The fight for hockey supremacy in the Greater Toronto Area between the Toronto Furies and the Brampton Thunder may finally be settled through the acquisition of one player in the CWHL Draft: Natalie Spooner. Should the Brampton Thunder draft Spooner, it would put them in a position to usurp the Montreal Stars dynasty and create one of their own. Should the Toronto Furies acquire Spooner, it would provide a relatively young franchise with a solid foundation to build upon.
Having played on a line with Brampton superstar Gillian Apps on the Canadian National Team, the two would be suitable on a line together in the CWHL. In addition, one of Spooner’s teammates from the Ohio State Buckeyes, Laura MacIntosh is eligible for the draft. MacIntosh is the all-time leading scorer in Buckeyes history, followed by Spooner. The duo first played together on Team Ontario Red, as the two claimed the gold medal at the 2007 Canadian Under-18 girls’ championship. Of note, the two spent the entire 2011-12 Buckeyes season rewriting the club’s record books. Spooner and MacIntosh together in Brampton would continue their friendly scoring rivalry. With living legends such as Lori Dupuis, Jayna Hefford and Cherie Piper occupying spots on Brampton’s roster, Spooner may be the final piece of the puzzle in trying to claim the elusive Clarkson Cup.
Toronto is a team desperately needing scoring and leadership. Spooner would meet the needs of a still nascent team. After Jennifer Botterill retired from the Furies in 2011, the franchise never found an adequate replacement. Spooner has the heart to take on that role and be a positive influence in the dressing room. Heading into the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Spooner will likely also inherit the spot vacated by Botterill after her unexpected retirement from the Canadian National Team. With a core group of players such as Jesse Scanzano, Kori Cheverie, and Mallory Deluce, Spooner would be the elite player to elevate their game. Scanzano and Spooner were teammates together at the 2010 MLP Cup, in which Canada claimed the Gold Medal. In addition, Tessa Bonhomme (the face of the Furies franchise) would be able to take on more of a role as an offensive defender by feeding the puck to Spooner (the way Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito did with the Boston Bruins from 1967 to 1974).
In her senior year at Ohio State, she made a huge statement in the first conference game of the season. Spooner notched four goals, along with the only goal in the shootout against All-World goalkeeper Zuzana Tomcikova to defeat Bemidji State. Spooner would repeat the feat in a November 25, 2011 victory versus national powerhouse Minnesota Duluth, as she scored all four goals in a 4-1 upset. On January 27, 2012, Spooner contributed two goals in a 6-2 defeat of nationally ranked North Dakota. Said goals elevated her career point total to 150. For her sparking play during the season, she was rewarded with a place on the CCM All-America Team. She would finish her Buckeyes career with four records, including the career mark in goals scored, and game-winning goals, showing that she is a prime time player.
Spooner is no stranger to success. She has competed at all levels with the Canadian national team, starting with the Under 18 squad at the inaugural IIHF Women’s Worlds. From participating with the Under 22 program, to helping the senior team claim gold at the 2012 IIHF Worlds in Burlington, Vermont, she is a proven commodity. She has the three S’s needed to excel in hockey: size, speed, skill.
With a draft that consists of world class talent, there is no guarantee that Spooner will be selected first overall. That honor could easily go to Bailey Bram, Haley Irwin, Rebecca Johnston, Hilary Knight, Charline Labonte or Jennifer Wakefield. Whichever franchise ends up acquiring Spooner, that franchise does more than just acquire a player. It is the acquisition of a future superstar, a spokesperson for the game, and hope for a championship.