Published March 9, 2024

Campbell, Toronto stay hot with ninth straight victory topping PWHL Montreal 3-0

PWHL Toronto / Montreal - CP

By Abdulhamid Ibrahim

The rivalry between Toronto and Montreal proved to be deep rooted on Friday, even in the Professional Women's Hockey League.

Kristen Campbell earned a 23-save shutout as Toronto extended its winning streak to nine games with a 3-0 victory over Montreal. The hotly-contested and physical game moved Toronto to 3-0-0 against Montreal and took spot in the PWHL from Montreal.

"We're both pretty physical (and) fast teams and I think today you saw it out there, the little scrums and everything," Toronto star forward Natalie Spooner 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."

With the two sides meeting again in nine days, Montreal star Marie-Philip Poulin didn't shy away from saying payback will be in mind.

"Obviously it's going to be in the back of our mind, no doubt about that," she said when asked of avenging the losses. "It's been three games that we lose against them."

Things got heated near the midway mark of the second period.

At 8:06, Toronto's Rebecca Leslie was checked hard into the boards in front of Montreal's bench by Sarah Lefort. Toronto's Allie Munroe took exception and it eventually led to punches being thrown across three separate skirmishes, and six players sent to the penalty box for roughing.

Leslie, Brittany Howard and Alexa Vasko were penalized for Toronto. Sarah Bujold, Lefort and Catherine Dubois were sent off for Montreal.

Then at 9:56, Toronto's Sarah Nurse rushed in toward the net but was driven straight into it — taking the goal out of place — by Tereza Vanisova as she tried to get a shot off. Another scuffle broke out but Vanisova was the only one penalized, going off for hooking.

Leslie, who later doubled Toronto's lead 3:47 into the third period with her first of the season, called it post-season hockey.

"Oh, what happened?" Leslie initially responded when asked if the goal felt better because of the scuffles. "It's a hard-fought game, that's a really good hockey team and so I think that's playoff hockey.

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

Later in the middle frame — in the middle of a scramble — Howard hit Catherine Daoust from behind causing her to stay down for a bit before going to the bench under her own power.

"They didn't see it," Montreal head coach Kori Cheverie said of whether the officials had an explanation for not calling it. "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.'"

Poulin said it's been a leaguewide matter in terms of hard hits and drawing the line on physicality, not just Friday. 

Toronto assistant coach Rachel Flanagan, who said she didn't see the Howard play while talking with other coaches, shared a similar sentiment.

"The game is more physical and we know that," she said. "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."

Hannah Miller and Emma Maltais, with an empty-net goal, also scored for Toronto (11-5-0), which has also won 10 of its last 11 games.

Elaine Chuli stopped 30 shots for Montreal (10-3-3).

"They capitalized on some of their chances and we didn't," Cheverie said. "So at the end of the day, that's the moral of the story."

Miller opened the scoring just 1:20 into the first period after burying a rebound on a Spooner wraparound shot attempt.

Montreal pulled Chuli with 3:22 remaining for an extra attacker, but to no avail. 

Maltais then buried an empty-netter with 1:06 left to seal the win.


The PWHL and Molson announced a multi-year partnership on Tuesday and the players wore special jerseys Friday for International Women's Day as part of Molson's "See My Name" initiative. 

The jerseys had "Molson" appear where player names usually would be and players' names below the numbers to allow better visibility for names instead of being covered by their hair.


Toronto will face Montreal on March 17 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Montreal hosts Ottawa on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2024

Banner image via The Canadian Press

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