston — Alina Müller
Is there a single PWHL draft pick that looks better right now than Boston selecting Alina Müller third overall? The Swiss superstar has been a household hockey name dating back to when she suited up in her first Olympic Games where she won bronze at just age 15. Now 25 years old and playing in her first pro season, she has established herself as one of the greatest playmakers on the planet. In her five games played she has six assists (with five of them being primary assists) and scored her first pro goal earlier this week. There might not be a player in the PWHL right now who has a higher ceiling than Alina Müller does and, just five games into her pro career, she will only get better and be more valuable for her team.

Alina Müller (11) of PWHL Boston during a match against Minnesota on Jan. 3, 2024 Photo by: Michael Riley/PWHL

Minnesota — Grace Zumwinkle & Taylor Heise
Before the PWHL season began there were several people who weren’t too high on Minnesota. I know personally I thought they’d be a team in the bottom of the standings who would struggle to score and generate offense. Oh boy was I ever wrong. Six games into their season Minnesota sits second in the standings just one point back of Montreal with a game in hand. A huge part of that success has been the dominance of Grace Zumwinkle and Taylor Heise. Zumwinkle leads her team in points with five goals and one assist. Not trailing far behind her is line mate and first overall pick Heise who has three goals and two assists. Just six games into their respective pro careers they have led the charge for their hometown team and it’s been a treat to watch.

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Ottawa Emerance Maschmeyer 
There is currently only one goalie in the PWHL who has an assist. That goalie is Emerance Maschmeyer. (Okay, that’s not why I picked her as Ottawa’s early MVP candidate but it absolutely helped her case.) Maschmeyer has been nothing short of solid and consistent in between the pipes for Ottawa. In her five appearances she has a .924 SV% and a 1.89 GAA. She has put on a show early on this season and is giving her team the chance to win every single game.

Toronto Rebecca Leslie
When you take a look at the PWHL standings there’s one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb. That one thing is the entire PWHL Toronto team. In seven games played they only have two wins and a brutal 12 goals for, tied for the league’s worst with Boston — a team who has only played five games. It’s been tough to find a bright spot on this team early into the season but 27-year old Rebecca Leslie seems to be finding her game for Toronto. The forward leads the team in points with five assists to her name and seems to generate offense every time she steps on the ice, which is something the team so badly needs.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
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Fridays: Hockey
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Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by The Ice Garden