Can't Stop Won't Stop: Toronto 3, New York 2
- 5 min read

Can't Stop Won't Stop: Toronto 3, New York 2

Can't Stop Won't Stop: Toronto 3, New York 2 by Zoë Hayden

In front of 2,152 fans at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, PWHL New York put together a strong, exciting, fast game for their home crowd – but PWHL Toronto had learned some lessons since their own home opener was spoiled, and came to play for revenge.

What happened?

This game continued the trend of being more free-flowing in terms of puck movement. Both teams were able to land passes on sticks and maintain possession a little more cleanly than we saw in their first matchup against each other. The hockey was still really physical, and most of the 5 goals that featured in this game were born from around the blue paint.

Toronto found themselves down again early, as New York's Emma Woods went behind Kristen Campbell's net and threw a nifty feed out to the slot, where Chloe Aurard settled it down for Abby Roque. Roque was able to take a couple cracks at it and put it behind Campbell to make it 1-0.

Late in the first, Toronto started pushing momentum their way, and got help from a couple of penalties called on New York. They couldn't convert by the end of the first period, despite Abbey Levy and Alex Carpenter losing their sticks during the 5 on 3. Toronto would finally get on the board after over 80 minutes of scoreless hockey, early in the second period. Sarah Nurse, working the left point on the Toronto power play, shot towards the net and Blayre Turnbull got her stick on a rebound, but Natalie Spooner got the second whack at it that put it behind Levy.

The pace of the second period was set by physicality, pushing, shoving, and buzzing around the net on both sides. Campbell was able to control chaos around her own net, and just a few minutes later, Toronto would take their first lead in team history after an extended sequence where New York couldn't do anything to clear their own zone, leading to an icing. Immediately off the faceoff, the puck went to the net again, and this time Alexa Vasko found the back of the net pouncing on the rebound.

Evenly matched, back-and-forth hockey dominated the second period, and Alex Carpenter got the equalizer for her team late in the frame on a crazy-quick release from the high slot.

Between these two teams, at this point in their budding rivalry, a tie game in the third period was bound to be physical and chippy. That's what set the stage for Toronto's game-winner. The officials tried to set an example after a huge scrum next to Campbell, and assessed three penalties – two minutes each to Toronto's Allie Munroe (roughing) and Olivia Knowles (cross-checking), and two to New York's Ella Shelton (cross-checking).

Toronto went right to work trying to score, recognizing they were running out of time to turn the game in their favor. Sarah Nurse and Blayre Turnbull took it the other way first to generate a shorthanded chance, and then Jesse Compher and Emma Maltais did the same, generating a 2-on-1 with speed. Abby Levy couldn't cover Compher's rebound, and Maltais pounced to score the first shorthanded goal in PWHL history – and free Allie Munroe from the box, in what the league is starting to call a "jailbreak" penalty kill.

"I said to Jesse, like, let's go test this rule out!" said Emma Maltais after the game. "We've been focusing on not just shuffling it down the ice, like looking up and making a play for the clear, and she had a great support position to get it down. And I just went hard to that with my stick on ice, and she made a perfect play to me."

Toronto had one more penalty to kill to maintain their lead and the win, but Campbell stood tall and time ran out for PWHL New York – and the curse home opener curse lived on for at least another day.

Three up, three down

THE CURSEAfter Toronto's lackluster performance on Monday, a lot of woho folks predicted that New York would be the first team to win a home game. But the home opener curse has been good for four road wins in four PWHL games. Minnesota can break the curse tonight, but that means Montreal needs to win their second road game in a row.

↓ Officiating – There were a lot of questions about the officiating during and after this game. An open-ice hit away from the puck by Renata Fast on Jill Saulnier went un-penalized for reasons that seemed unclear to everyone. There are also mixed views on the disallowed New York goal in the third period – when did the whistle blow? New York head coach Howie Draper said the explanation he received for the no goal was "intent to blow" on the part of the referee. Per the PWHL rule book, an official can rule that play has stopped when they intended to stop the play, whether the whistle had sounded or not (see rule 80.5, section xii, under "Disallowed goals"). It's a new league and everyone is still feeling out what should be normal, but it's something to keep an eye on.

"I thought the reffing was really inconsistent the whole game," said Abby Roque. "I mean, we score a goal in the third that's blatantly a goal. And I'm still confused as to why it wasn't. But it's sometimes what we have to deal with... I thought our first game's refs were awesome. It sucks that game by game things change. So I obviously [was] not pleased with that. And I don't mean just for us, I think both ways. It was just inconsistent, unfortunately."

↑ Internal goalie battles – NY head coach Howie Draper was clear in his postgame comments that he intends for Corinne Schroeder and Abbey Levy to compete with each other for the #1 spot. Right now, he's trying to give them both starts and see how they do:

"We've said from the outset that that we feel that we have two very strong goalies that can play at this level, we also feel that Lindsay Post strong too, but she's got some work to do. I think her job really right now is to push the other two. But my intent is to is to give both Schroeds and Levy an opportunity to get in as many games as we can and compete to see who will eventually be that goalie that takes us down the stretch and into playoffs."

Both have looked sharp so far, though obviously Schroeder has the shutout and the win under her belt.

↓ Quiet nights for goalies – Toronto put 37 shots on net and New York mustered 31. Campbell and Levy had to deal with a total of 68 shots tonight, the most so far in any PWHL game.

↑ Identity building – Toronto head coach Troy Ryan said after the game that his team is still figuring out their identity, and he doesn't seem worried about what it's going to be. It's an interesting attitude for a coach to take (most coaches love being able to deliver a few buzzwords about what defines their team), but perhaps a healthy one – it's early in the season, and these are players in a brand-new situation in a brand-new league, and everything is going to feel a little different. "Tough to play against" was how Natalie Spooner described their game in Bridgeport.

↓ My sleep schedule – There's more PWHL than I know what to do with. It's been years since I've been able to watch and consistently cover hockey like this, and between this and supporting Nicole's U18 coverage in Switzerland, there's a lot going on! Driving to Bridgeport last night to see New York's home opener was absolutely worth it no matter how much my body objects to the 2:00 AM bedtime.

VP's Player of the Game

Chloe Aurard – The New York forward leads the league in points with three, all assists, in two games, and is quietly a driving force behind the details in her team's offense. When she finally does score, it'll be well-earned.

(Photo: PWHL)