Photo courtesy of the Ohio State Athletic Department
Senior forward Natalie Spooner is now the all-time leading goal scorer in Ohio State women’s hockey team history.
Spooner, a Scarborough, Ontario, native, set the record in Saturday night’s 4-3 loss to St. Cloud State University, bringing her career goal total to 87.
“When I’m done here, I can look back on it knowing that it’s a great program and all the players that have come before me and Jeni Creary who set the record before,” she said.
Coach Nate Handrahan called Spooner “one of the most explosive players in the country.”
“She does very special things on the ice,” he said.
The way in which Spooner broke the record is very interesting, Handrahan said.
“She has missed almost an entire season’s worth of games (over her career) due to training with the Canadian national team,” he said.
It puts a real strain on the program, he said, but it’s something that you have to deal with in a top-quality program.
Heading into Friday’s contest against SCSU, Spooner said she had no idea just how close to breaking the record she was.
And during Saturday’s game, it was again pushed to the back of her mind.
“I didn’t really think about it on Saturday because our team went down,” she said. “I went on to score to tie it up and my teammates were pretty excited for me.”
Spooner was quick to shift some of the focus to her teammates and coaches.
“I definitely couldn’t have done it without my teammates and my coaches who have helped me along the way,” she said.
Spooner said her only focus is helping her team win games.
“Hopefully I can keep scoring to help my team keep winning games,” she said.
One of Spooner’s linemates on the power play and fellow assistant captain, junior forward Paige Semenza, said one of Spooner’s biggest assets is her speed.
“Spooner is a load to handle,” Semenza said. “When she gets the puck down towards the net, you can really expect it to go in.”
Semenza said Spooner’s skill is not the only thing she brings to the team.
“She’s like a walking jukebox,” Semenza said. “In the locker room she’s always singing, she’s always in that upbeat mood and really gets people going.”
She said Spooner’s attitude has a positive effect on the team.
“When she’s in a good mood it spreads throughout the team. It’s contagious,” Semenza said.
Spooner’s path to the record books began 17 years ago when she started playing hockey at age 4.
For her, hockey was always a family affair.
“I have three older brothers,” she said. “My parents just decided to put me into hockey too.”
She played for the Durham West Junior Lightning, a member of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, for most of her early career before choosing to come to Ohio State.
“There is high school hockey in Canada, but it’s not competitive,” she said. “You wouldn’t get scouted from high school hockey.”
Spooner knew she wanted to be a Buckeye after taking an unofficial visit.
“When I came back on my official (visit) I still loved it,” she said. “I loved the school, the program and I got along well with the team.”
After her senior year is completed, Spooner plans to move back to Canada to play professionally.
“I’ll enter that draft (for the pro women’s league) next year and move back to Toronto to play on one of those teams, hopefully,” she said.
In the meantime, Spooner and the team will continue their season this weekend, when they will travel to take on Bemidji State in a double header. Puck drops at 8:07 p.m. both nights.