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After first win, analysts say Montreal's PWHL team needs to build momentum to succeed


Montreal's professional women's hockey team is starting its franchise and season on a winning note.

Tuesday night's road win was both historic and record-breaking and analysts say the league needs to build on this momentum to succeed.

Montreal's team came out and did what they wanted to do. Just 64 seconds into the league's first-ever overtime, Ann-Sophie Bettez scored the game-winning goal. Assistant captain Kristin O'neill got the assist.

"The energy throughout the whole game was awesome but at the end when we were able to quiet that crowd down it was a great moment for us," she said after the game.

Montreal beat Ottawa 3-2 in its Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Tuesday night.

More than 8,300 fans packed TD Place, setting a North American attendance record for women's hockey.

"It was such a cool opportunity just skating out at the beginning of the game and hearing that crowd. I know we did hear some boos at the beginning but that's just all part of it," O'Neill said.

The inaugural game included a little bit of everything. The two yet-to-be named teams went back-and-forth, they drew a handful of penalties, and a goal was even disallowed.

"It was fast, it was physical and it was a lot of fun so I think it really checked all the boxes for anyone that might still be on the fence," said TSN 690 technical producer Andie Bennett in an interview.

Bennett said there are still aspects of the game that Montreal needs to work out. But she said it was an amazing representation of talent on display in the PWHL, featuring some of the world's best hockey players.

"I mean, it's just overall a really professional product and it's been a long time coming," Bennett added.

Women's hockey leagues in the past have tried and failed. John Molson School of Business professor Robert Soroka said it's up to the league to build winning partnerships with corporate sponsors and each of the six teams to build community.

"The players have to be accessible and cultivate the young fans. The fans that are going to be the ones that are influencing their parents to buy tickets," Soroka said.

While Montreal still has a few games on the road, O'Neill said she's excited for the opportunity to hit the ice at home.

"I think it's kind of nice to get a few more games under our belt to show the Montreal fans what we're truly about," she said.

Montreal plays its home opener Jan. 13 at Verdun Auditorium. Top Stories

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