Toronto Six Defeat Minnesota Whitecaps 4-3 In Overtime En Route To First Isobel Cup Championship

by Justin Levine

Tereza Vanisova nets winning goal in overtime, as Toronto Six secure first Isobel Cup championship

TORONTO -- On March 26, at Mullett Arena, the Toronto Six (women’s pro hockey team) defeated the Minnesota Whitecaps in overtime by a final score of 4-3 to win their first Isobel Cup championship in franchise history.

“I have to say these girls never gave up,” said Geraldine Heaney, Head Coach of the Toronto Six. “We were up, and then we were down 3-2, the girls battled to get the tying goal, and then we won the game in overtime. We practiced three-on-three quite a bit and I think we outplayed and out-chanced them in overtime.

“Those types of games, it can go any way,” Heaney continued. “[Elaine] Chuli came up big, and then T [Tereza Vanisova] scored the big winner, so I couldn’t be prouder of these girls. They’ve worked hard and they deserve it.”

Not wasting any time finding the scoresheet in the Isobel Cup Final, Toronto’s Dominika Laskova broke the ice just over seven minutes into the opening period, tallying her first goal of the playoffs to put the host team Six ahead early.

“It was all Cava,” remarked Laskova of her game-opening tally. “I was just staying in the right spot at the right time, and Cava gave me the open net, and I just put it in. It was all Michela Cava.”

Representing the game’s only goal through the first twenty minutes, the Minnesota Whitecaps quickly evened the playing surface in the game’s second frame, as forward Brittyn Fleming wired a wrist-shot on Chuli from the bottom of the right circle, scoring her first goal of the playoffs to knot the contest at one apiece.

Setting the tone for what quickly became a busy second period, the Toronto Six didn’t stray from their efforts of overpowering the visiting Whitecaps, as forward Breanne Wilson-Bennett tapped in a cross-ice feed from Emma Woods over the blocker of Amanda Leveille, potting her first goal of the playoffs to put Toronto back on top for a second time.

“Emma Woods did a really good job on the forecheck,” recalled Wilson-Bennett of the lead-up to her second period marker. “She was F1 and just slid the puck back to me, and I beat the goalie [Leveille] short-side.”

Charging right back to tie the game just six minutes later, Minnesota’s Brooke Madsen tipped home a cross-ice feed from forward Natalie Snodgrass during a three-on-one sequence, tallying her first goal of the playoffs to knot up the contest for a second consecutive period.

Tied at an even two goals apiece entering a decisive third and final period, the fourth-place Whitecaps only needed 20 seconds to get themselves settled in, as forward Natalie Snodgrass found the stick blade of Jonna Albers with a no-look feed on the power play, who poked the puck in above the glove of Chuli for her fifth of the playoffs to give Minnesota their first lead, now up ahead 3-2.

Itching to get back into full control and stave off a crushing defeat, defender Taylor Woods put in one of her own thanks to a well-timed helper from Michela Cava, netting her first goal of the playoffs to tie the game for a third time and keep the contest within an arm’s reach.

“I’ve had experience with that,” explained Taylor Woods of her unique third-period marker. “I did put in a couple before during the season, so when it was there, I told myself ‘Hey, I can’t do a fly-by, I need to be in front of the net and create that presence’. I stopped, saw the puck and I was just making sure it went in, and it went in, so I’ll take it.”

While burying a pivotal goal to keep her team’s championship hopes alive, both clubs struggled to put the game away in regulation, which led the Final tilt into three-on-three sudden death overtime, where forward Tereza Vanisova beat Amanda Leveille top shelf with her first goal of the playoffs, which capped a momentous occasion and carried the Toronto Six en route to a historic 3-2 Isobel Cup Final victory.

“I was forechecking against Minnesota, got the puck out from the corner, skated in front of the net, and I shot it high and it went in,” said Vanisova, reflecting on her championship-winning tally after the game.

“It was unreal,” continued Vanisova while reliving the moment. “I’m so proud of this group and the whole team. It was a very tough game for us and we had to grind it through. Finals are always hard, and we did well. I’m very proud.”

“It’s incredible,” exclaimed T6 captain Shiann Darkangelo of the achievement. “There are so many people that aren’t here today that have made this possible in the three years we’ve been together. The foundation that we’ve built here at the Six is an example of what’s here today, winning the Isobel Cup. I couldn't be more proud of this group. We’ve been resilient all throughout the playoffs, and honestly, it took every single person on this team to be able to do this today. I’m just so excited.”

“For me, I was just really hoping the girls would come out and perform,” said Angela James, General Manager of the Toronto Six. “I said cuts, scrapes, bruises, and our girls got rocked, but that’s what it’s going to take to win a championship. I have to give kudos to Minnesota, they played an awesome game. They really pushed us, and I’m just really proud that our girls didn’t give up. They really fought for what they believed in all year; that they were the best team in the league. They proved it today and they’re Isobel Cup champions. I’m very proud of them.”

With the 4-3 overtime victory on Sunday evening at Tempe’s Mullett Arena, the Toronto Six close out the 2022-23 season on a high note, securing their first Isobel Cup championship in franchise history.