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How Michela Cava is adjusting to the PHF

After four years overseas, Michela Cava made her return to North American ice with the Toronto Six.

Toronto Six forward Michela Cava during a PHF game in Boston on Dec. 04, 2021.
Michelle Jay

Michela Cava hadn’t been home in nearly two years when she decided to sign with the Toronto Six.

She’d been living in Sweden since signing with MODO in the SDHL 2017-18. After two seasons in MODO, she one season with Brynäs, another season with Luleå and then signed with the KRS Vanke Rays in the ZhHL for the 2021 playoffs. When the playoffs ended for KRS, Cava was left to figure out where she wanted to play while the league was in its offseason.

“I had a few friends that played here in Toronto and they kept saying ‘come on, come play for Toronto’ and that was how it got started,” said Cava.

She was able to get in contact with the team and expressed interest in coming home for the 2021 season. Her signing was announced at the beginning of October, a month before the start of Season 7. Cava has been able to enjoy playing in front of friends and family again. This isn’t the first time Cava’s playing for a team in her home province of Ontario, she spent a season with the CWHL’s Toronto Furies before making the jump to Europe.

In nine games with the Six so far, she’s already making a case for herself as one of the team’s most valuable players.

She got to work immediately, scoring her first goal in her first game with the squad in the season opener in Buffalo. She was on the scoresheet again a few weeks later in the Six’s home opener against the Whale, becoming the first member of the Toronto Six to score a goal on home ice.

It’s in her nature to look for offense wherever it might be. Coming into this season with the Six, it was a possibility that she might need a few games to adjust, but Cava’s come out firing on all cylinders. If you ask her though, there’s still room to improve.

Cava is a player who thrives on international ice. She spent years honing her skills in the SDHL and she’s found a lot of things to love about the bigger ice surface. In simplest terms, it’s more open, there’s more space to work with, more places to poke holes in an opponent’s defense. That’s part of what made Cava so effective in the SDHL. It might explain why some of her most impressive games have been on home ice at Canlan Ice Sports where the Six play on an Olympic sized pad. On the road though, Cava has had to adjust to the North American ice surface that the other five PHF teams play on.

“It’s smaller ice. I don’t have as much space with the puck, so it can be a bit challenging to find open areas,” she said, “It’s still pretty new to me so I’m still trying to figure out the ways to be more successful and I hope as the season goes on it’ll be a little bit easier to find those open holes.”

The other parts of the game, Cava finds, are largely the same.

“The physicality I feel is quite similar over here, so is the style of play.”

It’s a style of play that seems to be working for Cava, from the very beginning she’s been an integral part of Toronto’s top six. She started the season on Grant-Mentis’ wing, but most recently she’s found herself playing with Darkangelo and Boquist.

The Six have 22 points in the standings going into the holiday break, good enough for first place in the standings. That’s a position that Cava is eager to see the Six maintain as the season goes on.

“I’m competitive and I want our team to be on the top and I’m going to do everything I can to help them to get there.”