PWHL

'It's a big loss': PWHL Toronto lose Natalie Spooner for rest of the playoffs with knee injury

PWHL Toronto will have another chance to move on to the Walter Cup final on Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET) after it was announced the league's leading regular-scorer Natalie Spooner will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

League's leading regular-season scorer suffered injury in Game 3 vs. Minnesota

A hockey player skates with the puck.
PWHL Toronto forward Natalie Spooner, pictured during a 2024 regular-season game, took a hit from Minnesota forward Grace Zumwinkle in Game 3 on Monday night. (Heather Pollock/PWHL Toronto)

PWHL Toronto will have another chance to move on to the Walter Cup final on Wednesday night, but the team will have to win without arguably its best player.

Natalie Spooner will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered in Game 3 against Minnesota, the team announced on Wednesday morning.

Spooner took a hit from Minnesota forward Grace Zumwinkle in front of her team's bench during the third period of Toronto's 2-0 loss on Monday. She remained down on the ice for several seconds before crawling to the bench and needing help to get down the tunnel. There was no penalty on the play.

WATCH | Spooner suffers season-ending injury in Game 3 against Minnesota:

Natalie Spooner leaves game with lower-body injury

1 month ago
Duration 0:25
PWHL Toronto's Natalie Spooner left the game with a lower-body injury in the third period of game three against Minnesota Monday night.

Spooner's injury is a massive loss for Toronto. The 33-year-old from Scarborough, Ont. was the league's leading scorer in the regular season, registering 27 points including 20 goals in 24 games — nine goals more than teammate Sarah Nurse and Zumwinkle, who tied for second in the goal-scoring race. Spooner also played a key role on Toronto's penalty kill.

In three playoff games, Spooner had a goal and an assist.

"It's a big loss for us, obviously Natalie has been an important part of our success all year," Toronto GM Gina Kingsbury said in a statement. "We have no doubt Natalie will continue to have an impact on our team, just in a different way."

With Spooner moved to long-term injured reserve, Toronto has activated forward Jess Jones from its reserve list. Jones didn't log a point over five games with Toronto in the regular season.

Spooner spent the last few games primarily playing on a line with captain Blayre Turnbull and Hannah Miller. Combined, those three have scored four of Toronto's six playoff goals.

In her absence, the coaching staff could elevate a player like Maggie Connors or Jesse Compher, who scored the winning goal in Game 2.

Toronto leads the best-of-five series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Wednesday (8 p.m. ET) in Minnesota.

The winner of the series will face Boston the best-of-five Walter Cup championship.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karissa Donkin is a journalist in CBC's Atlantic investigative unit. You can reach her at karissa.donkin@cbc.ca.

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