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Natalie Spooner nets two points to lead PWHL Toronto to 5-2 win over PWHL Ottawa

OTTAWA — It was a two-and-a-half-minute stretch early in the second period that told the tale Saturday.
Toronto's Natalie Spooner (24) celebrates her goal with Blayre Turnbull (40) as Ottawa's Natalie Snodgrass (8) skates away, during first period PWHL hockey action in Ottawa, on Saturday, March 2, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — It was a two-and-a-half-minute stretch early in the second period that told the tale Saturday.

Three goals in two minutes and 28 seconds early in the second period turned a 1-0 lead into a huge 4-0 cushion for PWHL Toronto in their 5-2 win over PWHL Ottawa.

Natalie Spooner had a power-play goal and an assist to lead the charge, but it was goals from Brittany Howard, Hannah Miller and Samantha Cogan in that middle frame that allowed Toronto (9-5-0) to claim its seventh straight victory.

“Being able to manage the momentum shifts and capitalize on them, and us getting a power-play goal, was huge,” Toronto forward Sarah Nurse said. "Our PK has been really good all year but it was really good for us to get a goal on that power play and once we got rolling five-on-on-five we were off to the races.”

Renata Fast, Nurse and Victoria Bach had two assists each while Kristen Campbell made 23 saves, including a breakaway stop on Emily Clark early in the third period.

Gabbie Hughes and Ashton Bell scored for Ottawa (4-6-4).

Emerance Maschmeyer started in goal for Ottawa but was replaced by Sandra Abstreiter in the second period after allowing three goals on 13 shots. Abstreiter turned aside nine of the 10 shots she faced.

In a physical first period, Toronto opened the scoring as Spooner collected a loose puck in the slot and beat Maschmeyer through the legs for a power-play goal at 12:53.

Toronto nearly took a 2-0 lead minutes later but a sprawled out Maschmeyer got her glove on a shot from Jesse Compher to take away what looked like a sure goal.

Toronto came out flying to start the second period and scored three goals in a span of just under two-and-a-half minutes.

Bach gave Toronto a 2-0 lead with a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Maschmeyer far side at 2:46. Miller then scored on a rebound at 4:43.

Things started poorly for Abstreiter as she allowed a goal to Cogan on the first shot she faced at 5:14. That was Cogan’s first PWHL goal.

“It felt great, especially being in my hometown of Ottawa. It felt amazing,” she said. "I had a bunch of friends here but unfortunately my family is not here because they are away on vacation, but I’m sure they were watching on TV. Pretty awesome.”

Despite the second-period outburst by Toronto, Ottawa coach Carla MacLeod said it was the first period that was concerning.

“I think it was the first we struggled the most in. It looked like a little slower start and a little softer than we had hoped for and planned for,” MacLeod said.

“I think in the second we started to turn the tide and we took over the game but at that time our deficit was so big, it’s hard to dig out of that in this league. We had a good effort. We didn’t stop, but we talked about our start and we didn’t like it.”

Ottawa finally broke through when Hughes got the last touch on the puck after a scramble in front of the Toronto goal. She pushed it just over the goal line at 11:16.

At 5:49 of the third period, Bell got a backhand shot past Campbell to pull Ottawa within a pair. Connors iced the win with an empty-net goal at 18:27.

Ottawa outshot Toronto 21-16 over the final two periods.

“There’s a range of emotions and frustration for sure, but we’re a very accountable group and we’re trying our best to talk it out and try to learn from it,” Clark said.

“I’m proud of our team for the response. When things like that happen you just have to take a deep breath and reset.”


Saturday was the third meeting of the season between Ottawa and Toronto. Ottawa won the first two games by scores of 5-1 and 3-1. … Spooner leads the PWHL with 11 goals in 14 games. … Ottawa placed forward Kristin Della Rovere on long-term injured reserve with a wrist injury that will require surgery. … Maschmeyer has played in all 14 games this season.


Ottawa will take to the ice again next Tuesday when they play in Minnesota. Toronto hosts Boston next Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2024.

Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press