The last time the Toronto Six took on the Connecticut Whale was the end of last season, with Toronto attempting to finish the season atop the PHF standings. On the very last day of the regular season, the Whale earned a dominating 5-0 victory over the Six to be crowned the regular season champions.
This season, the gap in the standings between the two teams is much more substantial, with Toronto holding down the second spot with 27 points and Connecticut in fourth with 19 points. On top of that, the goal-scoring leaders for both teams (Brittany Howard for Toronto and Kennedy Marchment for Connecticut) were also tied for most goals in the PHF with 12 apiece. Both teams were looking to gain ground in the standings as they enter the back half of the 2022-2023 season.
Game one of the weekend match-up started out close as both sides scored one goal each in the first period. The second frame, however, was all Toronto as the home team scored an impressive three goals in the span of 54 seconds, including two back-to-backs from Tereza Vanišová. The scoresheet read 6-2 for Toronto as both teams headed to their respective locker rooms. While the Whale made a strong push in the third period by cutting the deficit by two goals, Toronto captain Shiann Darkangelo ended any hope of a comeback with her team’s seventh goal on the afternoon. In addition to Darkangelo and Vanišová, Breanne Wilson-Bennett and Brittany Howard also chipped in with two goals each. Those two goals pulled Howard ahead in the league’s goal-scoring race, as Kennedy Marchment failed to find the back of the net on Saturday.
Sunday’s game was a different story, with Marchment and goaltender Abbie Ives stealing the show for Connecticut. The Whale built a healthy 4-0 lead thanks in part to special teams (a 5-on-3 powerplay goal from Caitrin Lonergan in the second period and a shorthanded goal from Marchment to start the third frame). In net, Ives stood tall and squashed almost all attempts to mount a comeback, stopping 31 of 32 shots. This game generated a few firsts for Toronto – none of them positive. This was the first regulation loss at home for the Six since they started playing at Canlan York arena last season, the first loss in the second game of their back-to-backs this season, and the first time in the 2022-2023 campaign that they were held to less than two goals in a game. Brittany Howard tallied the lone goal for her team, maintaining the league lead with 15 goals in 14 games.
In their last meeting, the Six swept the two-game series against their cross-border rivals. These two teams will meet up again in four weeks in Connecticut. Until then, the Six will have a break as the PHF All-Star game takes place in Toronto on Sunday, January 29. Eight players will represent the home crowd’s team, including Howard, Darkangelo, and Vanišová. Toronto’s next opponent will be the Buffalo Beauts at the Canlan York arena the following weekend.