The Toronto Furies march to the 2014 Clarkson Cup was nothing short of a modern day miracle on ice. One of the key contributors to the victory was none other than Natalie Spooner. While the victory shall bring Spooner the privilege of having her name engraved on the hallowed Cup, the reality is that Spooner accomplished something even greater.
Earlier in the year, Spooner was one of several new faces on the Canadian Winter Games team that clinched the gold medal at Sochi 2014. Following it up with the Clarkson Cup victory just a few weeks later, Spooner has now become the first woman in hockey history to capture Winter Games gold and the Clarkson Cup in the same year.
Nothing short of a Hall of Fame worthy accomplishment, the early months of 2014 have been a coming out party for Spooner. While Sochi certainly signified a new generation of female hockey stars, none is shining as brightly as Spooner.
Following in the footsteps of the likes of Cassie Campbell, Hayley Wickenhesier and Meghan Agosta, Spooner is carving a lasting legacy in the game. Certainly no stranger at making history, her first notable accomplishment was becoming the first player to be part of the Canadian National Under-18, Under-22 and Senior programs.
The opportunity to become the first player to grab Winter Games gold and the Clarkson Cup extends her remarkable legacy along with her growing impact as a role model. Heading into the Clarkson’s round robin, every team that had qualified had at least one player from Sochi’s gold medal roster. Of note, Caroline Ouellette was competing for the Montreal Stars. Goaltender Genevieve Lacasse was standing between the pipes for the Boston Blades while second-generation star Meaghan Mikkelson was leading the Calgary Inferno into their Clarkson Cup debut.
With the excitement and anticipation, fans knew that history would certainly be made at the 2014 edition of the Clarkson as someone would lay claim to becoming the first to win the gold and the Cup in the same year.
Considering that the Furies finished fourth in the regular season, the odds were stacked against them to win the Cup, let alone qualify for the finals. After forcing the regular season champion Montreal Stars to a shootout, skeptics quickly became believers. Spooner would deliver in the shootout as she buried the puck past CWHL goaltending champion Catherine Herron, allowing Toronto to qualify for the Cup finals while giving Spooner the chance to fulfill her destiny.
Playing against the defending Cup champion Boston Blades, a victory would prove to be hard earned. After a scoreless draw in regulation play, overtime would be required to settle things. Spooner and former WCHA rival Carolyne Prevost (only the third woman to play in back-to-back Clarkson Cups with two different teams) would earn the assists on Britni Smith’s Cup-winning tally just 33 seconds into the extra frame as Toronto prevailed in a pulse pounding 1-0 victory.
With the assist, Spooner would help her own cause in the historic feat of being the first woman to land Winter Games gold and the Clarkson in the same season. In addition, she emerged as the leading Canadian-born scorer at the Clarkson Cup with five points. During the round robin, she would also earn a pair of First-Star nods.
Although the Furies would become the first-ever fourth place team to capture the Clarkson, Spooner had the chance to make history twice in the same day. Heading into the Clarkson, only nine women had the rare privilege of having won the IIHF Women’s Worlds, Winter Games gold and the Clarkson.
Known as the Triple Gold Club for Women, the Clarkson victory provided Spooner with the final piece to the puzzle. Adding to the jubilation was the fact that two other Furies teammates had the opportunity to achieve the special milestone of Triple Gold as well.
Tessa Bonhomme, whose release from Canada’s Centralization Camp a few months earlier broke the hearts of many fans, would find redemption in a Cup win that brought her Triple Gold glory. CWHL co-founder Sami Jo Small not only became the third goaltender to earn Triple Gold status, but would become the oldest player to do so.
A few days following the Clarkson Cup victory, Spooner was still on the ice. She managed to squeeze in an appearance for the second consecutive year at the Juno Cup, a hockey all-star event featuring musicians from the recording industry along with hockey. In 2013, she was joined by former Canadian national team member Bailey Bram at the event. This year, she was joined by Rebecca Johnston as Spooner is helping to provide a strong female presence at the event.
On her way to becoming one of the new household names in women’s hockey, Spooner still has a lifetime of hockey in front of her. Her hockey journey to this point has resulted in a remarkable run that has inspired and amazed her devoted fans. Poised to become one of Canada’s next great female sporting heroes, she is a remarkable ambassador for the game of hockey.