History was made on Tuesday night.
More than 8,000 fans – a North American pro women’s hockey record – jammed a sold-out TD Place Arena to witness Ottawa’s first game in the brand new Professional Women’s Hockey League.
The cherry on top would have been a victory for the home team, but Ottawa fell 3-2 to Montreal in overtime.
With body checking legal in the PWHL, the game was extremely physical. There was no scoring for 36 minutes, but there was no shortage of offensive opportunities in a game that was emotional, chaotic and entertaining.
Midway through the second period, Montreal’s Marie-Philip Poulin was given a penalty shot but was neatly turned away by Ottawa goalie Emerance Maschmeyer.
It looked like Mikyla Grant-Mentis had finally scored the first goal in Ottawa PWHL history, but on replay, the net had been lifted off its moorings and the puck actually went in through the side of the net.
After that false start, the fans got a second chance to erupt at 16:24 of the second period. Ottawa’s Hayley Scamurra ripped home a perfect power play slap shot to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead. 31 years after Neil Brady scored the first goal in Ottawa Senators’ history in the very same building, also against Montreal, Scamurra became the answer to a future Ottawa hockey trivia question of her own.
Ottawa fans only had 1:21 to enjoy the historic first goal before Claire Dalton tied it for Montreal with a nice shot of her own.
The two sides traded goals in the third, forcing overtime. After a turnover behind Ottawa’s net, Montreal’s Ann-Sophie Bettez corralled a loose puck in the slot and ripped home a wrist shot for the game winner.
While the result was a disappointment, that emotion didn’t last long. Everyone in the building realized they were part of a special, entertaining, history-making evening. As the fans cheered on, both teams posed for a photo at centre ice.
Official attendance was listed on the game sheet as 8318, shattering the record set last February, when the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association had 4,301 fans at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont.
Ottawa’s next home game – January 17th against Minnesota – is also a sell out. Professional women’s hockey is off to an incredible start in the nation’s capital.