PWHL Toronto Leads Playoff Series 2-0 Against Minnesota After Late Goal by Jesse Compher

11 May 2024 / by Zoha Naghar

Last night, Friday, May 10th, the PWHL Toronto and PWHL Minnesota battled in a tight Game Two of the inaugural Walter Cup semi-finals that remained 0-0 for the majority of the game, until Toronto forward Jesse Compher brought the team to victory after a late goal. 


This win for Toronto means they now have a 2-0 lead in the series, meaning Minnesota could be swept if they lose Game Three. 


That said, both teams were putting up a strong fight. Minnesota had announced a lineup change before the game which had goaltender Maddie Rooney in net, who showed some impressive saves on the ice.


Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell earned her second shutout of the playoff series, and as the crowd erupted with joy, the Toronto players went on to celebrate, hugging their goaltender and smiling with joy and what seemed like great relief. 


Coach Troy Ryan commended Campbell on her calmness throughout the entire game. “She’s incredible; so calm, and that’s what I really liked tonight (…) every save she made she expected to make the save. She’s in good position; she covered well, she tracked the puck well, and I think when your goaltender can play with that type of confidence and that type of composure it just spread amongst the team from the players on the ice to the coaching staff. She’s a big part of why we’re where we’re at and she’s got us in a good place for sure.” 


Shots on the net started about 5 minutes into the first period but both teams were sort of going back and forth on the ice with no intense action. 


It was when the second period began, that the shots on net increased for Toronto but fell behind for Minnesota. 


This period was the start to very physical play, that Toronto forward Sarah Nurse says doesn’t hurt their game at all. “The strength of our team is that I think we can lead in the physicality factor but if other teams bring it to us, we’re gonna give it right back and so it depends on what teams bring that day but I think that we do a lot of dictating out there and you know testing the officiating a little bit, seeing what is gonna be allowed, [and] what we’re gonna get away with.” 


The third period started to get a bit more intense as the game looked like it was heading into overtime with a 0-0 score with increasing physicality. Minnesota was given two powerplays during this period but was still unsuccessful in getting the puck past Campbell which resulted in the arena erupting in “SOUP” chants.


That’s when with about 1:25 left in the third period, a shot by Toronto defender Renata Fast was deflected into the net by forward Jesse Compher, causing the stands of the Coca-Cola Coliseum to shake as fans jumped up from their seats waving their signs and PWHL Playoff rally towels high in the air, celebrating the winning goal.


“[I] just tried to go to the net as hard as possible, I think we’ve talked about it all year; getting in front of goalies, taking their eyes away, creates chaos and hopefully good things come through that and that’s what we experienced there,” said Compher.


If that wasn’t good enough, to seal in the win for the night, Toronto forward Hannah Miller shot an empty net goal giving the team a 2-0 lead over Minnesota. 


Minnesota coach, Ken Klee says they were hoping to leave Toronto with one win but it’s tough to be going home without that split. “We wanted to get the split, we played well enough to get the split, it just didn’t happen so when we get down to the 1:20 left in the game (…) we had as many chances as they did, it was a great hockey game it just didn’t fall our way but now we get to go home. We’ll have our home fans, we’ll have our energy. We’ve been great at home all year so I look to continue that.”


The teams are set to battle in Game Three on Monday, May 13th at the Xcel Energy Centre in Minnesota.