Toronto forward Natalie Spooner wins PWHL's MVP award

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Toronto's Natalie Spooner was named the Professional Women's Hockey League's Most Valuable Player and Forward of the Year on Tuesday.

The member of the Canadian national team was the PWHL scoring leader with 20 goals and seven assists in the league's inaugural season. She was chosen over New York's Alex Carpenter and Montreal's Marie-Philip Poulin.

Spooner had a son in late 2022 and did not skate for six months leading up to the season, so she wasn't sure how she would perform.

"I probably wouldn't have thought that it would have gone this way," she said. "I think I was just super grateful to be playing again, to be back on the team. I think I was just really excited to get back out there with the girls, but I never thought that I'd be able to have, I guess, as big of an impact as I was able to have with the team."

Spooner suffered a knee injury during the playoff semifinals that required surgery. Minnesota took advantage, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to win the series and, eventually, the league title.

Spooner did not give a timetable for when she expected to be healthy, but noted that a knee injury is more predictable to recover from than childbirth.

Toronto raked in the honors. Troy Ryan, the Canadian national coach, is the Coach of the Year after leading his team to a league-high 47 points in the regular season, including a league-record 11-game win streak. Kristen Campbell won Goaltender of the Year after notching 16 wins and three shutouts. She is the backup goalie on the Canadian national team.

Montreal's Erin Ambrose is the Defender of the Year. She had 18 points in 24 games.

Minnesota's Grace Zumwinkle is Rookie of the Year after scoring 19 points in 24 games and recording the league's first hat trick. She has been on U.S. national team.

Montreal's Maureen Murphy won the Hockey For All Award for her volunteer work.

An 18-member selection committee voted on the winners between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.