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MGM’s six-point symphony against the Beauts

Michelle Jay

Mikyla Grant-Mentis, the PHF’s reigning MVP, just had herself a weekend. Last Saturday, Grant-Mentis had a goal and an assist to lift her Toronto Six past the Buffalo Beauts by a score of 6-1. On Sunday, Grant-Mentis absolutely went off. She had three assists in the first period alone and followed that with a hat trick in the Six’s dominant 8-3 win over Buffalo.

That’s eight points in two games and now six consecutive multi-point games for Grant-Mentis. We have officially reached the point where we expect excellence from her. That’s just where her game is right now, and there are no signs of her slowing down. Remember, Grant-Mentis had this eight-point weekend in the immediate aftermath of Michela Cava — likely a top-10 forward in the PHF — departing the team to return to the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays.

This season, Bucky has put at least seven shots on goal in five games and has eight multi-point games. Her rate of production is simply relentless, which is why she was the top PHF player in N-WHKYe at the holiday break. The Toronto Six are 8-0-0 in games when she scores and they are 1-1-1 in games when she doesn’t. If that doesn’t scream “MVP” I don’t really know what does.

Something that really stood out from Sunday’s performance was how Grant-Mentis responded to the Toronto Six trailing twice in the first period. Both of her assists in the first were secondary helpers and picked up on the power play. She proved how effective she can be on the halfboards and got the puck to Taylor Woods who set up Emma Woods for the Six’s first goal and Shiann Darkangelo for the second.

After the first period, it was the MGM show. And what a show it was.

She set up Emma Woods from behind the goal line in the first minute of the second period to tie the game at 3-3. After Brooke Boquist put the Six up 4-3, Grant-Mentis scored an unassisted shorthanded goal after prying the puck away from the Beauts. Outnumbered and shorthanded? Not a problem. Not for Grant-Mentis. Not on Sunday, at least.

Then, after Shiann Darkangelo potted her second goal of the game to put the Six up 6-3, Grant-Mentis scored again. This time with just 29 seconds left in the second period to put Toronto up 7-3. It was a picture-perfect wrist shot that Lovisa Berndtsson couldn’t do anything to stop.

Halfway through the third period, Grant-Mentis picked up her fourth primary point and sixth point of the night when she wired another wrister at the Beauts’ net. This time, it was Carly Jackson who watched the laser beam blink past her and into the net. At the moment, the goal is credited to Maegen Beres in the box score. Beres may have gotten a piece of it to deflect it in, which would mean Grant-Mentis would have a primary assist and not a hat trick. One way or another, she finished the game with six points.

Or, if we include Saturday, eight points — five of them primary — in nine periods of hockey. Not bad for 48 hours of hockey after a month off.

Given what we’ve seen thus far, it’s obvious that Grant-Mentis is the frontrunner for MVP. Her production has been nothing short of relentless this season, even with a three-game scoring drought in early December. With that said, her 2.09 Pts/GP pace might be unsustainable. For context, Hilary Knight’s 1.94 Pts/GP in 2015-16 is the highest scoring rate in a single season of PHF/NWHL hockey among players who played at least 70 percent of their team’s games. The highest scoring rate by any player in a single season was Amanda Kessel, who had 18 points in eight games (2.25 Pts/GP) in 2016-17.

Oh, and for those who are curious, MGM is on pace for around 42 points. That would be a single-season PHF/NWHL record. Can she do it? I certainly am not going to say that she can’t. She’s all but unstoppable right now.

As the season progresses, a key storyline to watch will be who, if anyone, rises to challenge Grant-Mentis for MVP. We are only at the halfway point, but there is no true contender right now. At least for the moment, Grant-Mentis is really in a league of her own.