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PWHL Toronto player Natalie Spooner raises her stick in the air after scoring a shootout goal
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PWHL Toronto continue their winning ways in shootout thriller

By Sam Beaudoin

In their fourth meeting of the regular season, Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Toronto defeated New York 2-1 in a shootout thriller on Friday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC). 

Both squads entered the contest playing some of their best hockey of the young season. Toronto entered winners in their last four games, while New York came in riding a three-game win streak. 

“It was physical out there…we showed a lot of character,” said Toronto forward Natalie Spooner. “They’re a tough team to play against…every game in this league is a tough game.”

Despite the recent success, both teams are still trying to separate themselves from the .500 mark. New York entered the game with 15 points in the standings, good for fifth-best in the PWHL. While Toronto came into play sitting in third place in league standings, with 17 points. 

The home side came out of the gates in the first period firing on all cylinders. New York netminder Corinne Schroeder was tested multiple times in the opening minute, with her biggest save coming against Spooner—the PWHL’s leading goal scorer—on a wrap-around attempt. 

“I’ve always been a shootout player”

The early Toronto momentum led New York into an undisciplined style of play, with forward Abby Roque taking a roughing penalty within the opening minutes. 

The Toronto power play has been a weak point for the team all season and those trends continued on the team’s first power play of the night. Toronto’s power play entered operating at 8.8 per cent, with head coach Troy Ryan’s team struggling to maintain possession of the puck in the offensive zone. 

“We play with so much energy, and sometimes the mentality on the power play is to slow things down,” said Ryan. “With the team we have, we still have to play with that energy and not get outworked.”

The play opened up to start the second frame, bringing life back to the home faithful. Both teams went up and down the ice trading odd-numbered rushes, yet couldn’t fetch the game’s first goal. 

The loud cheers quickly turned into boos when Toronto forward Emma Maltais was called for a faceoff interference penalty, sending the league’s second-best power play to work. 

Despite coming up scoreless on the man advantage, New York continued applying the pressure. The visitors’ leading scorer Alex Carpenter was robbed on the doorstep on an outstanding save from Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell midway through the period. 

As time expired in the period, both teams continued to trade scoring chances and penalties. With seconds left on the clock during the second, Toronto forward Sarah Nurse was called for hooking—sending New York to another power play to begin the third period.

  • PWHL Toronto players celebrate a goal huddled on the ice
  • PWHL New York Alex Carpenter prepares for a face off
  • PWHL Toronto player Renata Fast skates on the ice
  • Players from PWHL Toronto and PWHL New York battle for a puck along the boards near New York's bench
  • Fans hold up signs at the MAC that read "Spoon"
  • A PWHL New York player skates on the ice and looks to her teammates
  • PWHL Toronto player Blayre Turnbull and PWHL New York player Alex Carpenter race for the puck
  • A PWHL New York player prepares to shoot the puck as a Toronto player slides across the ice to block it
  • PWHL Toronto player Natalie Spooner stares at the ice from the bench

To start the final frame, Toronto easily killed the remaining minute of the New York man advantage—adding to their league-best 94.4 per cent penalty-killing unit.

“It’s something we take lots of pride in,” said Toronto captain Blayre Turnbull. “Anytime we’re challenged with killing a penalty we want to overcome it.”

Toronto utilized this momentum to their advantage and finally broke the deadlock midway through the period—much to the chagrin of the 2,494 in attendance. 

After forcing a turnover in the neutral zone, Maltais and Turnbull broke in on a two-on-one. Despite making the initial save on a Maltais wrister, the puck trickled past Schroeder to give Maltais her second marker of the year. 

“As hard as she plays, it was nice to see her get rewarded with a goal,” said Ryan. 

New York threatened to respond while on the power play. However, the Toronto penalty kill was up for the challenge yet again, keeping the visitors off the score sheet.

Moments later and in the final minute of play, chaos broke loose. With the extra attacker, New York was turned away several times by Campbell and their fate seemed sealed.

However, as fans were filing to the exits, New York defender Ella Shelton found herself alone in the slot with 8.6 seconds remaining in regulation. The Ingersoll, Ont. product ripped it past Campbell to even the scoring and send the game to overtime. 

“Our mentality was that we were so close to the win that we can’t let that change the momentum,” said Turnbull.  

For New York, overtime is not unfamiliar territory. The team has reached extra time in five of their 11 games played this season, winning four of those contests. 

Despite a power play opportunity for the visitors, overtime would not seal the deal and shootouts were required to crown a winner. 

In the shootout, Spooner put her squad on her back—scoring the lone two goals in the shootout and propelling her team to victory.

“I’ve always been a shootout player,” said Spooner. “The first team I ever made, I’m pretty sure I only made it because of my shootout moves.” 

UP NEXT: Toronto looks to extend their win streak as they face Minnesota on Feb. 27 at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.

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