Spooner Shootout Magic: Toronto 2, New York 1 (SO)
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Spooner Shootout Magic: Toronto 2, New York 1 (SO)

Spooner Shootout Magic: Toronto 2, New York 1 (SO) by Melissa Burgess

Natalie Spooner scored twice in the shootout after PWHL New York tied the game late, sealing a 2-1 win for Toronto on Friday at Mattamy Athletic Centre.

What happened?

Friday's game was a relatively quiet one, without much offensive spark for the first 45 minutes. There were plenty of blocked shots, shots from the perimeter and plays broken up by opponent sticks along the way. Both teams were strong on the penalty kill, with Toronto killing all four and New York killing three. (Toronto also has the best penalty kill in the league, so this isn't exactly a surprise, but New York's power play is second in the league, so perhaps it is.)

Finally, Emma Maltais scored her second of the season to open the scoring at 12:34 of the third period. The goal came as a result of Toronto's forecheck in the neutral zone, which forced a turnover. Blayre Turnbull quickly carried the puck back and appeared poised to shoot it herself, but threw a saucer pass to Maltais at center instead. She picked the low corner on the right side of the net to beat Corinne Schroeder and make it 1-0.

As time ticked down, it certainly appeared as though Toronto was going to win in regulation on Maltais' goal, but that all changed with 7.2 seconds left. With the extra attacker on, New York tied the game on Ella Shelton's fourth of the season. Alex Carpenter got the puck up to Emma Woods, who sent it to Shelton, flying in behind the play and making her way to the front of the net. She quickly switched from her forehand to the backhand and back again, tipping the puck in top-shelf and ending Kristen Campbell's shutout streak at 121:16.

After a not-very-dangerous overtime – each team managed just one shot on goal – the teams faced a shootout. Natalie Spooner scored twice, the only goals, to give Toronto the victory. Spooner's goals came top-shelf on the backhand, then on the forehand, over the goaltender's pad.

Other shooters included: Victoria Bach, Elizabeth Giguère, Alex Carpenter, Lauriane Rougeau, Abby Roque, Maltais and Emma Woods.

Three up, three down

↑ Five in a row – Toronto has now won five in a row, a new franchise-high and league-high streak. In a season so short, every game matters that much more, and to string together five wins is impressive. Their last loss came back on January 23. They'll look to make it six when they visit Minnesota on Tuesday for a game at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

 Officiating consistency – I get that it's season one, and a short season at that, but the PWHL has to get its officials to be more consistent about what's ruled a penalty and what isn't. In particular, one that stood out Friday was Sarah Nurse's hooking call in overtime.

↑ Natalie Spooner – I can't say it enough! We're getting to watch Natalie Spooner play arguably her best hockey, and it's such a treat. Though she was technically kept off the scoresheet during the game, she came in clutch in the shootout and scored twice to seal the win.

↓ Blocked shots? – There were a fair amount of blocked shots in Friday's game, but the only way to track them is to see them listed in the play-by-play – they don't show up in individual player stats, or on the shot location chart that the league provides. It would be great to get these blocked shot locations and make it easier to track players' game and season totals in blocks.

↑ Honoring the past – Really nice to see PWHL Toronto host and recognize members of the PHF's Isobel Cup-winning Toronto Six team. Three players from the championship team skated in Friday's game, with 30 other members of the team (players, staff, etc.) also in attendance.

↓ Okay, that was weird – If you listen closely to the video above, you'll hear Toronto sort of squeeze together an acknowledgment of some prominent historic BIPOC members of the Toronto Six, in the midst of the championship recognition - almost like they've tried to squeeze together something for Black History Month with the Isobel Cup team recognition. It's all fine and good, but they mentioned Mikyla Grant-Mentis, who, while certainly a Black alumni of the Six, was not on the championship team; she played for the Buffalo Beauts last season. Maybe it's an honest mistake, and they probably had good intentions, but... MGM never won the Isobel Cup, and sadly, never will. (Sorry for the pinch of reality.)

VP's Player of the Game

Jessie Eldridge – The New York forward registered a team-high and game-high six shots on goal. She tied her season high, having also recorded six shots in the team's January 10th game against Montreal. Eldridge is fourth in the PWHL in shots this season; only Natalie Spooner, Grace Zumwinkle and Alex Carpenter have more. Eldridge has eight points in 12 games.

(Photo: Heather Pollock/PWHL)