A sold-out crowd. A historic puck drop. A new era for women’s hockey.
The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) kicked off its inaugural season on January 1, 2024, to ring in the new year.
“It’s going to be the first time in women’s hockey that all the best players in the world have a centralized place to play,” said New York forward Madison Packer. “It’s a league that’s not going anywhere.”
Toronto hosted New York in an exciting 4-0 win for the away side. New York had nine different players involved in goal contributions with four different goal scores and five different assisters.
With a game like this to start the season, it is only up from here. This season is going to be exciting from start to finish. Rivalries are going to be formed and goals are going to be scored.
A big shot from Ella Shelton started the game for New York. Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell came up with a huge save to keep the game even.
New York was strong in the opening five minutes, the chemistry between the team palpable. Another close call came for Toronto when Abby Roque made her appearance known on the ice but yet again, Campbell was there.
Toronto countered the New York pressure well but struggled with the final pass and shot. Samantha Cogan was finally able to get the first strong chance for Toronto ten minutes into play. Corrine Schroeder was able to deflect the shot out of the posts.
Schroeder came up big just a few seconds later when Toronto had a fast break from Natalie Spooner who sent it right into the gloves of the New York goaltender.
At 10:43, the first-ever goal of the PWHL came off of a face-off. Ella Shelton sent the puck right into the back right corner of the net to send New York up 1-0 and mark a moment in history.
Just two minutes later New York went on the power play after a slashing call was given to Toronto’s’ Rebecca Leslie. While they were able to get a few shots off, none hit the back of the net.
A hooking call against New York sent Toronto on their first major advantage of the match with a power play of their own. Jesse Compher had a short-handed shot as the power play came to a close but it was called no goal as Schroeder collected it.
Toronto picked up speed in the final five minutes of period one, getting multiple close opportunities from both Sarah Nurse and Emma Maltais.
With 0.9 seconds left in the first period of play, a second penalty was called against Jessie Eldridge of New York to give Toronto the advantage at the beginning of the second.
The teams headed into the locker room with New York up 1-0 and holding the lead in shots on goal with 13.
“The emotions are just surreal right now,” said New York forward Ella Shelton. “This crowd and coming to play your first professional in 2024, it’s quite the bang to start off the year”
Period two started quickly with Toronto on the power play getting off a quick shot. However, they were not able to get on the board as Eldridge rejoined the ice for New York.
The physicality of the match picked up as Toronto battled for a goal. Schroeder held strong in between the posts with massive stops but the home side was relentless as their efforts built.
Maltais and Renata Fast were all over the ice for Toronto, both involved in most of the scoring opportunities.
A quick 20 minutes passed with no penalties or goals for either team, keeping the score 1-0 for New York. Toronto outshot New York 16-4 on goals but nothing was getting past Schroder who had 24 saves at the end of two periods.
“I think that second period was a good show of what this team can do,” said Toronto captain Blayre Turnbull.
Toronto started period three with pressure, searching for the tying goal. But it was not enough as Alex Carpenter scored the second for New York.
After assisting Sheltons’ goal in the first period, Carpenter was able to slot back a goal of her own to make the score 2-0 at 2:53. Peyton Levis and Chloe Aurard each tallied an assist on the goal, getting their first points of the season.
Just two minutes later, at 4:57, Jill Saulnier added the third for New York with another snipe into the back of the net. Aurard notched a second assist along with Jade Downie-Landry getting her first point.
Kayla Vespa sealed the deal with a fourth goal for New York assisted by Alexandra Labelle and Jamie Bourbonnais at 7:42.
Another chance for Toronto as they went onto another power play from a hooking call against New York. Saulnier joined Eldridge in the penalty box a moment later giving Toronto a two-man advantage with a 5-on-3.
The final minutes of the game dwindled with Toronto getting a few more shots but were ultimately unable to get past Schroder. After an exciting 60 minutes of play, New York secured the first-ever PWHL win.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Without a doubt, Corinne Schroder was the player of the match. She made 30 saves to keep a hungry Toronto out of the posts.
She was steadfast and strong in the net, anticipating every shot. Not only did she see the shots coming at her, but she held onto them to limit the rebounds for Toronto to try to sneak one in.
WHERE TO WATCH
All games can be watched on the PWHL Official YouTube. In Canada, games can be watched on CBC, TSN, RDS, and Sports Net. In the United States, games can be watched on MSG Networks and NESN depending on the region.