Friday, 8 January 2016

Scoring Spooner earns nod as CWHL’s Player of the Month for December 2015

After logging just three points in the month of October and four during November, Natalie Spooner regained her smooth scoring touch in December with a 12-point output that roared her into the scoring race. Currently, her 21 points trails leading scorer Marie-Philip Poulin of Les Canadiennes de Montreal by just one point in the race for the Angela James Bowl, as Spooner attempts to become the first Furies player ever to capture the prestigious honor.

In addition, her 15 goals lead all skaters in CWHL play. Surprisingly, not one is a game-winning tally. Complementing her league-best 15 goals, she is also the leader in power play goals with five. Among her Furies teammates, she is seven points up on the team’s second leading scorer, alternate captain Alyssa Baldin.

Heading into holiday break, Spooner assembled a masterful five-game scoring streak (Nov 29-Dec 20) which saw the Furies capture three victories. Scoring a league-best 10 goals during this stretch, her remarkable accomplishment was complemented by four assists, for a 14-point effort that may prove to be a key turning point in the Furies season. Of note, said victories added distance between them and the Boston Blades for the final playoff spot.
Among her remarkable performances her December, her finest may also stand as the greatest in Furies franchise history. Assembling one of the greatest displays of offensive brilliance, it was part of a December to remember for Spooner.
Competing at the Olds Arena in the municipality of Olds, Alberta, the fans in attendance were treated to a true world class display of superlative talent. Competing against the host Calgary Inferno, the result was an impressive six-point yield.
Despite the Inferno outshooting the Furies in the first period by a 14-6 margin, it was Spooner who set the tone as she logged the first two goals of the game. As a side note, Kelly Terry would log assists on both goals while veterans Michelle Bonello and Kori Cheverie each registered one assist.
At the 7:02 mark of the second stanza, Elana Lovell tie game for the Inferno. A former competitor with the Calgary Dinos at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level, she has proven to be a revelation this season. Not only does she continue to be the leading scorer rookies, she trails Spooner and Poulin for third in the race for the Angela James Bowl.
Spooner would reply with three unanswered goals, giving her five overall in the game, while anchoring the Furies offense in front of an awed capacity crowd in Olds. Accomplishing this in a span of merely four minutes and six seconds, the Furies jumped out to a commanding 5-2 lead.
All three of Spooner’s unanswered goals in the second stanza were scored at even-strength, while the second goal in this stretch was unassisted. Following her unassisted tally, All-Star goaltender DeLayne Brian was removed from the game, replaced by Kathy Desjardins, who was unable to calm the raging performance.
Just 41 seconds following her fifth (and final) goal of the game, Spooner and Katie Gaskin would log the assists on a goal scored by Sena Suzuki, which was also the first of her CWHL career. As a side note, Suzuki became the first Japanese player selected to compete in a CWHL All-Star Game.   
As the Inferno managed a pair of power play goals in the third period, scored by Brittany Esposito and Hayleigh Cudmore, the Furies saw their lead slowly evaporate. With an empty net, the Inferno’s gamble paid off, as Jessica Campbell scored with an extra attacker on the ice. Goaltender Christina Kessler faced 22 shots in the third period, working tirelessly to ensure that Spooner’s efforts would not be in vain.
Luckily, Spooner’s four point outburst in the second period proved to be the difference. IN addition, Suzuki’s first career CWHL goal also stood as the game winning tally. Had the Inferno managed to tie the game and force a shootout, Spooner would have likely managed more heroics, taking into account her hot hand during this Sunday afternoon. Along with Baldin, Spooner had a game-high +4 in the contest.
It was only fitting that Spooner and her Furies teammates earned the opportunity to begin 2016 with a televised match on Rogers Sportsnet. Despite being bested by their crosstown rivals Brampton Thunder by a 3-0 shutout win, the greater victory was the opportunity to display their exceptional skills in front of a national audience.
As Spooner continues to be the franchise player for the Furies, and one of the CWHL’s most popular players, she is the It Girl for women’s hockey in Canada. Testament to her popularity was the fact that she was one of the Furies on-hand for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies Women’s Hockey Day celebrations, participating in the ceremonial puckdrop.

Signing autographs for an eager number of young fans in attendance, which consisted of several minor girls teams, Spooner is inspiring an entire new generation of girls to lace up their skates and emulate her already impressive list of successes, including an impressive December 2015.
Image obtained from

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