Professional Women’s Hockey League
Maintaining perspective has helped Toronto in working through a tough start to the Professional Women’s Hockey League season.
‘It’s hard because you don’t want to be a team that’s losing,’ said captain Turnbull
Abdulhamid Ibrahim · The Canadian Press
· Posted: Jan 15, 2024 8:41 PM EST | Last Updated: 12 hours ago
Toronto has gone 1-3-0 to begin its 24-game schedule. Above, Sarah Nurse (20), Kristen Campbell (50), Blayre Turnbull (40) and Jocelyne Larocque (3) talk after a 4-0 loss to New York. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)Maintaining perspective has helped Toronto in working through a tough start to the Professional Women’s Hockey League season.
Toronto has gone 1-3-0 to begin its 24-game schedule, losing both its home games, and only mustering five goals to 14 allowed. The team sits one point ahead of last-place Boston, which has played just two games so far. Toronto hosts Boston on Wednesday.
“It’s hard because you don’t want to be a team that’s losing,” Toronto captain Blayre Turnbull said after practice Monday. “But on the flip side of it, I’d rather go through this now than later in the season.
Turnbull said the team needs better attention to detail for a full 60 minutes. Meanwhile, forward Sarah Nurse said the team needs to turn its strength in puck possession into grade-A scoring chances.
The experience of the group, with several players having competed on the biggest stages internationally, in now defunct pro leagues or in the NCAA, plays a role in its confidence to rebound.
“We’ve got an older group that’s been through the highs and lows of hockey seasons, the highs and lows of Olympic Games, world championships, CWHL (Canadian Women’s Hockey League) playoffs,” Turnbull said. “We’ve got girls who’ve won and lost national championships.
“We have a ton of experience throughout our whole lineup and I think with experience, you go through adversity all the time and I think it’s about understanding and knowing that it doesn’t last forever and things will get better. You just have to stick to it and stick together.”
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Toronto dropped the league’s first-ever game at home, 4-0, to New York on Jan. 1. After defeating New York four days later on the road, Toronto fell 3-1 at Minnesota last Wednesday and 5-1 to Ottawa at home on Saturday.
“There was a lot emotion with that [home opener] that I don’t think anybody could’ve really prepared for even though we talked about it a lot,” said Nurse. “But the way that I see it, it’s four games into the season, I don’t really think there’s a reason to hit the panic button.
“I think that it’s an opportunity for us to really learn and go through a little bit of adversity that other teams aren’t going through right now.”
The early learning curve, though, is beyond what’s seen on the ice from Ryan’s vantage point.
“The one thing that’s been difficult is, there’s been a lot of nerves,” he said. “They’re playing pro hockey, they’re signing contracts — some are signing one-year deals, some are signing three, this is all new territory for them. So now they come here on a one-year contract like, ‘am I going to stay?’
“I think if we had a better start, everything becomes a little looser. Our group is really loose, if you see in practice, it’s very loose, relaxed, energetic, fun.
“They feel the pressure a little bit when they’re playing. So a lot of things just tend to snowball. The funny part, we’ve had some really good chats as a group, is that it can all end really quick. You just need a couple players to rise above it and stop some of the craziness.”
One positive is that the sluggish start hasn’t hurt the team’s camaraderie.
“Our locker room is one of the tightest I’ve ever been a part of this soon,” Nurse said. “We’ve only been together for two or so months and to be able to have the connection [and] chemistry off the ice is kind of crazy.
“And to be able to still hold that through tough losses and annoyances, different things like that, it’s pretty special. I think moving forward, that’s going to be a real strength of our group.”
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