Toronto Metropolitan University's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1967

PWHL Toronto celebrates
All Recaps Sports

Howe backstops Toronto to win over Boston, win streak now at 11

By Evan Davis

Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Toronto rallied from a third-period deficit to defeat Boston 2-1 and extend their winning streak to 11 games.

After a sluggish first 40 minutes of play, Toronto buckled down to play their style of hockey and continued their winning ways as a much faster-paced final period propelled Toronto to yet another victory. 

 “Our first 40 minutes was unacceptable,” Toronto defender Renata Fast said. 

After returning home from a game in Pittsburgh that saw 8,850 fans watch Toronto take on Montreal in the PPG Paints Arena, the league-leading side started tonight’s game at the Mattamy Athletic Centre sloppy.

Toronto took three penalties in the opening frame, with two coming 39 seconds apart. This gave Boston the chance to score their third power play goal of the season.

With Toronto defender Jocelyne Larocque and forward Sarah Nurse in the box—serving an interference and tripping penalty respectively—Boston defender Sidney Morin wired a shot from the top of the circle that flew by Toronto goaltender Erica Howe–who hasn’t played a game since Jan. 23. It was Morin’s first goal of the season and her first point in 12 games. 

“Our start could have been a lot better,” Toronto forward Natalie Spooner said. 

  • PWHL Boston celebrates
  • PWHL Toronto player Sarah Nurse skates with hands raised
  • PWHL Toronto celebrates
  • PWHL Toronto fan hold a sign up
  • PWHL Toronto and Boston huddle at their bench

Neither side built up any momentum in the latter half of the first period, sending both teams back to the locker room with a 1-0 lead for Boston. With the visitors remaining stout defensively, Toronto only mustered up three shots in the first period, with Boston netting 10 on Howe. 

Heading into the middle frame there wasn’t a sense of urgency from the Toronto side, as they relied too much on their goaltender. Boston maintained possession for most of the period, eliminating any pressure from a highly skilled Toronto team. 

Even with Boston dominating most of the game thus far, they couldn’t extend their lead past one. However, with under 14 minutes to go in the period, Boston had a chance to go ahead by two with forward Rebecca Leslie on a breakaway. However, Howe made a point-blank save to keep the game within arm’s reach.

Toronto was struggling to find a way to get back into the action, but with just over two minutes left in the second period, they were finally gifted their first power play of the night. Boston forward Taylor Girard was sent to the box for high-sticking. Boston doubled down shortly after as defender Kaleigh Fratkin joined Girard in the box just 25 seconds later for interference. 

The Toronto power play has been struggling all season and couldn’t capitalize yet again on the opportunity. 

Although the home side created chances, they couldn’t hit the target as they headed to the break with just six total shots in the period. 

Riding a 10-game game streak, Toronto was in unfamiliar territory as they trailed by one with 20 minutes left to go. 

“It is not something we think about, let’s go for 11 and let’s go for 12,”  Nurse said. 

Just two minutes into the final frame, newly acquired Boston forward Lexie Adzija headed to the box for tripping, setting Toronto up for another chance to tie the game. 

The crowd elevated from their seats, and Toronto was determined to get things squared at one early in the third period. After winning the draw, they set up shop. Less than a minute into the power play, Toronto defender Renata Fast walked into the slot and fired a shot over the glove of Boston goaltender Emma Söderberg to restore the tie. It was Fast’s second goal of the season and her sixth point in as many games. 

“Nerves are good. You want to keep the streak alive”

The goal proved to be the spark Toronto needed as they continued to put pressure on Boston. Toronto gave the visitors a taste of their own medicine from the first 40 minutes of play, with the home side playing sound defensively and forcing Boston to take shots from the outside. 

With the pressure heating up, Boston found themselves short-handed for the fourth time in a row with forward Sophie Shirley heading to the box for head contact.

With momentum on the mad advantage, Toronto had the confidence to take the lead at a crucial point in the game. Similar to the power play previously, Toronto capitalized quickly, as a superb keep at the blue line by Nurse set up Spooner. The PWHL’s leading goalscorer danced around Boston defender Emily Brown and lasered a shot past Söderberg with less than 13 minutes to go in regulation. 

“When I saw the puck turn over, I saw a lane and obviously the one defender, so I thought to create some space and get a shot off,” Spooner said.

The goal was Spooner’s 13th goal and 18th point of the season. During Toronto’s 11-game win streak, Spooner has scored 15 points and is currently riding a five-game point streak. Nurse tallied the lone assist on the goal, as she now has 11 points during the 11-game winning streak.  

Toronto’s defence and goaltending stood tall to keep the win streak alive another day. After not playing in over two months, Howe did not show an ounce of rust—saving 28 of 29 shots with some highlight-reel stops. 

After the clock struck zero, Howe—the game’s first star—received a loud cheer of appreciation for her first win on home ice this season. 

“I was really nervous,” Howe said. “Nerves are good. You want to keep the streak alive.”

UP NEXT: Toronto will look to keep their win streak alive on March 23 against Ottawa at 1 p.m.

Leave a Reply