The Toronto Six was back on the ice after a weekend off, making their first appearance at the American Dream Mall rink to take on the Metropolitan Riveters. Much could be said about the performance on the ice and the atmosphere they played in, with the Six and the Riveters splitting the back-to-back games.
Over the past couple of months, there has been plenty of talk about Metropolitan’s new home ice rink. The rink, located in East Rutherford’s American Dream Mall, features a glass ceiling that can challenge players not used to the ice when the sun is shining. The team utilized the space last season for their practices, and they’ve made it their home facility this season. When the weekend was over, both teams left with a win apiece and lots of penalty minutes on their game sheets.
On Saturday, a game that started as a back-and-forth affair exploded midway through the second frame, with the Riveters scoring three unanswered goals and going from a 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 lead. Sarah Bujold led her team with two goals – one shorthanded and one powerplay – and an assist, while goalie Rachel McQuigge turned aside 27 of 30 shots. Kelly Babstock and Captain Madison Packer also found the back of the net twice, rounding out the final 6-3 score. For Toronto, the team took five body-checking penalties, gave up a shorthanded goal, and only went 1-for-6 on the powerplay. It wasn’t the outing that the Six are used to from goaltender Elaine Chuli, who stopped 13 of 18 shots and was pulled early in the third period. Carly Jackson came in as relief for her first-ever appearance in a Six jersey, turning aside all four shots faced. Emma Woods led on the scoresheet for Toronto with a goal and two assists, while defender Kati Tabin scored her first in the PHF and Brittany Howard added a tally to her league lead in goals.
Sunday saw a tilt in the ice, with Toronto eventually dominating play and coming away with a 5-2 victory, improving their record to 3-1, good for second place in the PHF. After a slow start (including another shorthanded goal from Sarah Bujold – who also added a powerplay goal later in the game), Toronto began to increase the pressure. The team’s second line of Leah Lum, Tereza Vanišová, and Dominika Lásková were noticeably controlling play, getting numerous chances while McQuigge made many key saves to keep her team in the game. Birthday girl Brittany Howard gave herself the gift of yet another goal, while Lum potted two of her own, and Vanišová and Emma Woods scored one apiece. Carly Jackson made her first start for the Six, earning her first victory and stopping 25 of 27 shots. Unfortunately, Toronto once again struggled on special teams, going 0-for-6 on the player advantage and allowing a second shorthanded goal on the weekend. Despite taking eight minor penalties throughout the game, they managed only to allow one goal against the penalty kill. The Six currently lead the league in penalty minutes with 42 PIM.
Toronto comes away with two points and a few issues to tackle in the week ahead before they take on the undefeated Boston Pride at Warrior Ice Arena. Boston, last season’s PHF champions, sit atop the standings thanks mainly to the strong play of goaltender Corinne Schroeder, who didn’t allow a goal until her fourth game. With the league’s hottest goaltender matching up with the league’s leading scorer, it’s sure to be an entertaining weekend of hockey.