May 30th, 2024

Toronto clinches top spot in PWHL with 4-1 win over Minnesota

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

Toronto's Brittany Howard (41) drives Minnesota's Maggie Flaherty (19) into the boards during second period PWHL action in Toronto on Wednesday May 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Natalie Spooner scored twice in leading Toronto to clinching first place in the Professional Women’s Hockey League with a 4-1 win over Minnesota on Wednesday.

Toronto (12-4-0-7) moved ahead of Montreal (10-3-5-5) in the standings with 44 points, while holding the tiebreaker in case of a tie by regular season’s end. Both teams have one game remaining before the post-season begins next week.

Earning first place means Toronto is able to choose between the third- or fourth-place team as their first playoff opponent.

Hannah Miller and Emma Maltais, with an empty-netter, also scored for Toronto, which extended its winning streak to three games. Kristen Campbell made 25 saves.

Spooner’s two goals extended her lead atop the league for points (25) and goals (18). Maltais also dished out two assists to take top spot in the PWHL with 15 on the season.

Michela Cava scored for Minnesota (8-4-3-8), which entered the game needing just one point to clinch a playoff spot and third place in the standings. Maddie Rooney stopped 19 shots.

It was the last of four regular-season matchups between the two sides, with Toronto taking the season series 2-1-0-1.

Cava opened the scoring 4:14 into the first period. Taylor Heise found Maggie Flaherty from behind the net, and Cava tipped in Flaherty’s point shot past Campbell.

Miller tied it on the power play at 10:16. Maltais, from the right faceoff circle, sent the puck to Sarah Nurse, who was near the back of the net and whizzed a pass into the slot for Miller who finished off the tick-tack-toe play.

Toronto picked things up in the second period.

Jocelyne Larocque had the door shut on her in front by Rooney, with Spooner missing another close chance and Nurse not being able to make due on a nice pass in front from Miller.

Spooner put Toronto ahead 11:10 into the second period on the power play. Renata Fast sent in a point shot that Spooner got her stick on.

Spooner added to her goal total and Toronto’s lead 7:24 into the third period. She blocked Lee Stecklein’s point shot and immediately went on a breakaway, where she got Rooney to bite on a deke well enough to almost the leave the entire net open and scored.

Maltais scored into an empty net with 2:05 remaining while almost falling with two defenders on her heels.

UP NEXT

Toronto hosts Ottawa for their regular-season finale on Sunday.

Minnesota visits New York for their regular-season finale on Saturday.

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

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