ST. PAUL, Minn. — Erin Ambrose’s performance during the first season of the Professional Women’s Hockey League has earned her two awards from the league.

Ambrose was chosen defender of the year ahead of Megan Keller (Boston) and Ella Shelton (New York) following a season of 18 points in 24 games, including four goals, and a plus-5 defensive rating.

These statistics also earned her a spot on the PWHL’s first all-star team, along with her teammate Marie-Philip Poulin.

“The individual awards are a bit bittersweet. The most important thing I would have liked to have is the Walter Cup,” Ambrose said, referring to the league championship trophy. Montreal was swept by Boston in three overtime games in the semifinal.

“But overall, I’m honoured, especially to have my name associated with Ella Shelton and Megan Keller. Both had phenomenal years. It was a special year, and I’m grateful to have been named defender of the year.”

During her discussion with the media, Ambrose had no difficulty identifying the moment that most marked her during this inaugural season.

“Without a doubt the Bell Centre game. This moment was monumental in women’s sports. This is something I will cherish for the rest of my life, not just the rest of my career. 21,000 people came to support us. It’s difficult to put into words what we managed to achieve that day.”

It was clear that Ambrose is looking forward to the next season, which could allow her to play on a regular basis with Cayla Barnes, the defender that General Manager Danièle Sauvageau claimed in the first round of Monday’s draft.

Above all, all her attention and energy will go into preparation to help Montreal capture the Walter Cup.

“I think it will be quite easy to motivate myself next summer. There are a lot of things I want to accomplish as an individual athlete to ensure I can have the best impact possible to bring a Walter Cup to Montreal. And it starts with summer training, it starts with what I need to do before the season. I like the foundation we have in Montreal and the leadership we have in Montreal.”

Montreal forward Maureen Murphy was given the Hockey For All Award, which rewards community involvement.

Interested in health and well-being, Murphy became involved in various community organizations in Montreal while pursuing her law studies.

Poulin was in the running for two individual honours, forward of the year and the Billie-Jean-King MVP Award, but lost both to Toronto’s Natalie Spooner.

In both cases, the 18-person selection committee opted for Natalie Spooner from the Toronto team.

Spooner led the league in goals (20), nine more than the next two, and points (27). She recorded an average of 1.13 points per game, the best in the league.

“A year ago I wouldn’t have believed we would have an actual league to play in,” Spooner said.

“I think even coming into this season with how my summer was last year and recovering from having my son Rory and getting my body back to normal — I didn’t skate for six months leading up to the season — I probably wouldn’t have thought it would have gone this way. 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.”

Her performance earned her a first-team all-star nomination, along with goalie Kristen Campbell (Toronto), Shelton and forward Alex Carpenter (New York).

But Spooner’s season ended on a dark note, sustaining a knee injury in Game 3 of the semifinal when she collided with Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle. Minnesota went on to win the series in five games en route to defeating Boston in the Walter Cup final.

Spooner, who attended the ceremony on crutches, did not provide a timeline for her return. But she said she views recovering from a knee injury as a more certain process than returning from childbirth.

Campbell was also voted goalie of the year and Toronto’s Troy Ryan was named head coach of the year, beating Montreal’s Kori Cheverie.

Zumwinkle was named rookie of the year. She scored the first hat trick in the history of the league, against Montreal on Jan. 6 in a 3-0 win.