Toronto Six Shutout Whale In Semifinals, Advance To First Championship Series In Franchise History
Elaine Chuli posts shutout in net, lifting Toronto Six to big semifinal victory
TORONTO -- On March 20, at Mattamy Athletic Centre, the Toronto Six (women’s pro hockey team) defeated the Connecticut Whale by a final score of 3-0 in the third and deciding game of the PHF Isobel Cup Semifinals.
“It was an amazing experience, and I think for these girls, just something they’re never going to forget,” said Geraldine Heaney, Head Coach of the Toronto Six. “We still have a job to do next weekend, but they should enjoy this. They just bought into everything we’ve been asking for all year. They did all the little things, including the blocked shots, and they sacrificed everything. They played playoff hockey there, and you could tell we were the team that wanted it more, and we came out on top.”
Surging right out of the gate in the third and deciding game of the PHF Isobel Cup Semifinals, Toronto’s Michela Cava broke the ice just over five minutes into the opening period, tallying her fourth goal of the playoffs to put the hometown Six up early.
“I saw [Kati] Tabin jump in on the rush, and fed the puck into her, she had a good chance and then the puck bounced out right to me,” Cava recalled of the set-up for her game-opening tally. “I saw the goalie [Abbie Ives] was a little bit out of place after the shot, so I did the wrap-around, it hit off her foot and went in.”
Representing the game’s only goal through the first twenty minutes, the Toronto Six didn’t waste any time breaking out of the locker room, as forward Leah Lum slapped home a cross-ice feed from leading playoff scorer Michela Cava during a three-on-two sequence, tallying her first goal of the playoffs to double her team’s lead just 32 seconds into the game’s middle frame.
“It was a great pass,” remarked Lum after the game. “Mic [Michela Cava] and I were talking about it after I scored that. I scored a similar one like that with the Kunlun Red Star, pretty much the exact same play, exact same shot, so we were joking about that on the bench afterwards.”
Up on the visiting Whale with a two-goal advantage heading into the third and final period, forward Brittany Howard found the stick blade of Kati Tabin posted in the high slot on the power play, who wired a one-timer five-hole past Abbie Ives for her first goal of the playoffs, which was more than enough to drown Connecticut on home soil and advance to their first Isobel Cup Final series in franchise history.
“Me and Brit [Brittany Howard] had been talking about just hammering the pucks on the power play, and I saw my chance where I could wind up, she gave me a beautiful pass, and bombs away. I just let it go,” Tabin said of her tally to put the semifinals away.
“That definitely swung in our favour there at the end,” explained captain Shiann Darkangelo of the final tally to seal the deal. “It was quick, too. I don’t even know how many seconds into the power play that goal was. Tabin took a shot there that went in, and I think that gave us another jolt of energy. A two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey, so you’ve got that in the back of your mind to put another one in, and that goal did that, and got the momentum to continue to go in our way.”
“Honestly, it’s hard to put into words,” exclaimed Lum of the historic moment. “We were so excited and we knew we had one job today. Everyone bought into everything we had said. Everyone was on board and it showed today. This was our best game of the season, and we’re so excited for next weekend.”
Making her third start of the Isobel Cup playoffs in the third and deciding game of the series, Elaine Chuli made 31 saves between the pipes in the winning effort.
“I’m super super proud of the way we battled today,” commented Elaine Chuli after solidifying the big victory for her squad. “I think that was probably one of the best games I’ve seen this group play this year. They were blocking a lot of shots and I’m super proud of them. We’re going to Arizona!”
With the 3-0 shutout victory on Monday evening at Mattamy Athletic Centre, the Toronto Six now head to Phoenix, Arizona, where they will meet the fourth-place Minnesota Whitecaps in a one-game showdown to hoist the coveted Isobel Cup. The championship game will be available for viewing on ESPN+ in the United States, and on TSN5 for viewers tuning in across Canada.