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PWHL Toronto makes statement in game one win over Minnesota

A photo of Coca Cola Coliseum with a PWHL Toronto logo at center ice and on the jumbotron. A zamboni is on the ice
Photo courtesy of Adriana Fallico/OVER THE LINE SPORTS

BY: ELI SILVERSTONE


PWHL Toronto defeated PWHL Minnesota 4-0 Wednesday night at the Coca-Cola Coliseum in the first-ever PWHL playoff game, snagging a 1–0 lead in the best-of-five series. 


As the top seed, PWHL Toronto had the opportunity to select between three-seed Minnesota and four-seed Boston. Minnesota had come into the matchup on a five-game losing streak, which was part of the reason for Toronto’s selection. 


“The whole season we’ve been building and building, waiting to get into the playoffs,” said Toronto captain Blayre Turnbull after the game.


Fans flocked to Coca-Cola Coliseum on foot, by car, and via transit, many proudly wearing their blue PWHL Toronto jerseys. Toronto gave them plenty to get excited about, taking advantage of Minnesota coming off a tough travel day.


Through the first five minutes, Toronto applied heavy pressure before breaking through at the 9:17 mark of the first. It was a goal from none other than the league’s top scorer in the regular season, Natalie Spooner. She sniped one into the top corner from the hash-marks to give Toronto the 1-0 lead. 

A little later in the first, it was announced Spooner had been awarded the Billie Jean King MVP award for her play in the regular season. The three-time Olympian led the PWHL in points with 27.


Turnbull praised her teammate after the game.


 “Anytime [Spooner] has the puck in the O-Zone you know she’s a threat to score or make a great play,” the captain said. 


The momentum continued into the second period, as less than a minute in, Emma Maltais took a pass from a streaking Sarah Nurse and went forehand-backhand-five hole past Minnesota goaltender Nicole Hensley to give Toronto a commanding 2-0 lead.


All the while, Toronto netminder Kristen Campbell stood tall and imposed her will on the game. Despite creating some chances off the rush and the cycle, Minnesota’s high-scoring forwards Grace Zumwinkle—19 pts—and Kendall Coyne-Schofield—16 pts—had no answer for her.  


Toronto head coach Troy Ryan was pleased with Campbell’s play and mindset as the season progressed.


“Her demeanour has remained the same. It just gives us confidence. It gives the organization confidence,” he said of Campbell.


Minnesota was applying heavy pressure at the end of the second period, but couldn’t cut the lead down. Shortly after, Turnbull and Spooner turned a two-on-one break into a 3-0 Toronto lead after Spooner’s cross-crease pass hit Turnbull’s skate, fooling Hensley. 


Toronto battened down the hatches in the third, holding onto their 3-0 lead with tight defending. They collapsed in the slot and blocked shots while maintaining the energy and physical play they used to build their lead. 


The shots on goal in the game finished at 26-19 in favour of Minnesota but Campbell and Toronto’s defence were impenetrable. 


“It’s what I expect and what the group expects as well… It’s a stepping stone for us to continue to build for this series”, said Ryan.


With the game all but wrapped up, Blayre Turnbull added her second of the night on a late rebound opportunity, putting the nail in the coffin and securing the 4-0 Toronto win. 

Toronto hosted the first-ever PWHL game back on January 6, 2024, at Mattamy Athletic Centre and have now hosted the inaugural playoff game just over four months later. 


Campbell agreed hosting the inaugural game back in January helped ease some of tonight’s nerves. 


“We’re all so ready. We can go out there and execute because we’re so prepared for this type of game,” she said.


Game two between Toronto and Minnesota is scheduled for Friday, May 10, at 7 p.m. at Coca-Cola Coliseum. Stay tuned for coverage from Intermission Sports













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