top of page

Takeaways: PWHL Toronto head into break with win over Minnesota

PWHL Toronto and PWHL Minnesota group up near centre ice at Mattamy Athletic Centre during warm up.


Saturday saw PWHL Toronto take another step in turning their season around by defeating the league’s first-place team, Minnesota, in a convincing 4-1 win. 

Let’s look at some takeaways. 

Eyes on the bigger picture going into the rivalry series 

With the win, Toronto shot up to third overall in the PWHL standings. It was also their third win in four games.

“I think we’ve been trending in the right direction,” said Toronto head coach Troy Ryan, though he sees more in his team. “There’s still so much room for improvement. We’re not even close to where we need to be.”. 

With Feb. 7 up to Feb. 11 being a break in the PWHL season for the conclusion of the Rivalry Series, it was important for Toronto to get the win. Following their first win on home ice last weekend, the win means they carry momentum into the break. 

“Obviously, Minnesota being at the top of the board, I think it was a big game and I think we should take a lot of confidence from that,” said Toronto forward Natalie Spooner. 

“It just feels good going into the Rivalry Series. They’re big games for us and to get that confidence going is big,” she added. 

Spooner herself had a two-goal performance that put her on top of the PWHL in goals, passing Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle and Team Canada teammate Marie-Philip Poulin, who plays for Montreal. 

“She [Poulin] sent me a text after the last game. So maybe she’ll send me another one,” joked Spooner.  

Spooner also laughed at the idea of making any kind of bet with Captain Clutch. 

Fast and Turnbull get on the board

Saturday’s game saw two key players score their first goals of the season. Renata Fast scored what would end up being the game-winner, a quick snapshot that came to her in the slot after a Henlsey save. Captain Blayre Turnbull’s first goal, a backhander in tight sent to her by Spooner, was the insurance marker for Toronto and the dagger for Minnesota. 

“We had Blayre score a goal, Fast score a goal. I think we’re getting rolling now and it’s exciting,” said Spooner, putting the spotlight on her teammates despite her own multi-goal performance.

Coach Ryan emphasized the importance of the two forwards’ defensive games while praising the additional dose of offence they provided. He said Fast plays tough minutes, so the offence is a cherry on top.

“It’s not something we expect from Renata,” said Ryan. 

“She plays a lot of minutes and plays against all the top players in the league so whenever she’s able to produce offensively with a goal, it’s just a bonus.”

Ryan echoed the same sentiment for his captain, Turnbull. 

“You know sometimes I find it funny,” Ryan said. “There’s a new league and you put a C on her jersey and everyone expects her to be scoring goals all the time. It’s just not Blayre’s game.”

Ryan praised Turnbull’s ability to play in tough matchups, like he did for Fast. 

“She plays such an honest game and honestly [I] couldn’t be more happy and proud of the way [Turnbull has] been playing,” he said. “That's just a bonus, her getting that goal tonight.” 

Campbell strings together strong starts

Kristen Campbell might be the hottest goalie in the PWHL right now.

Saturday’s victory gave the Brandon, Man., product her third straight win, in matches that included a shootout win over Montreal and a shutout versus New York. She posted a .941 sv% in that stretch, bringing her season sv% up to 0.899. 

The first half of the game looked to be a goalie duel between Campbell and Nicole Hensley, but it was Campbell who came out ahead.

“Just keeping things simple,” Campbell said was the key after the game. 

“I’m feeling good about my game, making slight adjustments each period and each game as we move forward.”

Like Spooner, Campbell also focused on putting together wins for the team over praising her own individual performance. 

Her third start in four games is clear proof of confidence from the coach. 

“I think she made some big saves on a couple opportunities,’ said Ryan 

“Like any goaltender, you play with confidence and things tend to go well with you.” 

Excitement and gratitude building for Battle of Bay Street 

The next home game for Toronto is the highly anticipated Battle on Bay Street at Scotiabank Arena on Friday, Feb. 16. 

The game, which will be played at the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, sold out in minutes and looks to set a new record for attendance for a women’s professional hockey game. 

The current record is 13,316, set on Jan. 6 during a game between Montreal and Minnesota. More than 18,000 fans are expected to attend the Battle on Bay Street.  

Turnbull said it was “awesome” to get the opportunity.“We owe a lot to the investor group that put the money in to make sure we get the exposure that we deserve,” she said. “I think because of that exposure more people are jumping on our bandwagon and kind of appreciating our brand of hockey.”.

Turnbull hopes the sellout is a sign of things to come. 

“It’s huge that we were able to sell out Scotiabank and hopefully that puts some things in place for next season to potentially get us a bigger venue,” she said, adding the team is excited to be a part of the atmosphere in that game. 

It will be the bow on top of a stretch in Toronto where Sarah Nurse and Marie-Philip Poulin were serenaded by the Toronto crowd at the PWHL’s 3 on 3 Showcase and Blayre Turnbull served as a guest participant with Nurse during the NHL’s All-Star Skills Competition. 

“This has all been bigger and better than we could have ever imagined,“ said Spooner.

“We sit at home and we watch women’s hockey when we’re not playing. It's amazing, the buzz around it and we’re just trying to keep it going.” 

PWHL Toronto’s next matchup is against PWHL Boston on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Stay tuned for more from Intermission Sports.


bottom of page