PWHL Toronto Players in the 2024 Women’s World Championship

Natalie Spooner and Emma Maltais of Team Canada win gold at the 2024 Women's World Championship
Photo: IIHF

The league’s most successful team sent seven players to the Worlds with the goal of winning it all. Will that success translate now to a first-ever PWHL championship?

With PWHL Toronto leading in the standings before the league took a two-week break for the World Championship, it seemed like an inopportune moment for the team to have time off. Most of them, anyway. Seven members of Toronto and Team Canada didn’t get downtime like the others – instead, they went with coach Troy Ryan and GM Gina Kingsbury to Utica to play for gold. 

All of them were key members of the championship-winning team that fought off a strong United States squad in a 6-5 overtime thriller in the final game, and bringing that winning experience back to the remaining games of the PWHL season will surely help them in the team’s quest for a historic first-ever Walter Cup.

Here’s a look at how each of them fared:

Renata Fast, D

This year’s tournament was surely the best for one-half of Toronto’s crucial defense pair. Fast got to play with her longtime partner, Jocelyne Larocque, and played a similar role for Canada – logging tons of ice time, chipping in important goals, and playing a savvy transition game all over the ice. Fast had 3 goals, 3 assists, and was +15. She was elevated to the first power play in the medal round (over Erin Ambrose) and looked confident with every stride. Her physical play, which has blossomed in the PWHL, was an important part of Canada’s success. Fittingly, she was named the tournament’s overall best defender.

Jocelyne Larocque, D

The oldest member of Team Canada showed a bit of possible fatigue at points, taking some penalties when her skating couldn’t keep up with some of the fast young USA forwards. However, one thing that hasn’t slowed down is her mind and her decision-making. Time and time again, shrewd positioning and reading the game a step ahead of her opponents put her in the right place to make defensive plays. Her +16 lead all players. She’s shown some untapped potential offensively as well and had five points in seven games. Toronto will need her to stay healthy down the stretch.

Natalie Spooner, F

The PWHL’s leading scorer had a quieter tournament than most expected. She only managed to tally one goal against Sweden in the quarter-final, to go with three assists. The line of Spooner, Emma Maltais, and Sarah Nurse stayed intact for the duration and showed no decline in chemistry. Spooner looked dangerous at times, and her play down low is unmatched among Canadian forwards. But Toronto will need her to revive her scoring touch if they hope to go far in the PWHL playoffs.

Emma Maltais, F

Toronto’s energizer and agitator took on her familiar role in Utica with Team Canada. Maltais used her speed and grit to fight off larger players and didn’t miss a beat from her impressive season in the PWHL. She also scored two goals in the round-robin but was quieter offensively when the elimination games took place.

Blayre Turnbull, F

The World Championship was a positive progression for Turnbull, who has, at times in the PWHL season, seemed frustrated. Perhaps being matched with Emily Clark and Laura Stacey on the third line suited her feisty play style and allowed her to more freely strike for offense when the play opened up. 

Otherwise, she stuck to her strengths: faceoffs, penalty killing, and mixing it up physically. Finding Turnbull an equivalent role with Toronto where she can flourish would be an important achievement for Coach Ryan.

Sarah Nurse, F

A power forward who can drive play, Nurse’s contributions aren’t always on the scoreboard, although she’s certainly capable of contributing numbers. However, in this year’s championship, she was called on to create straight-line shifts, keep the puck down low when necessary, set a physical tone, and take important draws. Her four points don’t tell the whole story, as keen observers could find moments in every game where her speed and smarts made a difference for Canada.

Kristen Campbell, G

The third goaltender for Canada, Campbell was part of the team in practice and on the bench only, in keeping with Ryan’s script of sticking with his top two netminders. But the experience surely was a positive one nevertheless, and Toronto will need her to get back into top form in a hurry. She is perhaps the most important player (and non-participant) of all seven who made the gold-medal journey and back.

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Cee Benwell

Longtime hockey player and fan, host of PWHL Puck Drop Podcast and GameDay Hockey on YouTube, X, hockey writer and proud supporter of women's hockey.

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