Among the most accomplished skaters from Canada’s Capital Region, Lindsay Eastwood never forgot her hometown roots. A captain with the Nepean Jr. Wildcats, winning a league championship, followed by the opportunity to play for Team Ontario and Canada’s U18 national team, Eastwood’s local glories set the stage for a great career.
Starring as captain of the Syracuse Orange, enjoying the first conference championship in program history, the prodigious blueliner graduated to the professional ranks. Proud to play for Canada’s first ever franchise in the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), a proud brush with history made a profound impression back home.
A charter member of the Toronto Six, scoring their first ever goal, Eastwood quickly established herself as both, fan favorite and defensive mainstay. An essential figure in the Six remaining among the league’s postseason favorites, an appearance at the 2022 PHF All-Star Game stood as testament to her talents. Such a highlight not only contriibuted to the franchise narrative of Canadian hockey heroines, simultaneously, it burnished a local legacy.
In a career filled with so many milestones, 2023 saw the culmination of three years in the professional ranks defined by sweat and sacrifice. After several near misses in prior postseasons, Eastwood and the Six captured an elusive championship, staking their claim atop the proud summit. Defeating the Minnesota Whitecaps in the Finals, hoisting the Isobel Cup proved highly satisfying.
With such prestigious standing as champion, all members of the glorious Six enjoyed the privilege of a handful of days with the Cup. Opting to spend her time in the Capital with Izzy, as the Cup is colloquially known among its winning recipients, the opportunity truly presented an opportunity to come full circle.
“It was awesome. I grew up here and played here. Bringing the Cup back and sharing it with the young players warms my heart. To display the Cup, especially with no professional women’s team in Ottawa, I am hoping it will grow the game here too.”
Among the notable events with the Cup, Eastwood spoke to students of Sarah Thompson’s High Performance Program at the Richcraft Sensplex. Worth noting, Eastwood and Thompson share several unique parallels. Entering her fourth of season of hockey with Syracuse this autumn, Thompson, also the founder of Sticks Together, played for the Wildcats and wore the Maple Leaf with the U18 National Team.
Sharing her own story, including the revelation of not being medically eligible to play in her freshman season at Syracuse, Thompson retained a focus on athletics. Training as a rower, while making studies a priority, Eastwood emphasized to her audience that the selection criteria for a university needs to go beyond the game itself. Her experience as a redshirt demonstrated the importance of finding a postsecondary institution where the overall experience is enjoyable, as the game comprises only part of the experience.
Also sharing her experiences as a professional, discussing the need to balance the game with an occupation, Eastwood remained positive. Optimistic that the current generation of young players, including Thompson’s students, shall enjoy greater opportunities as professionals, perhaps a new league becoming as popular as the WNBA (basketball) and the NWSL (soccer), Eastwood’s graciousness concluded by allowing the students an opportunity to have a photograph taken with the Cup. Worth noting, the following day resulted in another photo opportunity with the Cup, enhanced by an assortment of game-worn jerseys, including the Six inaugural season plus her All-Star jersey for a display that thrilled fans of all ages at the Bonnecherre Museum in Eganville, Ontario.
“Honestly, it was really nice. It seemed like they were paying attention and I got a reaction from most of them. It was great to share my story with them, and I hope to motivate them to pursue their dream of playing in university. Maybe we can also switch the narrative and inspire them to play pro. To give them another option to add to their list of goals.”
During the road to the Cup, a special opportunity for Eastwood to experience a proud connection to her lineage occurred. With the Six facing off versus the Connecticut Whale in the semifinals, the Mattamy Athletic Centre located inside Maple Leaf Gardens served as home ice.
Worth noting, her uncle Mike Eastwood, born on the day of Canada’s Centennial, broke into the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs. A local star with the Nepean Raiders and Pembroke Lumber Kings, his first NHL goal took place during the 1992-93 season, which saw the Leafs emerge as Norris Division champions. As a side note, he was also a charter member of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Serendipitously, Lindsay is not the only women’s ice hockey star to enjoy a unique connection to that celebrated 92-93 Leafs team. The daughter of playoff hero Bill Berg, Annie, earned recognition as a U Sports All-Canadian forward, while playing for Brock University. Akin to Lindsay, she also wore the Canadian U18 jersey.
With the deciding game of the series between the Six and the Whale taking place on Gardens ice, Eastwood left her mark. Collaborating with Kati Tabin, both logged the assists on the game winning goal, scored by Michela Cava, allowing the Six to become the first Canadian team to play for the Isobel Cup.
“Playing at Maple Leaf Gardens was pretty cool. My father spotted his picture on one of the walls, which is pretty special. Growing up, I always liked to pick his brain and ask him about different aspects of the sport. Overall, it was a great job of renovating the arena and to be on the ice there was very enjoyable.”
With the next chapter comprising an exciting role as Manager of Communications and Team Services with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers, Eastwood is poised to succeed. Having always brought a pleasant demeanor and team first approach to the rink, such values were evident in roles as an Associate Producer at Sportsnet and with Social Media content with the Ford FANatic program.
Undoubtedly, Eastwood possessed enough of a superb skillset to continue competing for many more seasons. As the Isobel Cup provides a dazzling denouement, an exclamation point to a career that only a championship can provide, reflections on the opportunity to wear the Six jersey encompass an experience beyond individual numbers.
Finding a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment in belonging to such a talented roster, a group of wondrous athletes that maintained the standing of professional women’s ice hockey in Canada’s sporting conversation, Eastwood always looked towards the bigger picture. With a strong focus towards growth and sustainability, one of the defining features of playing for the Six involved postgame autograph sessions, a staple throughout PHF arenas. Always inscribing words of inspiration to complement her signature, such extra care brought a highly personal value to such a keepsake, reflecting a character that made Eastwood a valued friend, teammate and all-around role model.
“Really, what I enjoyed most was just being part of a team. To be part of one common goal and helping to inspire the next generation of players. We would do autographs after games and I would always put a message on the picture to try and inspire the girls to play hockey. It was an outreach we provided to help grow the game.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”