The Toronto Six have questions to answer in PHF Season 8
By Ryan Hobart28 days ago
Photo courtesy of Paul Krotz’s Twitter page @Paul_Krotz
New ownership, new coaching, new general management, new players, and a new top scorer. That’s what’s in store for the Toronto Six in their 3rd season in the PHF, the 8th season in the league’s history (formerly the NWHL).
Let’s work that back in reverse.
There’s many questions to answer for the Toronto Six, but one thing that we know for sure is that their top scorer this season will not be Mikyla Grant-Mentis, who led the team in scoring in its first two seasons in the PHF. No, she will be playing with the rival Buffalo Beauts this season, where she began her pro career, after signing a landmark 80,000 USD/year contract with them.
Who can step up to the plate? It could be last year’s second leading scorer, and team captain Shiann “Shidark” Darkangelo. She was 10 points behind Grant-Mentis with 20 in 20 games. Though, she did play most of those games with Grant-Mentis, she was 8th in the league in primary points (goals and first assists) with 16, so she can certainly be a key contributor again.
Another possibility is Michela Cava, who was with the team for about half the season before having to return to Russia due to what I presume were contractual obligations. She scored 7 points in 11 games, most of those with a super hot start, scoring 6 points in her first 3 games.
Or maybe it’ll be one of the new players?
The Six have brought aboard a bunch of brand new faces to the organization, so let’s take a quick look at who they are and what they might be able to bring to the team.
#3 Forward Nadine Edney – Coming off of two years in Austria’s EWHL league, Edney joins the Toronto Six forward group with a reputable scoring ability. She scored over a point per game in her time in Austria, including playoff games. Edney is 26 years old and hails from Mississauga, ON.
#8 Forward Leah Lum – After 4 years at UConn, the Chinese Canadian Lum has spent her entire pro career so far in China, playing in Shenzen for a team that can’t fully decide on its name, but currently is known as the Shenzen KRS (Kunlun Red Star) Vanke Rays. It’s a mouthful, I know. Lum’s career also boasts a stint at the Olympics for China, in China at the Beijing Olympic Games, where she scored 4 points in 4 games.
#9 Defender Kati Tabin – Tabin spent her first professional hockey season with the PHF’s Connecticut Whale last season, after 4 years a Quinnipiac University. Tabin is an offensive defender, leading the Quinnipiac team, which she captained in her senior year, in points from the blueline. Tabin’s still seeking her first professional point tally though, after not getting on the score sheet in her 6 games with the Whale last year.
#10 Forward Lexi Templemann (R)– This will be Templemann’s first pro hockey season, after she spent four years lighting the lamp with Robert Morris University where she led the team in scoring her senior year and was the team’s captain. In a victory lap year, allowed due to COVID, she played for Ohio State University, and the unfamiliar territory didn’t treat her as kindly with just 11 points in 37 games.
#14 Forward Courtney Gardiner (R) – While Gardiner technically joined the team last year for a weekend on a PTO, she never played a game, so this is still her rookie season professionally. She played for York University, who share an arena with the Six, and was given the opportunity to skate with the Six throughout the year. Gardiner led her team in scoring with 12 points in 17 games in her senior year.
#21 Forward Tereza Vanisova – Vanisova joined the Boston Pride late last year for the playoffs, and she played there in her first pro season for Season 6 of the NWHL at the time, the bubble season. In between, she spent a season in Sweden, where she scored a modest 24 points in 31 games. Vanisova is also a Czechian Olympian, where her team had a surprise 2nd place finish in Group B, forcing them to face USA in the quarterfinals, a game they lost expectedly.
#41 Forward Brittany Howard – Crossing over to the “dark side”, Howard played her last three years in the recently formed PWHPA, which organizes competitive hockey games among the best athletes in women’s hockey. Their goals are ambitious and I fully support them, but there’s also value in what the PHF brings to women’s hockey, and clearly Howard saw something she wanted to try here with the Toronto Six. Howard previously played in the now defunct professional women’s hockey league in Canada, the CWHL, for Toronto as well. Howard is a very talented scoring forward and quite likely will help tremendously with Toronto’s offense this season.
#48 Defender Alexis Woloschuk – Another conversion from the PWHPA to the PHF, the more veteran 28-year-old Woloschuk is a two-way defender that will likely play in all situations for the Toronto Six. Hailing from Winnipeg, she’s played the last 3 seasons in the PWHPA. Before that she was with the Markham Thunder in the CWHL.
#70 Goaltender Carly Jackson – Somehow, Carly Jackson is only in her third pro season, but she’s made quite a name for herself in that time. She’s one of the PHF’s most vibrant personalities, and will undoubtedly shine in the spotlight of Toronto sports. Last years she was the starter for the Buffalo Beauts, posting a 90.3% save percentage in 17 games. She will likely serve as a backup to the Six’s star goalie Elaine Chuli, providing relief on those weekly back-to-back games, or taking the reins if Chuli isn’t available one weekend.
#96 Defender Dominika Laskova – Last but certainly not least, we have Vanisova’s Czechian Olympic teammate Dominika Laskova. While 25 years old, Laskova has played the last 4 years in NCAA hockey at Merrimack College. Before that, she did play pro in Czechia for three years. In the recent Olympic games she was held pointless in 5 games. Laskova has displayed some offensive talent in the World Cup for Czechia and will undoubtedly bring some of that flare to Toronto’s back line. It will also certainly be beneficial to have the Czechian duo here in Toronto to give that sense of home.
For returnees from last year and more details on the Six’s roster, check their website here.
You’ll also notice on the website that the team staff is different from last year. Firstly, Canadian hockey icon for Black women and hockey fans in general, Angela James has taken on the general management role, in addition to her new digs as team owner. Also, Canadian Olympic Gold Medal winning Geraldine Heaney takes over from Mark Joslin at head coach. She joins her former teammate Sami Jo Small in the organization, who is now the President of the Club. All in all, the staffing changes are big news because these are huge names in Canadian hockey now running Canada’s longest serving pro women’s hockey club. Undoubtedly their high profile will bring the attention the PHF deserves.
This is James’ first stint as a general manager, but her life in hockey gives her more than enough experience to do the job well. For Heaney, once she retired she immediately took up coaching with the University of Waterloo. She stepped down from that role after 6 years to coach her daughter’s team, and now is getting back into higher profile hockey with this position. Sami Jo Small has some experience in front office management, as she served as the GM of CWHL’s Toronto Furies, where she signed two players who are now with the Toronto Six, Elaine Chuli and Shiann Darkangelo.
Overall, there’s a lot to be excited about but there’s also a lot up in the air. How will all these new faces in the front office fare in relatively new roles? What does the prestige of these names do for the club’s financial goals? How will the on-ice product fare without the phenom Mikyla Grant-Mentis?
All this and more will be answered starting TODAY. The Six take on the Minnesota Whitecaps at home at York Canlan Sports Center. The first game of the season today, which was made free to attend thanks to promotion by Athleta, has sold out, which is very exciting. Paid tickets for Sunday’s game are still available, you can find them here: https://toronto6ix.universitytickets.com/
For those who can’t attend the games, they will be broadcast on TSN Live, under their bonus streaming content. The Montreal Force games will also be available to stream there. In the US, the games will be broadcast on ESPN+. The games will not be shown on any of the cable TSN networks.
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