Eight is Great: Toronto 3, Boston 1
- 4 min read

Eight is Great: Toronto 3, Boston 1

Eight is Great: Toronto 3, Boston 1 by Melissa Burgess

PWHL Toronto extended its winning streak to an impressive eight games, including five straight on home ice, with a 3-1 win over PWHL Boston on Wednesday night. Natalie Spooner, who leads the team in scoring, recorded a goal and an assist. PWHL Toronto has now had a winning streak for one-third of the entire regular season.

What happened?

Toronto came out strong from the first puck drop, taking a 1-0 lead just 3:25 in. Sarah Nurse let the initial shot go, and Aerin Frankel gave up a big rebound in front. Allie Munroe got her stick on it, and the puck appeared to bounce off Frankel and soar into the net. Although the goal could have been reviewed for interference with the netminder, it was not reviewed, and Toronto nabbed an early lead. It was Munroe's first goal of the season.

Despite the deficit, Boston came to play, too. They did their best to keep Toronto's chances to the outside and force play to the corners, while Toronto limited Boston's zone time. Natalie Spooner would double her team's lead with her 12th goal of the season at 17:37 of the first period, stealing the puck off Jamie Lee Rattray's stick just inside the neutral zone. After picking it up, she skated to the net, chased by two opposing players, got Frankel to go down and shot a backhand in the top far corner.

After a relatively quiet first period, things picked up in the second period. Both teams had early chances, and Boston fumbled with multiple turnovers trying to get out of the neutral zone. Toronto began to take control, nabbing a 3-0 lead on Maggie Connors' goal at 16:34. On a good effort, Renata Fast picked up the puck as it bounced off the half wall, getting it back to Connors at the point. She carried it horizontally across the ice, then blasted a shot toward the net. Frankel was screened, and the puck may have been tipped.

Frankel was pulled to start the third after allowing three goals on 18 shots faced, giving Emma Söderberg her first game action in three weeks. Boston seemed to get a little spark from the change, getting chances early, but couldn't find the back of the net until it was just a little too late to mount a comeback. Jess Healey scored her first PWHL goal at 14:25 on a delayed penalty; Taylor Girard had the puck and was being taken down by a Toronto player, but managed to slide it back to Healey. She took the shot from the high slot and beat Kristen Campbell top-shelf.

Despite the minor blunder, Toronto held on and captured the 3-1 win. They haven't lost since January 23 and are three points back of PWHL Montreal for the league lead.

Three up, three down

↑ Home PK – Toronto's penalty kill on home ice continues to be outstanding, at 92.6 percent. It was perfect on Wednesday night, killing all three power play opportunities that had been afforded to Boston.

↓ Faceoffs – t was a rough night in the faceoff circle for Sarah Nurse. She took a game-high 21 draws, but won only four of them, just 19 percent. Thankfully, this is an outlier of a game for Nurse, who was 53.8 percent in the circle last game.

↑ Fast & Larocque – Toronto has relied heavily on the defensive pairing of Renata Fast and Jocelyne Larocque this season. The duo set the new top-two highs in time on ice on Wednesday, with Fast playing 39:20 and Larocque at 39:15. Before that, no player had eclipsed the 37-minute mark. It wasn't just Toronto, though; Boston also relied heavily on Megan Keller and Kaleigh Fratkin. Keller played 35:12 and Fratkin skated 33:58. Seven players between the two teams skated over 33 minutes.

↓ But are we too dependent? - While it's understandable for Toronto head coach Troy Ryan to rely heavily on Fast and Larocque, there has to be a way of balancing out the defense a bit more. Lauriane Rougeau played just 10:08, while Olivia Knowles played 4:44. Kali Flanagan (24:52) and Allie Munroe (23:37) were the team's other defenders. Is it sustainable to expect Fast and Larocque to play so many minutes? Wouldn't it perhaps be better to spread out the ice time a bit more, especially as the playoffs loom?

↑ An intriguing top line for Boston – Boston officially mixed up its top line Wednesday, putting Alina Müller with Susanna Tapani and Hilary Knight, which they started to do on the fly late in the team's last game. Boston's most common top line this season has seen Müller with Knight and Loren Gabel, but it's nice to see Tapani given an opportunity. She recorded five shots in Wednesday's loss, a team high, while skating 34:40, and has routinely led Boston's forwards in ice time since joining the team.

 Powerless play - Boston's power play has struggled so far this season. They've had a league-low 33 opportunities (Montreal has had the most, with 51), but have only managed to score two power play goals. That's just 6.1 percent. It's be nice to see their PP units find a rhythm and capitalize, and it could become a more critical part of the game as Boston fights to hold onto the fourth-place spot – the final playoff seed.

VP's Player of the Game

Jess Healey – Nice to see Jess Healey notch her first PWHL goal on Wednesday, her first pro goal since January 21, 2023 when she was a member of the Buffalo Beauts. Healey is a defender on Boston's third pairing; she had one goal, two penalty minutes and was a plus-1 in 12:54 ice time.

(Photo: Alex D'Addese/PWHL)