March 5th, 2024

Shelton, Schroeder lead New York past Toronto 4-0 in first PWHL game

By Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press on January 1, 2024.

Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell (50) makes a save on New York forward Alex Carpenter (25) as Toronto defender Jocelyn Larocque (3) looks on during first period PWHL action in Toronto on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Ella Shelton made history in a historic game.

Shelton scored the first goal, Corinne Schroeder earned the first-ever shutout and New York toppled Toronto 4-0 in the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League game Monday.

Shelton said her stick and Schroeder’s were headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“I didn’t even notice at first and then when all your teammates look at you and are jumping, you’re just like, ‘oh my God that actually went in,'” said the defender from Ingersoll, Ont., adding that her family and friends were in the crowd.

“A very surreal moment for me, I couldn’t tell you if I remember it all that well, blacked out a little bit during it, but very exciting, humbling, historic moment. So very proud of our group.”

Tennis legend and PWHL board member Billie Jean King performed the ceremonial puck drop accompanied by the league’s senior vice-president of hockey operations Jayna Hefford.

King championed the women’s drive for a professional hockey league that paid a living wage and offered the competitive supports male pros get.

“She’s obviously been a huge part of us getting this league going and she’s been a role model for so many young girls growing up and has obviously accomplished some pretty amazing things,” Toronto goalie Kristen Campbell said

“So it’s pretty surreal to have her out there.”

Each Toronto player was introduced to a sellout of 2,537 before puck drop at Mattamy Athletic Centre, which was previously Maple Leaf Gardens and the home of the NHL’s Maple Leafs.

All players received standing ovations as lights flashed from fans’ mobile phones recording the moment.

“I have a lot of my family here. A lot of my friends got season tickets so I’m really, really lucky,” said Toronto forward Emma Maltais of Burlington, Ont. “The atmosphere was incredible. Toronto is an amazing city.

“You could just tell there was a lot of craze about our game and coming to the rink yesterday for the first time here in Mattamy, being hosted so perfectly here; it was a great game and great atmosphere today.”

Numerous fans donned PWHL beanies, PWHL Toronto jerseys and Canadian team jerseys of different players, among other merchandise. Some held up signs, including one reading “Thank You Billie Jean King.”

Kim Desrochers, her husband and three young children came from Whitby, Ont., for the first PWHL game played.

“I just want to expose my girls to professional women’s hockey and I feel it was a no-brainer to come today,” Desrochers said.

“I feel it’s once in a lifetime. I’m so proud to be here and experience this first women’s professional hockey league, as one league together,” she added. “So we’ll definitely remember that forever.

“Took a lot of videos and pictures and love all the swag that we got because we’ll keep that as a memento when we grow.”

Alex Carpenter, with one goal and one assist, and Jill Saulnier and Kayla Vespa added the other goals for New York (1-0-0). Schroeder made 29 saves.

“I told my team after our skate that, ‘you guys may not know it “¦ but this is mecca right here. This structure that you’re in it right now, this is what everybody growing up in Canada would want to come to and experience,” New York head coach Howie Draper said of the PWHL’s first game in the former Maple Leaf Gardens.

Campbell stopped 24 shots for Toronto (0-1-0).

Shelton opened the scoring 10:43 into the first period with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle through traffic.

The second period was scoreless with Toronto outshooting New York 16-4.

Carpenter doubled New York’s lead 2:53 into the third period, roofing the puck over Campbell’s left shoulder.

Saulnier made it a 3-0 game at 4:57, tipping in a cross-ice pass from Jade Downie-Landry.

Vespa furthered New York’s edge at 7:42, taking a pass in front from Alexandra Labelle and sweeping the puck past Campbell.

QUICK WORK

The formulation of the PWHL began after it was announced June 30 that the new league would launch in 2024, along with news that Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter’s firm purchased assets of the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation.

The PWHL announced its six teams Aug. 29 along with other building blocks, including each team’s 24-game regular-season schedule beginning in January.

The draft took place Sept. 18 in downtown Toronto, with a free-agency period before it. Teams held training camps in November. The six teams gathered in Utica for pre-season scrimmages Dec. 4-7.

Board member and Dodgers president Stan Kasten said the previous evening’s New Year’s Eve celebration for PWHL staff was memorable.

“I told (our staff yesterday) that I brought sunglasses with me today and it’s not because I fear a hole in the roof,” Kasten said. “I will need to put them on because I will get emotional today.”

UP NEXT

The two teams meet again Friday at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 1, 2024.

Share this story:
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments