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Photo Credit: Nick Barden

Six for the Six! Toronto takes top seed in the NWHL Bubble Tournament with a HUGE win over Connecticut

This round robin game between the Connecticut Whale, coached by former Toronto Maple Leaf enforcer Colton Orr, and the Toronto Six was an interesting competition to say the least. To set the stage: the Whale had a few days off after a rejig in the schedule occurred due to the Metropolitan Riveters having to drop out of the tournament due to COVID-19-related health concerns. Conversely, the Six had to play just the night before in their first round robin game against the previously undefeated Minnesota Whitecaps; I say previously as the Six were able to squeeze out a great win to take that unbeaten title away from the Whitecaps.

The round robin will determine the seeding for the playoffs which will be on Thursday February 4th and the final for the Isobel Cup on Friday February 5th, so tonight’s game was an important one for Toronto to win.

The Good (and Great)

Elaine Chuli has continued to be a dominating force in net for the Toronto Six, as she made several excellent saves to keep the Six on top through the second period, on top of an overall excellent performance.

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The great thing is Toronto dominated the scoresheet in this contest. They were able to open the scoring as Sarah-Eve Coutu-Godbout takes a lofty backhanded shot that Amy Curlew gave redirection in front to get the 1-0 lead for Toronto.

They followed that up with a powerplay goal with a great shot from defender/forward/incredible athlete Taylor Woods to make it 2-0.

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Then there were two goals by Mackenzie MacNeil

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This was the chaser for Whale goalie Abbie Ives, who was the unfortunate recipient of a dominant Toronto attack, and on came new signing Mariah Fujimagari, who fared no better. They added to the total to make it 5-0 with a goal from four-named frenchwoman Sarah-Eve Coutu-Godbout.

The last punch the Six landed, to make it Six goals on the score sheet, was this one from their sniper Mikyla Grant-Mentis.

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The Not So Good

The first bad thing (from a Toronto Six perspective anyway) was that the Whale were able to add four players to their roster to cover for absences as this bubble season goes on.

Also, like the night prior, the Six were forced into playing with a shorthanded team of only 10 forwards and 5 defenders, after forwards Brooke Boquist and Emma Woods, as well as defender Kristen Barbara, were unable to continue competing.

Reasonably so, the Six look at the start of the game. Playing with just 15 skaters 2 nights in a row is bound to take a lot of a hockey team. But obviously as we saw above, that didn’t slow them down on the scoresheet.

One of the only bad moments of the actual game was when Connecticut Whale forward Janine Weber was taken out by a fallen Six player awkwardly and she then left the game.

The Important

With this win, Toronto takes the top seed of the tournament and will face the #4 seed in the first semifinal game. The #4 seed will be decided by a 3rd play-in game between the Boston Pride and Buffalo Beauts, who split the first two games of that play-in series.

Coach Digit Murphy on the extra challenges they’re facing with the shorthanded lineup:

“I think the players are getting in more flow with the three lines. I’m glad we had the long bench with this short event, but the TV timeouts really go for a short bench kind of team. I was watching Minnesota a couple times and they were playing two lines, because you can. With our team, they get in a flow with the three lines; we talked in the third period: offense, defense and off, get your linemates out there, get in a rhythm, and they just do it. I’m not going to say it’s helping us, but, it could be… we’ll see on Thursday.”

The Six will have the next three days off after a grueling schedule to start this fight for the Isobel Cup; and Thursday is when the real fight begins. You can find the coverage here on The Leafs Nation!