The Toronto Six kicked off their regular season with back-to-back wins at Canlan Sports York Arena against a formidable Minnesota Whitecaps opponent. The Six have not lost a game at their home rink since entering the league. There were many different storylines packed into two games, both on and off the ice.
Coming into Saturday’s match, last season’s Goalie of the Year, Elaine Chuli, was given the start between the pipes, with the sold-out crowd getting their first look at the new makeup of the Toronto roster. It was one of those new faces that scored the first goal of the game and the first goal of the latest Premier Hockey Federation season, with Brittany Howard burying a wrister on the powerplay past Whitecaps’ goalie Amanda Leveille in the first period. Minnesota tied the game up in the second period with a powerplay goal of their own, scored by Sidney Morin, before taking the lead later in the period, thanks to Natalie Snodgrass. Six captain Shiann Darkangelo tied the game with less than eight minutes in regulation off a pass to the front of the net from Brittany Howard. This game went to overtime – a 3-on-3 format in the PHF – which gave Brittany Howard enough space to skate through the offensive zone and find the back of the net off a beautiful backhand shot. One of the biggest signings for Toronto, the offensive prowess she was brought in for, was on full display with a 2 goal, 1 assist performance. Elaine Chuli was also her usual outstanding self, stopping 25 of Minnesota’s 27 shots and standing tall through multiple stretches with lots of pressure from the Whitecaps.
Game two on Sunday came with some dramatics off-ice before the puck drop. Toronto’s new coach, Geraldine Heaney, was suspended for the game for exceeding the PHF’s roster limit of 20 active players, dressing a total of 21 players for Saturday’s game. The announcement came with obvious confusion from fans, with the league commenting that they will open a review process during the week to determine if further actions need to be taken.
Toronto took the ice after the announcement, showing no ill effects from their coach’s suspension. Leah Lum opened the scoring for Toronto with the first goal of her PHF career, with a red-hot Brittany Howard tallying her third goal and fourth point of the weekend 49 seconds later. Minnesota closed out the opening frame with a powerplay goal from Liz Schepers to cut the deficit in half. Rolling off the momentum, Minnesota found the back of the net in the beginning of the second period, courtesy of Ashleigh Brykaliuk. The game remained tied for less than two minutes before Saroya Tinker let a blast loose from the blue line, which found its way past Leveille. Despite constant pressure from the Whitecaps, Chuli remained sharp during her second start of the weekend and once again earned a win with 25 saves on 27 shots, receiving the first star of the game.
Toronto remains perfect at Canlan arena. They will await a decision from the league regarding the infraction from Saturday’s game. The Six will be back on the ice on November 19th, getting their first look at The Rink at American Dream, where they will play Madison Packer and the Metropolitan Riveters.