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As the Tampa Bay Lighting and Columbus Blue Jackets played out the fourth-longest game in NHL history, a former Syracuse ice hockey player watched the drama unfold live. Lindsay Eastwood was glued to her seat in the rafters of Scotiabank Arena as she worked to describe the action to her colleagues at the Tampa Bay Times.
“(The Lightning) kept on missing the net or shots were blocked and I just thought they’re never gonna score and I don’t think Columbus is gonna score and (Joonas) Korpisalo is lights out so this game is never gonna end,” Eastwood said laughing.
The five-OT game and Eastwood’s Tampa Bay Times stint are the beginning of her next steps, following a record-breaking career for SU’s women’s ice hockey team this past season. She was named the College Hockey America conference’s best defender and also broke the career goals record by a Syracuse defender with 23.
Over the summer, Eastwood signed a deal with the Toronto Six in the NWHL. The Six will begin their season as the first Canadian team in the NWHL and also the only Canadian professional women’s sports team. However, with the NWHL season postponed due to COVID-19, Eastwood has been interning with the Six and freelancing for the Tampa Bay Times.
Eastwood said balancing her work with her playing career has been similar to being an athlete at Syracuse. She still wakes up early in the morning to go workout. After that she either goes to the rink for practice or does work for her media positions during the day. It’s Eastwood’s work ethic and time management that convinced team President Digit Murphy to offer her a contract.
“She was very engaged and passionate and inspiring,” Murphy said. “Those are the kids that, I believe, have the secret sauce to take a team to another level.”
With the Six, Eastwood has been producing content for the team’s YouTube channel by interviewing teammates and staff, in addition to helping expand the Toronto Six’s social media presence as the team enters its inaugural season.
In the meantime, Eastwood is also freelancing for the Tampa Bay Times. She received the opportunity through a teammate whose cousin works for the publication. Because COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented regular Tampa Bay writers from traveling to Canada, Eastwood was able to stay in the NHL bubble as a correspondent and help with the early rounds of the playoffs.
“I’m not necessarily a writer, but I do contribute to some of their writing,” Eastwood said. “I’m more their eyes and ears on the ground at the game.”
Going into the bubble, Eastwood has her temperature checked every time she walks into Scotiabank arena and is given her own section in the 300 level of the stadium. Without fans, Eastwood said she can hear the players communicating with teammates, saying things like “one on, one on” or “in deep,” even though she’d rather hear the “trash talk.”
Eastwood also met Jackie Redmond, an anchor for the NHL network and someone that Eastwood aspires to be like once her playing career is over. They talked while Redmond was preparing for her postgame show after the five-OT game. While Eastwood looks up to Redmond as a woman in sports media, Eastwood also understands the importance of playing for the only professional women’s sports team in Canada.
“It’s pretty cool and gives little girls something to see and strive for,” Eastwood said. “In Canada we love our hockey so it’s awesome and we’ve been welcomed very nicely and very warmly in the city of Toronto. I’m excited to play some hockey here and also grow the game of women’s hockey and women’s sports.”
While Eastwood continues to balance her three positions, the start of the NWHL season inches closer with team practices starting in October and the season kicking off in January 2021. Even though practices are currently optional, Eastwood has only missed one practice while juggling all of her responsibilities.
“Winners just get it done,” Murphy said. “So to me, she’s perfect for the Six.”
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