PWHL New York makes star-studded UBS Arena debut

Pascal Daust spoke with a thick Canadian accent, but his message reflected the sentiments of his new home in New York.

“I know this song says a lot, 'If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,'” PWHL New York general manager said Wednesday night at UBS Arena as his team defeated PWHL Montreal 5-2. He said with a smile before losing. “We have 19 of them. [thousand] If the seats are going to be filled, why not New York? ”

Daust and New York's journey to get here has only just begun.

They certainly have jobs that are suitable for them.

Wednesday night's matchup was New York's third as the PWHL begins its first season as the new top professional women's hockey league.

It will be the team's first time at UBS Arena in Elmont, which is primarily the Islanders' home arena this season, but will be one of two home venues along with Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.

PWHL New York forward Jesse Eldridge (9) dives after teammate Ella Shelton (17) scores in the third period during PWHL New York's 5-2 loss to PWHL Montreal. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

But it's “New York” sewn on the team's teal jerseys, not Connecticut.

Bridgeport is certainly close enough, but the 2,201 fans who showed up on Wednesday were more likely to see this team than the fans who showed up for the team's 3-2 loss to Toronto last Friday at Total Mortgage Arena. It's very similar to the fan base that the company is trying to attract.

Islanders legend Brian Trottier dropped the ceremonial first puck.

Amy Rivard sang among the fans, not on the ice, and belted out the Canadian and American national anthems.

Women's tennis legend Billie Jean King appeared on the Jumbotron.

The Post's Jenna Lemoncelli served as the arena's emcee that night and got the crowd excited.

And finally, New York began playing for the first time at home in front of a new fan base.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King attended a match between PWHL New York and PWHL Montreal during the second period. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

“It's definitely a dream come true,” Daoust said. “Dreams start with a plan. Until you make a plan, it's always a dream. Now we have a great, great plan from the league. And they have an opportunity today to put on a show for the fans and for New York. I have it. A wonderful dream will come true.

“We expect our fans to see themselves as a team: a team that works hard for 60 minutes, competes, is gritty and fair.”

New York has strong local competition for fans' attention, with professional football, baseball, basketball, soccer, two men's hockey teams, and countless college teams.

PWHL New York forward Emma Woods (67) celebrates after teammate Ella Shelton (not pictured) scores a goal. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

Will the team, and more broadly a league starting with six teams, be able to carve out a niche for itself?

“The biggest thing for this sport is finding a place where they can go and impact the community and bring more girls into hockey in general and show them there's a place to go. ” said one fan, Christian Skowsky. post. “At the end there's an end goal. A lot of girls quit hockey at a young age. …Now they see themselves doing the same things other professional athletes are doing. can do.”

The game had most of the feel of a professional game, except for one detail.

Fans chanted “Let's go to New York” all night, especially after Jesse Eldridge's first-period goal and Ella Shelton's third-period goal, wondering why it was “New York” instead of the team name. It was about.

PWHL Montreal forward Catherine Dubois (28) scores the go-ahead goal from PWHL New York goaltender Corinne Schroeder. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

Well, we don't have a nickname for the team yet.

Teams in the league do not yet have logos or logos.

It's a reminder of how new the league is.

But some early signs are optimistic.

Last Saturday's game between Minnesota and Montreal at the Xcel Energy Center drew 13,316 fans, setting a record for the largest attendance for a women's professional hockey game.

No, New York hasn't come close to matching it, but then again, competition for attention in this area is fierce.

“I had to look around and pinch myself a few times because it’s such a beautiful facility,” head coach Howie Draper said of UBS Arena. “The ice was fast and the fans were great. I could hear them behind us giving us everything they could give us. Maybe we didn't deserve a few calls,” the referees said. We gave them a hard time. That's what we need. … It was a lot of fun to play here.”