It was a weekend of firsts for the Toronto Six. They played their first game and scored their first goal. They even played their first period of overtime and lost in their first shootout to the Minnesota Whitecaps.
The one first that still eludes the Toronto Six? Their first win.
The Six played their first game on Saturday against the much more experienced Metropolitan Riveters. Despite putting 40 shots on net, they lost 3–0.
Following the loss, head coach Digit Murphy found positives.
“We have a lot of bugs to iron out, we have to look after the details a little more, but we’re a high-skilled team, we’re a high-energy team, and we played fast,” said Murphy.
Looking forward, not backward
The Six couldn’t focus on the loss for too long, as there was more hockey to be played, but they did take some important lessons into their game against the Whitecaps the next day.
“We can’t take any game lightly, we just have to focus on our strengths, come out hard, do the simple things, get pucks on net, get more quality shots and chances to actually test these goalies — I think that will be huge,” said captain Shiann Darkangelo.
“Basically we need to be better than what we were today, every team’s going to be hard,” forward Mikyla Grant-Mentis added.
Grant-Mentis’ words rang true as the Six came out looking like a much better team on Sunday. Their passes were cleaner, and they didn’t turn over the puck nearly as often. At 8:03 into the first period, Lindsay Eastwood scored the first goal in Toronto Six history with a snipe from just below the hash marks.
Eastwood scored on the power play, and this goal would set the tone for the next two periods. The Six were up 5–1 by the end of the second.
A sixth goal would have seemed fitting.
Instead, the Whitecaps launched a comeback, starting with back-to-back goals from Haylea Schmid and Haley Mack in the dying minutes of the second period. The Whitecaps would go on to score two unanswered goals in the third and ultimately claim a 6–5 victory in the shootout.
Despite the loss, Murphy said that the team played, “night and day better,” than they had against the Riveters.
An eye on the details
They had opportunities to win. Whether it was Taylor Woods hitting the crossbar in the shootout, or a goal that goaltender Samantha Ridgewell nearly had, or bounces that didn’t quite go their way in their game against the Riveters, they were always in it.
The Six play their next game against Boston on Tuesday. To win, they need to get the details right. They can’t afford to make any turnovers and they need to capitalize on power-play opportunities like they did in the first two periods against the Whitecaps. They also need to work to draw penalties and give themselves the opportunity to shine on special teams. They’ve consistently put shots on goal, but they need to establish a presence in front of the net in order to make those shots dangerous. These are all things that this Toronto Six team is more than capable of doing, it’s just a matter of doing them consistently.
The Six were able to check off a whole bunch of firsts this weekend, it’s only a matter of time before their first win comes too. According to Murphy, though, “It’s not about winning the first game, it’s about winning the last game.”
The Six seem to get better every time they step on the ice. If they keep it up, then not only will their first win come, but many more after that.