Unstoppable PWHL Toronto Wins Nine On The Bounce As They Continue To Gather Momentum

By Leslie Gouin

March 15th, 2024



Toronto’s Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) team, now on a winning streak of nine games, beat Montreal in a hotly contested and physical game last Friday. The contest was marked by several scuffles, with six players sent to the penalty box for roughing. Toronto’s Rebecca Leslie scored a double, while Hannah Miller and Emma Maltais also scored to seal the win.

At this point the six teams do not have names. The name of the city they represent is what appears on their jerseys.

Toronto’s latest win was their third straight against their rivals; the physicality and intensity of their rivalry were on full display.

Toronto’s Rebecca Leslie was checked hard into the boards in front of Montreal’s bench by Sarah Lefort, which led to a series of skirmishes and punches being thrown by players from both teams at one point. Leslie later doubled Toronto’s lead in the third period with her first goal of the season. The physicality of the game was likened to playoff hockey by Leslie, who said she expected the “tough stuff.”.

The Toronto team has been very strong – faces challenges from the Montreal team – creating a great rivalry.

“It’s a hard-fought game, that’s a really good hockey team and so I think that’s playoff hockey,” Leslie was quoted as saying.

“There’s going to be some tough stuff going on and obviously it felt good for my line to contribute in that way (offensively).”

While it is a cause for concern, the physicality across the PWHL makes for more excitement and could see added interest, with sports betting already becoming an avenue through which fans can invest in the games.

Montreal’s star player, Marie-Philip Poulin, admitted that payback would be in mind when the two teams face off again on March 17. She was obviously disappointed with the loss and said that the team was looking to avenge the losses they’ve suffered against Toronto this season. Poulin also commented on the lack of discipline she reckons is evident throughout the league and not just in Friday’s game.

“Obviously it’s going to be in the back of our mind, no doubt about that,” she remarked. “It’s been three games that we lose against them.”

Toronto forward Natalie Spooner spoke about the rivalry between the two teams, saying that it dates back quite a while, stemming from the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League. She pointed out that both teams were physical and fast and that this was evident in their style of play. Spooner also suggested that Montreal was probably their biggest rival so far in the new season.

“We’re both pretty physical (and) fast teams and I think today you saw it out there, the little scrums and everything,” she said. “The Toronto, Montreal rivalry even in the CWHL (now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League), I think dates back quite a while so I’m sure there’s still some of that blood kicking around a little bit, too.

“New league, new season, and I think it’s probably our biggest rival so far, for sure.”

Toronto’s Hannah Miller and Emma Maltais also scored in the game, with Maltais sealing the win with an empty-net goal with 1:06 left in the game. Montreal’s head coach, Kori Cheverie, conceded that Toronto had capitalized on their chances while Montreal had not. Cheverie also commented on a hit by Toronto’s Brittany Howard on Montreal’s Catherine Daoust, which caused her to stay down for a bit before going to the bench under her power. Cheverie was disappointed that the officials did not call the hit and said that she had asked for an explanation from them.

“They didn’t see it,” she said. “I just said, ‘when one of our players is coming back to the bench with a face full of blood with a cage in women’s hockey, something happened.’”

Montreal’s Marie-Philip Poulin scores against Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell (50) during second period PWHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, January 20, 2024. CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Montreal’s Poulin said that the game was physical and that the teams were trying to find that balance of staying within the rules while playing a hard, fast game. Toronto’s assistant coach, Rachel Flanagan, agreed with Poulin, saying that the game was more physical, and that the teams were all trying to find that balance between playing hard and staying within the rules.

“The game is more physical and we know that,” she offered. “We’re all trying to find that balance of where do we stay within the lines of the rules and play a really hard, fast game.”

The rivalry between Toronto and Montreal is still alive and well, even in the Professional Women’s Hockey League. Toronto’s winning streak now stands at nine games, and Montreal will be looking for payback when they meet again on March 17.

When the Toronto – Montreal teams meet in April at the Bell Centre in Montreal the crowd could exceed that of one of the NHL games

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