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Takeaways: PWHL Toronto closes out season with 5-2 win over Ottawa

PWHL players including Sarah Nurse and Jocelyn Larocque do a group hug after a goal, with sticks in the air.
PWHL Toronto celebrates a goal on May 5, 2024. (Konnor Killoran/THE EYEOPENER)


In their last regular-season game, PWHL Toronto beat Ottawa 5-2 at Mattamy Athletic Centre on Sunday night. 

The team officially ended their regular season with 13 wins, seven losses, and four overtime wins.

Toronto clinched the top spot in the league on Wednesday night after their 4-1 win over PWHL Minnesota, but Sunday brought higher stakes for Ottawa. 

The loss meant the end of Ottawa’s season, finishing in fifth place with 32 points. 

With the playoffs set to begin on Wednesday, Toronto has until Monday evening to decide whether they face third-place Boston or fourth-place Minnesota in the 2024 PWHL semi-finals. 

Dynamic duo Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse proved to be potent throughout the game, reinforcing the team’s status as a contender for the PWHL championship. 

Here are three takeaways from Toronto’s season finale win against Ottawa.

The scoreboard poorly reflected the game 

When the final buzzer rang at the end of the third period, Toronto had clearly beat Ottawa 5-2 with 30 shots on goal. However, the scoreboard did not show the insane intensity throughout the game. 

The first two periods saw Ottawa start slowly and finish with momentum before the second period ended, as they always had an answer to Toronto. With Spooner scoring Toronto’s first goal just 1:05 into the game, Ottawa’s Gabbie Hughes evened the game at 9:38 with her ninth goal of the season. Sarah Nurse scored her first goal on home ice just 1:10 later, making it 2-1, but Daryl Watts evened the score a few minutes into the middle frame.

With the game tied at 2-2 going into the crucial third period, both teams battled to score a goal to avoid overtime. Each team knew that a single goal could tip the outcome of the game and secure the win. 

With five minutes left on the clock, Spooner scored Toronto’s third goal of the game, a clutch performance that put the home side up 3-2. Her second goal of the game ignited the crowd and gave the team a surge of energy to finish the game strong until the final buzzer. 

Down by a goal, Ottawa pulled goalie Emerance Maschmeyer early, giving Toronto an advantage. Using their agility and speed, which Ottawa had matched all game but could not tame, Toronto forwards Victoria Bach and Samantha Cogan scored back-to-back empty-netters in the game’s final four minutes, putting Toronto up 5-2. 

The Mattamy Athletic Centre was buzzing with excitement. Fans were thrilled to see Toronto head into the post-season with yet another win, especially against Ottawa, a team they have struggled to beat all season. 

Spooner continues to top the charts 

Natalie Spooner’s impact on Sunday evening’s game was a testament to her continued stellar performance throughout the season. She dominated the rankings by scoring her 19th and 20th goals of the season. 

With 27 points, not only did she solidify her position as the league’s top goal-scorer, but also increased her lead in the points column of the PWHL leaderboard. 

Spooner, known for her skill, speed and shooting ability, set the tone of the game early on by scoring Toronto’s first goal just 65 seconds into the game. Her second goal came with five minutes left in the third period, showcasing her clutch ability to deliver in high-pressure moments. 

Nevertheless, her impact goes beyond her individual statistics.  As a leader on the team, she understands the importance of collective effort and teamwork in finishing with a win. Heading into Sunday’s game, Spooner knew the team needed to bring their dominance and speed to beat Ottawa. 

After the game, she emphasized the need to address any “opportunities that were given up” and weaknesses as the team prepares for the playoff season.

 “There’s always mistakes in games, and we got to go back and look at those and try to clean them up for the playoffs,” she said. 

Toronto head coach Troy Ryan highlighted Spooner’s leadership and reliability, noting her growth and ability to adapt. 

“She’s grown her game a little bit in some other areas as well. She’s just been someone we’ve been able to rely on from day one,” said head coach Troy Ryan. 

Spooner’s reliability and consistent performance have made her a valuable asset to the team, earning the trust and respect of her teammates, coaches, and fans. 

Toronto “flipped the switch,” getting ready for playoffs

Finishing the season as the top-seeded team, Sunday’s win helped Toronto prepare for post-season success. 

“If you kind of look at it like another series, and a game 5, say, this was do-or-die for them, so we knew we were going to have to bring our best because they were going to throw everything they had at us,” Spooner said. “We were able to manage it well and not get too high and too crazy.” 

Throughout the season, Toronto divided its season into five-game series and five-game segments against each opposition. Ryan emphasized how the team was successful in all five-game series except for Ottawa. 

“They gave us trouble all year….it’s just a testament to this league and how tough it is that a team like that [Ottawa] is sitting in that position, not in a playoff spot right now,” he said. 

It was evident Ottawa brought all its energy and speed into the second period. The pace of the game had picked up, along with physicality from both teams, but Toronto ultimately came out on top and does not have to worry about their most difficult opponent this season in the playoffs. 

PWHL Toronto is expected to decide who they will face as their semi-final matchup by tonight. 

They will open the PWHL playoffs on May 8 at the Coca-Cola Coliseum. 


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