The Six wins their first Isobel Cup, beating the Whitecaps 4-3 in overtime

Mar 28, 2023 - 12:55 AM
HOCKEY: MAR 26 PHF Isobel Cup - Minnesota Whitecaps vs Toronto Six

Yesterday evening, championship hockey came to the desert. At Mullett Arena, after the Arizona Coyotes fell to the Colorado Avalanche in the shootout, the Toronto Six faced off against the Minnesota Whitecaps for the Isobel Cup, the top prize of the Premier Hockey Federation.

Before the event, fans had the chance to see a star-studded panel hosted by Erica Ayala. Lyndsey Fry (Silver Medal Olympian and Coyotes’ broadcaster), Natasha Adair (Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Arizona State University), Madison Packer (captain of the Metropolitan Riveters), and Kacey Bellamy (Isobel Cup and Clarkson Cup winner) spoke in front of a gathered crowd about topics ranging from preparing for a competition that is four years away to what it means to be involved with programs that they never had growing up as athletes. Present were girls from the Arizona Kachina hockey program and ASU Women’s basketball team who got advice from the athletes that they can use for the rest of their lives in sports and beyond.

After the panel wrapped up, fans headed inside to see the top teams of the PHF face off. It was a high-speed matchup, with the Toronto Six drawing first blood seven and a half minutes in with a goal from Dominika Lásková with Michela Cava and Leah Lum assisting.

Cava picked up the puck on the wall and went hard to the net, only to pass it across to a streaking Lásková to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. Lásková was sent to the box for tripping nine seconds later, but the Six killed the penalty and maintained their lead as the opening frame drew to a close.

The second period would feature most of the offense, starting with the Whitecaps tying the game just over four minutes in. Brittyn Fleming picked up a bouncing puck behind the Six’s net and beat goaltender Elaine Chul tying the game at 1-1.

But the Six didn’t wait long to regain the lead. Six and a half minutes later, Whitecaps goaltender Amanda Leveille went behind the net to play the puck, but a miscommunication led to streaking Emma Woods getting it instead. The Toronto forward passed the puck up to Breanne Wilson-Bennett, who converted on the Whitecaps’ mistake to make it 2-1.

“You see those kind of plays in these high-pressure games where those are the mistakes and the teams that capitalize are going to be ones that come out on top.” said Whitecaps defender Amanda Boulier said after the game “That was a tough one, but I really liked the way we kept coming back.”

Minnesota tied things up a second time before the end of the middle frame with a goal from Brooke Madsen. The Whitecaps were in on a 3-on-1, and Natalie Snodgrass passed the puck to Madsen, who fired it from the faceoff dot to tie the game two all.

The game started to get more physical as time began to tick away, and it was clear that the refs would let the women play. After two calls in the first period, the Six got the final penalty of the game late in the second, a bench minor for delay of game at 18:29.

The Whitecaps didn’t score before the end of the second, but it didn’t take long for them to get their first lead. With seconds remaining on the power play, Natalie Snodgrass took the puck to the goal line and found Jonna Albers, who redirected the puck past Chuli to make it 3-2 Minnesota.

fter coming back from deficits twice, the Whitecaps had their first lead of the game. But it was still early, and it didn’t take long for the Six to tie things up again just under eight minutes into the final frame with a goal from Taylor Woods.

Michela Cava stole the puck in the Whitecaps’ zone and backhanded a shot toward the net. Amanda Leveille made the initial save but couldn’t freeze the puck, allowing Woods to guide it into the net, tying the game for the final time.

With the game tied 3-3, regulation ended, and fans were lucky enough to get some free hockey. Speed had been a factor all game, and fans waited in anticipation to see what would happen with the open ice that 3-on-3 provides.

It didn’t take long for the Six to take over, and outside of a few good looks from the Whitecaps, overtime was all Toronto.

“We won one of the games against Connecticut in overtime as well, so we thought it could go into overtime,” Six head coach Geraldine Heaney said after the game. “We practiced it last week, we practiced it when we got here as well.”

That practice paid off. Not only did the Six outplay the Whitecaps, but they also got the game-winner four and a half minutes in. Forward Tereza Vanišová forced Liz Schepers to turnover the puck in the Whitecap’s zone and roofed a shot over Leveille to give the Six their first win.

“This has been three years in the making,” said Toronto captain Shiann Darkangelo after the game. “I’m super excited and proud of the group that’s been here and the girls that have been a part of this to be able to bring the Isobel Cup back to Toronto. We’re just going to try enjoy it here in Arizona with our friends and family that are here and then hopefully, we can do things with the community and the fans back home.”

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