On January 24, 2021, Lindsay Eastwood scored the first goal in Toronto Six history. A little under two years later, the stick and puck that she did it with have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame along with Brooke Boquist’s game-worn jersey.
Both Boquist and Eastwood are a part of a core group of players who have been with the PHF’s first Canadian franchise since its inception. They’ve seen first-hand how much the Toronto Six and the PHF as a whole have expanded over the past three seasons. On the ice, the Six have gone from a team that couldn’t score a single goal in their very first game, to finishing second in the league. Off the ice, women’s hockey players are receiving higher salaries than they have ever before.
When Brooke Boquist signed with the Six, she never expected that she’d be standing in the same room as some of hockey’s most iconic trophies and memorabilia, having her own legacy preserved. Being surrounded by her teammates is what made it even more special.
“It’s just who you have in the locker room. They make it fun to come to the rink every single day, so that’s why I’m still playing. I never would have expected for this to happen, but definitely really honoured and grateful to be a part of the journey,” said Boquist.
For some players, it was a journey that started years before the Toronto Six was even founded.
“When the CWHL folded, I was part of that, I played for the Furies,” said Captain Shiann Darkangelo
In her opening remarks, Team President Sami-Jo Small praised players like Eastwood, Boquist and Darkangelo for taking what was, in her words, a risk in signing with a brand new PHF team. The Six launched an entire team in the middle of a pandemic that had sent the world reeling and made sports leagues hesitant to start anything new. On top of that, some players were choosing between continuing to play in PWHPA showcases, or joining PHF teams.
For Darkangelo, making the jump was difficult, but at the end of the day, she saw the Toronto Six as her best option at the time.
“Staying with the PWHPA, it was kind of a comfort zone,” she said, “A lot of my friends and teammates that I played with on the national team [played in the PWHPA] so that made it more tough to take the jump and to feel like ‘Am I doing the right thing when there’s still players sitting on the sidelines saying that they don’t want to join this league.’”
After playing for a year in the PWHPA, though, Darkangelo decided that she wanted to do more than play in a few showcases on the weekend, she wanted to be on a team.
“For me, it was kind of a no-brainer, I hit a point in my career where I was like ‘I still want to play’ and there was a league,” she continued.
As the league grows, it’s more important than ever to do things the right way. With higher salaries and professional standards, comes more responsibility for everyone involved. Part of honouring the past is learning from it so that the future can be brighter.
The Hockey Hall of Fame was a fitting place to honour the Toronto Six’s place in hockey history. Of the nearly 300 players inducted into the Hall of Fame, two of them are key members of the team, Geraldine Heaney as Head Coach, and Angela James as General Manager. To have two Hall of Famers on staff, is something rare for any organization.
To the players, Geraldine Heaney and Angela James are the people who plan practices and run drills. They were at the induction ceremony directing them where to sit, in what order to stand up and receive their jerseys, and where to pose for photographs. Being honoured at the Hall of Fame was a way to situate themselves, their coaches, their management and everyone else around them, in a shared history.
“It’s an absolute honour, I honestly don’t really have any words, I’m just very grateful to have this opportunity and to be playing under two incredible people and incredible hockey players. It’s just awesome,” said Boquist.
“The growth of women’s hockey is incredible, just in my short period of playing professional hockey. We have Hall of Famers on our staff, and people like Sami-Jo [Small], other women who have kind of trail blazed our way, Digit Murphy being with us, things like that. I can’t imagine how incredible it is for them to see where it’s gone,” said Darkangelo.
The Six will start their regular season at home on November 5 at home against the Minnesota Whitecaps at 2:00 p.m. as part of their partnership with the Six, Athleta has bought out every single ticket and will be providing them free of charge to those who claim them through the Six’s ticketing website.
The team has high expectations for themselves, coming off of a season where they dominated in the regular season, but couldn’t pull it off in the playoffs. If they have it their way, the next time they make history, it will be as the first Canadian team to win the Isobel Cup.