One of the breakout stars of the 2021 NWHL season, Lindsay Eastwood grew into her own with each game for the Toronto Six.
Did she score the Six’s most memorable goal of the season? Yes. Does she dominate opponents with her strong defensive play? That’s also a yes. Does her play make those around her better? Once again, that’s an affirmative – yes. Frankly, it’s hard not to be a fan of Eastwood; her potential is truly stratospheric.
Previously analyzed were how important her contributions have been to the Toronto Six, her strengths and where she excels:
“The eye test indicates that her greatest strengths are her puck possession, distribution and physical strength… Everything about Eastwood seems to point to a player who can contribute positively, no matter how many points she puts on the board. The only game that her plus/minus dipped into the negative was her debut in which the Toronto Six were shutout by the Metropolitan Riveters (as much stock as you can give to a statistic as widely debated as plus/minus). Yet in this case, it further contributes to what we already know: that Lindsay Eastwood is a player who rarely impedes her team’s performance… Half of her points have been the result of power play time… she truly has excelled as a power play specialist.”
We had the privilege of catching up with Eastwood over Twitter:
Now that the 2020-21 season has ended and you have the time to reflect on the season and the obstacles that the Toronto Six have had to overcome, what emotions does it evoke?
“It was quite the roller coaster of a season. I was pretty skeptical we would even have a season, so when they told us we were going to Lake Placid, I was over the moon. There was a lot of excitement around the bubble and opening weekend the league created some major waves for women’s hockey. Unfortunately, the bubble took a turn for the worst. Then that excitement came right back when we were gearing up to play in the semi in Boston. Through all the ups and downs of the season, at the end of the day I am just so thankful that we got to have a season and play the game we love. It was essentially a bonus season.”
How did you enjoy your first season of professional hockey? Certainly a unique one, that’s for sure!
“It was nothing out of the ordinary! I had so much fun in first season of pro. I really enjoyed going to practice which isn’t something that I’ve enjoyed in a long time — more of a game gal. Our team, top to bottom, was filled with great people who made this weird season so fun. I can’t wait for my second season, but hopefully it can be a little more normal.”
Much has been made of you being the first goal scorer in Toronto Six history. Take us through the goal, and what it means to you and women’s hockey in the city of Toronto.
“That was a pretty special moment. Might have to be my favourite goal I’ve ever scored. I honestly didn’t even realize I had scored the first franchise goal; I was just pumped we had the lead against Minnesota. It wasn’t until after that I realized how big of a deal it was. I’m honoured to have scored that goal and be able to help set the tone for the first and only Canadian NWHL team.”
While playing college hockey your plus/minus steadily improved with each subsequent season, and you’re one of a select few defencemen who have improved their points-per-game ratio from college to professional hockey. What have you done on and off the ice to consistently improve and make the jump to professional hockey?
“I don’t think much has changed in how I train and prepare for a season other than this year. It was a different year with gym closures. I had to get a little more creative and hold myself more accountable. I think the difference here is I went out there to have fun this season. I was a rookie with no expectations, whereas at Syracuse I had been wearing a letter for the previous three seasons and as a veteran I felt a lot of pressure. This season I got to just go out and play and I had an unreal team to lean on who also help me look good.”
What’s remarkable about each of the assists that you tallied in the regular season is that each one resulted in a different goal scorer: Quinn, Fluke, Boquist, Grant-Mentis and Coutu-Godbout. Really is a reflection on your playmaking talent and ability to improve those around you.
“I think that just shows the talent we have on this team. You want your whole line-up producing and that’s what we had. It didn’t matter who I passed the puck to, I could trust they were going to do something great with the puck.”
What have you learned as an individual from your first experience in the NWHL to prepare you for next year?
“I got my first little taste of the NWHL. I know what to expect on the ice a little more now. I know what it takes and what I have to work on this off-season.”