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First Seed PWHL Toronto Out of the Finals as Minnesota Completes the Reverse Sweep

Courtesy of PWHL Toronto. 

It was an upsetting night for Toronto fans but not a quiet one as they continued to cheer for their team with a standing ovation even after Minnesota eliminated them from the Walter Cup Finals by a reverse sweep. 

Game five of the series completed Minnesota’s reverse sweep after starting the series down 2-0 against Toronto Friday night. The team was facing elimination from the playoffs after losing the final five games of the regular season and then the first two games of the playoff series. The team ultimately rallied together with belief in their locker room that led them to win the series and become possibly the first ever Walter Cup Champions. 

With a scoreless first period and the second period ending in a tie, things changed quickly in the third period. Minnesota’s Taylor Heise broke the tie with her goal on the a power play. Towards the end of the period, Heise and Sophia Kunin each scored an empty netter which led to the final score of 4-1. Minnesota rallied after being down 2-0 to win three games straight completing the reverse sweep getting them into the finals against Boston. 

Toronto faced its challenges throughout the series being without one of their key players, Natalie Spooner for games four and five. Spooner suffered a knee injury which ultimately took her out of the rest of the season and placed on long term injury reserve (LTIR). Spooner was a key part of Toronto’s offense, leading the league in goals scored during the regular season with 20 goals in 24 games played. Spooner is also one of the nominees for the PWHL awards for Forward of the Year. 

Courtesy of Alex D’Addese 

Minnesota’s Maddie Rooney, made scoring a challenge for Toronto as she shut the team out both in games three and four helping her team force a game five. Rooney showed to be a strong “backbone” to their team said by her teammate Grace Zumwinkle giving both her defense and forwards confidence on the ice. 

“She’s done a tremendous job for us and we’re really excited for what she can do,” said Heise. 

Toronto Head Coach Troy Ryan was joined by captain Blayre Turnbull and alternative captain Renata Fast after the game as they all agreed “the loss definitely stings.” 

“I really thought we could pull out a win,” Turnbull said. She talked about how it started to sink in at about 14 seconds left of the game when her team was down three goals that they weren’t going to be advancing through to the finals. 

“That’s as nice of a power-play shot as you’ll get,” said Ryan when asked about his thoughts on Heise’s power play goal. Despite having the best penalty kill in the league, Toronto couldn’t successfully kill the power play which gave Minnesota the upper hand in this game. 

UP NEXT: Minnesota will face Boston in the Walter Cup Championship this Sunday at 5pm ET.

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