By Mikayla Guarasci
Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Toronto took down league-leading Minnesota 4-1 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Saturday afternoon, marking the first time they’ve won back-to-back games this season.
Ahead of the game, Toronto bolstered their lineup by adding two-time world champion Victoria Bach. The forward recently signed a contract from the reserve list. Bach missed the first month of the season while completing teacher’s college at Brock University.
“She brings an offensive upside,” said Toronto head coach Troy Ryan about adding Bach. “She’s a very smooth player. I think she will help our power play once she gets comfortable with the people around her.”
Toronto started the game strong, applying pressure on Minnesota. They created dangerous scoring opportunities but couldn’t capitalize. After a strong penalty kill late in the period, Toronto was rewarded with a powerplay as defender Maggie Flaherty went off for tripping.
Forward Natalie Spooner capped off a solid period with a powerplay marker—her sixth goal of the season—and tying the league lead.
“Today was really great,” said Spooner. “Minnesota being at the top of the [leader] board, it was a big game, and to get that win, we should take a lot of confidence from that.
Toronto’s penalty kill went to work early in the second period, limiting Minnesota’s chances. Minnesota finally put one by goalie Kristen Campbell in the second period as forward Kendall Coyne Schofield deflected the puck off her skate past Toronto’s netminder. Boos rained down from the crowd as Minnesota celebrated their goal.
“It’s been awesome,” said Toronto’s captain Blayre Turnbull about the fan’s support. “Towards the end of the game, there was close to a minute left and they were cheering so loud that Minnesota couldn’t hear that they were offside.”
Defender Renata Fast regained the lead for Toronto shortly after. Following a scramble out front, the puck came loose and Fast’s shot found its way past Minnesota goaltender Nicole Hensley for her first of the season.
In the third period, Turnbull scored her first goal of the season to give the home side a two-goal lead.
“It feels great,” said Turnbull after the game. “Going into the season, you never really expect to wait nine games to score your first goal, but for me, it was just about focusing on the things that help me score goals.”
Turnbull’s goal was quickly followed by Spooner’s second goal of the game and seventh of the season. The goal sealed a 4-1 win for Toronto, making Spooner the sole leader in league scoring.
The win marked three in a row for Campbell after losing four of her first five. She made 24 saves in the win. On the other side, Hensley also made 24 saves for Minnesota.
“We really put together a complete game, especially in the third,” said Campbell. “I thought it was a great team effort and a big win for us today.”
UP NEXT: Following a break for the Rivalry Series, Toronto will look to continue their winning streak when they head to Boston on Feb. 14. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.