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Sarah Nurse's Hat Trick Leads PWHL Toronto to Victory over PWHL New York

PWHL New York returned home to UBS Arena to take on the best team in the league, PWHL Toronto. Toronto came into this game fresh off a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over Montreal in front of a record-setting crowd of 21,105 at a sold out Bell Centre on April 20, making them the first team to clinch a playoff berth in PWHL history. New York’s last contest was a 5-2 loss to Montreal on April 24, which officially eliminated them from playoff contention this season.

Courtesy of Lily Karlin

It didn’t take long at all for Toronto to strike first. Sarah Nurse got a shot past New York goaltender Abbey Levy just a minute and five seconds into the game to score her eighth goal of the season, putting Toronto up 1-0. Emma Maltais and Kali Flanagan picked up the assists on the opening goal. Toronto dominated the play for most of the period, staying in New York’s zone and putting shots on net. Despite New York getting quite a few good scoring opportunities, Toronto’s goaltender Krsiten Campbell let nothing in. 

At 11:33 in the first period, Jill Saulnier was sent to the box for a tripping minor, putting Toronto on the power play. Nurse found the back of the net again, this time on the man advantage, to score her second of the game and ninth of the season, giving Toronto the 2-0 lead. 

Courtesy of Lily Karlin

The middle frame started similarly to the first. Jamie Bourbonnais went to the box for interference to put Toronto back on the power play once again. Although New York killed off the penalty, Toronto’s Alexa Vasko found a prime scoring chance and put her team up 3-0. Brittany Howard and Rebbeca Leslie got the assists on Vasko’s goal. Not even a minute and a half later, the league’s leading scorer, Natalie Spooner scored her 16th goal of the season to give Toronto the 4-0 lead. 

With just over five minutes left in the second period, Toronto’s Allie Munroe laid an open ice hit on New York’s Jessie Eldridge who immediately went to the locker room afterwards. Munroe received a two minute minor for roughing, giving New York a power play opportunity that Toronto killed off successfully. Toronto kept the pressure on for the remainder of the period while New York looked a bit disjointed as a team. 

Just 56 seconds into the final frame, Nurse scored her third of the contest to record her first hat trick in the PWHL. With that tally, Toronto got out to a 5-0 lead over New York with plenty of time to go in the third. Just after New York killed off a two minute penalty given to Jade Downie-Landry for roughing, Toronto capitalized once again as Rebecca Leslie scored to make the score 6-0. Abbey Levy was then pulled from net and Lindsey Post entered the game, making her first appearance with the PWHL New York squad.

Courtesy of Lily Karlin

But it wasn’t over for New York as Abby Roque finally got a shot past Campbell to get her team on the board. Even though Roque’s fifth tally of the season only made the score 6-1, it breathed a new kind of life into the New York team. They became relentless in the pursuit of the puck and spent significant time in Toronto’s zone. Within the last minute of play Brooke Hobson scored her first PWHL goal to make it 6-2 which ended up being the final score.

Nurse’s three goal performance and Campbell’s 31 saves led Toronto to a dominant victory and with the regulation win, Toronto clinched home ice advantage in the upcoming playoffs while New York is looking to bounce back on Tuesday when they face off against Ottawa on Tuesday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

“It’s pretty cool,” Nurse said when asked about her first PWHL hat trick. “Obviously I get to play with some pretty great players who put me in good positions to score. It feels good. I think from a scoring perspective, I don’t know if I’m the biggest goal scorer ever, but it’s nice to contribute in that way to this team.”

Despite the win, Toronto is aware that there are things that need to be changed in order to make a deep run in the playoffs. “There were things that we want to clean up. We’re gearing up to be in the playoffs right now so I think our mindset and mentality have to emulate that.” said Nurse. “Going into a playoff series, I don’t think the way that we played today is going to set us up for the most success.”

“I think that going into this playoffs, our group really should have the confidence. We’ve played, we’ve gone through this season, we’ve kind of managed those ups and downs. Throughout the playoff series, we want to continue to go up.” Nurse continued. “I don’t think we ever want to hit a ceiling. We talk about it all the time, we don’t want to hit that ceiling, we want to continue to get better so that we can be the best possible hockey team and represent our hockey team to the best of our abilities and ultimately be successful in the end.”

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