PWHL New York

PWHL Toronto edges New York in overtime North of the Border

Two days after an emotional overtime victory over PWHL Montreal, PWHL New York was on the road to face PWHL Toronto-- the same team they opened their season against.

Friday was the fourth meeting of the 2023-24 PWHL season between PWHL NY and Toronto. The game took place at Mattamy Athletic Centre, where Ella Shelton scored the first goal in league history on Jan. 1. That season opener had intensity and excitement and so did this one.

First Period Between Evenly Matched Teams

This was a goaltending duel as neither team could crack the opposing goaltender. Corinne Schroeder played very steady but her rival and fellow Manitoban at the other end of the ice, Kristen Campbell would be every bit her equal.

Just four minutes into the game, PWHL NY's Abby Roque was flagged for a roughing penalty, but her teammates did a great job killing off that first penalty of the game. At 17:08, PWHL Toronto took their first penalty of the game when Brittany Howard was flagged for body checking. Just as Toronto did on their first power play, New York could manage only one shot on goal and the two teams headed into the first intermission locked in a scoreless tie.

Looking for an Edge in the Second Period

If the first period was intense, the second period was twice as much. The action could be described as a "Track meet" which is when both teams are trading odd man rushes. This makes for exciting ice hockey to watch but also a big headache and tension for each teams' defense.

At one point midway through the period, PWHL NY had a grade-A scoring chance. Jade Downie-Landry carried the puck into the offensive zone. She then slipped a pass into the low slot for Alex Carpenter who shot the puck quickly but Campbell was able to save it. 

A minute later, PWHL NY's Kayla Vespa took a slashing penalty and this was a harder kill for the New York penalty killing unit. Toronto had six shot attempts on the ensuing power play but New York blocked five of them during what ended up being a heroic penalty kill that may have set the tone for this game.

Toronto may have come up short on their power play opportunities up to this point but they weren't going to quit shooting the puck. When Sarah Nurse won a faceoff for Toronto at 14:28, Rebecca Leslie took a shot that Schroeder just managed to save. Seven seconds later, Schroeder had to be ready to stop another shot on goal.

For the second consecutive period, PWHL Toronto slimly outshot New York, this time by 11-9 and at the end of two periods of play, held a sizable 23-18 advantage. Nevertheless, the hosts had not found the scoresheet yet thanks to a gritty performance from New York's blueline led by their top pairing of Shelton and Johanna Fallman.

Third Period Drama

The first ten minutes of the third were more of the same. However, PWHL NY produced a scoring chance when a point shot through a screen produced a rebound and the rebound was picked up by Jessie Eldridge who turned and shot but Campbell was able to make the save. Things got chippy when at 10:00 of the third period, Jade Downie-Landry took a shot and Eldridge went to the net for the rebound and was thrown to the ice by Toronto's Jesse Compher, but there was no call. 

At long last, PWHL Toronto scored first when Emma Maltais poked in a rebound in front of Schroeder at 12:34. Toronto kept New York at bay for the rest of the period but with about 4:00 on the clock remaining in the game, the goal scorer, Maltais took a penalty when she checked Micah Zandee-Hart to the ice, but New York did nothing with the power play. 

In the final minute of regulation, it looked as if New York would go out without a whimper but then one of their leaders, Ella Shelton received a pass in front of the net from Emma Woods and deposited the puck top shelf and into the net. New York had tied it and sent the game to overtime with eight seconds remaining. 

Overtime and Shootout

New York got another power play in the five-minute overtime period, which gave them a four-on-three man advantage. However, Toronto showed why they have the best penalty-killing in the league again by killing this off and preventing many Grade-A scoring chances from happening. The game went to a shootout, where New York found no luck.

After Schroeder made a great save on Toronto's first shootout attempt, PWHL NY forward Elizabeth Giguere attempted a backhand that was stopped by Campbell. On the next attempt, Toronto's Natalie Spooner skated in with speed and scored a backhand deke to put the hosts out in front.

New York couldn't convert on the next three chances it had before Spooner scored on the ninth attempt, which won the game for the hosts. On her attempts, Spooner came in with speed and made a successful deke before the goaltender could react. This time however, she deked to her forehand and flipped the puck over Schroeder's outstretched left pad to give Toronto their sixth win and second shootout victory of the season.

Ella Shelton was the Third Star of the game and the Discover Player of the Game, while Natalie Spooner took home second and Kristen Campbell the winning goaltender was the first star. Schroeder saved 28 of 29 shots and could have easily been the first star had her team won.

Perhaps this being the team's third straight overtime game took its toll on the visitors. Alas, they came away with a point which was good enough to keep them one point ahead of PWHL Boston in fourth place.

PWHL NY will hit the ice again on Feb. 28 at 7:00 pm against PWHL Ottawa at TD Place in a rematch of Feb. 4's comeback victory on the road in Ottawa.

Anthony Paradiso
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