Toronto Defeats Minnesota in Game One of the PWHL Walter Cup Playoffs

10 May 2024 / by Zoha Naghar

Wednesday, May 8th, kicked off the first game of the inaugural PWHL playoffs at the Coca-Cola Coliseum. 


PWHL Toronto absolutely dominated the ice, resulting in a 4-0 win over Minnesota. That said, Minnesota was putting up a fight throughout the entire game but Toronto goaltender, Kristen Campbell was nearly impossible to get the pucks by. 


The first bit of the first period had a lot of movement but little to no action, as both teams were headed back and forth on the ice. That was until 9:37 pm when Toronto forward Natalie Spooner scored the first-ever PWHL playoff goal, assisted by Hannah Miller and Allie Munroe.


At this point in the game, chants were heard across the arena screaming “Go Natalie Spooner,” with fans holding signs that read “mom strength” and some, even holding cardboard cutouts of spoons.


During intermission, a line for merchandise could be seen wrapped around the inside of the building adding to the electric energy that is felt around the actual rink itself.  


As fans made their way back to the stands, Emma Maltais scores 55 seconds into the second period, with a goal assisted by forward, Sarah Nurse. A 2-0 Toronto lead forced Minnesota to fight as hard as they could and the team gave their all on the ice, accumulating a number of shots on net, but were unsuccessful in securing a goal. 


“Our team did a great job of helping me out when I needed it, blocking shots and clearing pucks. I just play one puck at a time, that’s been my motto this whole season and just taking control of the game when I can and getting us whistles and staying calm back there,” said Campbell when asked about how she was seeing pucks on the ice last night.


Toronto coach Troy Ryan talked about Campbell’s performance during this season. “She’s been outstanding. I think even at times tonight, I thought we controlled the play in general but there was a big spell there in the second period where they were all over us at times but at no point did I feel like we’re in danger because of the control that Soupy was playing under.”


Around the 15-minute mark, Natalie Spooner and Jocelyne Larocque assisted in Toronto’s third goal scored by Toronto team captain, Blayre Turnbull. 


The fans in the arena were on their feet, buzzing with excitement and the chants were so loud it was hard to hear the music playing over the speakers. 


There were 8,473 fans in attendance at last night’s game and the players said the crowd is one of their favourite parts of the game. 


Turnbull said the crowd was amazing. “We kinda knew what to expect after our game at Scotiabank [arena] and then having these games sell out just as quickly as that one did, we knew that the crowd would be loud and the fans would be engaged and they were.” 


She continued, “Right from warm-up, there were so many signs in the crowd and as soon as we stepped on the ice for puck drop, the fans were so loud. I think that having home crowds like that really helps calm the nerves and it gets you excited to be on the ice and ready to play, she said with a smile on her face.


As the third period went on, Minnesota continued to put up a fight and had the puck on their sticks at times but just couldn’t get it past Campbell. This back-and-forth play continued into the final seconds of the period, until forward Hannah Miller shot the puck that ended up bouncing off of Minnesota goaltender, Nicole Hensley, and onto Turnbull’s stick. Turnbull was able to react quickly and scored, cementing in a 4-0 lead for Toronto.


At this point, Minnesota was still moving up and down the ice with 37 seconds left but as the countdown hit 10 seconds, fans in the arena started to jump for joy and the Toronto players skated to each other to celebrate not only their game one semi-finals win, but the first-ever win of the PWHL Walter Cup Playoffs. 


Minnesota coach, Ken Klee, said the team came here knowing they want to win one game before going home and that they are going to get a regular practice in on their day off on Thursday and aim to win Friday’s game before the teams travel to Minnesota for game three.


Toronto and Minnesota will battle in game two on Friday, May 10th at 7 pm at the Coca-Cola Coliseum.