PWHL Toronto Players Reflect On The Season That Was

PWHL Toronto's Blayre Turnbull and Minnesota's Sophie Jaques fight for the puck
Photo credit: PWHL

PWHL Toronto started the season by losing four out of their first five games. They finished the season by losing three games in a row in a reverse sweep to PWHL Minnesota.

But in between those disappointments was a magical season, including an 11-game winning streak, the first team to qualify for the playoffs, becoming the regular-season champion, and boasting the league’s leading scorer and probable MVP, Natalie Spooner.

At the end of the season, the players reflected on their inaugural experience in the league.

Veteran defender Jocelyn Larocque said,

“Honestly, it’s been a fantastic season. Getting to know the players, the staff, playing in a true professional league, it’s everything I dreamed of as a little kid, wanting to play professional hockey, so to be able to do it was great, and the group that we have, it’s a special group to be a part of, so there’s a lot to be proud of.

“It’s been top-notch, and the really great thing is that every year it’s going to get better and better. To think this is only year one and the crowds, the fan support, the players, people watching, it’s incredible. The group that we have here is phenomenal. I know the group’s going to get better and better so it’s great to be a part of the first year but I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”

Her defense partner Renata Fast had this to say:

“It was so special, what a year, how much fan support we had was incredible, they really made the experience what it was for us as players. That Scotiabank game was one of the highlights of the season for me, growing up around the area, and going to Leafs games at that arena. It was special to see the support and what was built, the fan base that we’re hopefully continuing to build. We can’t thank them enough because they really made this year what it was.”

She added that there is disappointment among the group:

“I think there’s a lot we can take away from this season and the way the group kicked off the PWHL and built a franchise in Toronto. Obviously, we really wanted to play for that Walter Cup and it’s a disappointing result, especially after our regular season, the success that we had, but I think we can still hold our heads pretty high from what this group accomplished and the start of the incredible league and an incredible franchise.

“I think from a player perspective, we need to look at ourselves and realize the opportunity that was in front of us, being up two games and being the top seed going into the playoffs and not getting the job done. I think that has to hold a place in us and that feeling of disappointment but I still think that overall there’s so much to be celebrated in a year like this and what we were able to do.

“We had some players that had some incredible individual accomplishments, like Natalie Spooner, and there are some things we can take away that are positives, but I also think it’s also a huge learning moment, and I think that that disappointment of this series will sit with us through the summer.”

Losing Natalie Spooner in Game Three of their playoff series was a huge turning point for PWHL Toronto. Forward Sarah Nurse (who played with a broken finger in the series herself) commented:

“I think that anytime you lose a player it’s horrible, to lose a player like Spooner was horrible. I think what we tried to do collectively was take on what Spooner brought and what she did. She was consistent, she was hard to play against, she put pucks to the net, and it didn’t fall to one player to try to be Natalie Spooner because there’s only one of her. I think we all just needed to collectively step up and elevate our games and although we didn’t get the results we wanted, I think the group did a great job of trying to fill that void a little bit.”

Finally, captain Blayre Turnbull summed up the season:

“I think as a team we laid a really good foundation this year of what type of team we want to be. I think we were hard to play against, and we played a really tough and gritty game for most of our games this season which is part of our identity. But I think overall, we lacked a bit of scoring when it mattered.

“Obviously, in the playoffs, we came up short, but I like where our team is at right now, and I think we did a great job this year of building the foundation of who we are as a team and as a franchise, and I’m excited to see what pieces we add to the puzzle at the draft and take it from there.”

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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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