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Spooner overtakes Poulin for PWHL goal-scoring lead as Toronto thumps Minnesota

High-scoring Toronto forward Natalie Spooner did her part to set up the next meeting between Spooner and Montreal’s Marie-Philip Poulin on Feb. 16.

Spooner scored twice, set up another goal to spearhead Toronto to a 4-1 home win against Minnesota on Saturday, and snatch the Professional Women’s Hockey League goal-scoring lead from Poulin.

Her two-goal outing gives Spooner four goals in two games and seven in her first nine PWHL games. Poulin has six in eight games, with an opportunity to increase her total against Boston on Sunday.

“I don’t know if I want to bet against her,” Spooner said when asked if she and Poulin had a friendly wager on who would score more goals in the inaugural PWHL season.

The two Canadian national team teammates communicated with each other in the season’s first six weeks.

“She sent me a text after my last game,” Spooner said. “Maybe she’ll send me another after this one.”

WATCH l Spooner’s 3-point game powers Toronto to 2nd straight win:

Toronto takes down Minnesota behind Spooner’s 3 points

The Scarborough, Ont. native now leads the PWHL with seven goals after a three-point effort in Toronto’s 4-1 win.

On Feb. 16, Toronto and Montreal will play at Scotiabank Arena, the Maple Leafs’ home.

Toronto hopes to set a record for the largest PWHL crowd. Minnesota has a grasp on the current record after 13,316 showed up for its home opener.

“We should take a lot of confidence into that game from this game,” Spooner said.

Toronto (4-5-0) won its second in a row and third in the last four against Minnesota (5-2-2) and avenged a 3-1 loss in Minnesota on Jan. 10.

“I think we’re trending in the right direction,” Toronto coach Troy Ryan said.

Spooner tipped home a Jocelyne Larocque in the third period, 16 seconds after she set up captain Blayre Turnbull for Toronto’s third goal.

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Toronto goalie Kristen Campbell, making her league-leading eighth start, earned her third win in three starts as Toronto outshot the visitors 28-25.

Fast scores 1st PWHL goal

Renata Fast, known for her stingy defensive play, scored her first PWHL to put Toronto ahead for good late in the second period.

With the game even at 1-1, a loose puck squirted to Fast in the high slot, and her wrist shot found its way through several players with 2:45 remaining.

With Toronto on the power play, Sarah Nurse slid the puck Spooner off the rush. Minnesota netminder Nicole Hensley made the initial stop, but Spooner followed her shot to knock in the rebound with 53.4 seconds left in the first period.

Spooner missed an excellent opportunity to break the ice with the game 5:45 old. But facing an open net, she fired her own rebound over the crossbar.

Minnesota drew even with a strange goal midway through the second period. With Minnesota rushing into Toronto’s end, the stick of Minesota’s Abby Boreen got tangled in the skates of Toronto defenceman Jocelyne Larocque, causing the latter to fall.

This gave Minnesota’s Kelly Pannek a path to pass the puck to Kendall Coyne Schofield, who redirected the pass for her third goal.

10-day break for Rivalry Series

The PWHL begins a 10-day break on Monday for three games in the Canada-United States Rivalry Series, with stops in Saskatoon on Wednesday, Regina on Friday and St. Paul, Minn. on Feb. 11.

Fifteen players from the Toronto-Minnesota game will suit up for Canada and the United States.

The Canadian contingent includes Spooner, Nurse, Fast, Larocque, Turnbull and Emma Maltais (Toronto).

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Playing for the U.S. will be Hensley, Pannek, Schofield, Kali Flanagan (Toronto), Jesse Compher (Toronto), Natalie Buchbinder (Minnesota), Taylor Heise (Minnesota), Grace Zumwinkle (Minnesota) and Clair DeGeorge (Minnesota).

The full schedule of PWHL games airing on CBC Sports this season is available here.

WATCH l CBC Sports’ Andi Petrillo catches up with Minnesota’s Heise:

Andi Petrillo catches up with PWHL Minnesota forward Taylor Heise

The PWHL’s number one pick Taylor Heise talks to Andi Petrillo about the 3 on 3 showcase and her fandom with pop star Tate McRae.

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