1. If you can’t watch a game, a Game Summary from someone who did will do
January 8: Toronto Wins in the shootout
Saturday January 8th saw the Toronto Six heading to Rimouski to play the Montreal Force in the PHF’s first ever battle of Canada.
Toronto didn’t get off to the start they would have wanted in the first. Montreal’s Alexandra Labelle put the Force up by one at 8:25. The Six would respond, but not until the second period when Kati Tabin tied it up less than a minute into the period. Michela Cava would put them up 2-1 30 seconds later. Toronto wasn’t able to hang onto the lead as Brooke Stacey scored at 14:15 for her second point of the game after having picked up the assist on Labelle’s first period goal.
The Canadian teams remained deadlocked through the third period and overtime, requiring a shootout to settle things. After three rounds where Brittany Howard and Ann-Sophie Bettez scored for the Six and the Force respectively, the shootout went to sudden death. Being able to send out any player they wanted, the Six opted to send Howard onto the ice again. Her second shootout goal was absolute superstar stuff and as Kristina Shanahan failed to score for the Force, it stood as the game winner for a final score of 3-2
January 9: Toronto Wins in Regulation
Both teams came into the second game looking for a regulation win, and Toronto ultimately walked away with it. Emma Woods put the first ink on the scoresheet in the first period. The two teams would trade goals throughout the second period. Alexandra Labelle picked up her second goal of the weekend, Emma Greco answered back a minute later. Bettez tied the game up at 12:50. Woods would score her second of the game five minutes later to put the Six up 3-2 and that’s where the scoring ended.
2. A hockey game is just three smaller hockey games
The Toronto Six have the uncanny ability to play the most exceptionally lacklustre first periods that you’ve ever seen, only to flip a switch in the second period and come back to win the whole game.
“We find that we go into the first, maybe not playing so well, and we find with this team, we can play three different games. One period is one game, the next period is a different game, and then the third is obviously a different one. It’s nice that this team has been able to come back a lot this year. They manage to pull through, and that’s the big thing. Winning games when you’re not playing well,” said Head Coach Geraldine Heaney
There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach, but one major advantage that the Six are definitely seeing in effect is the ability to compartmentalize. Breaking the game into its smaller parts, in theory, allows you to move on relatively quickly. All of a sudden a bad first period is less of a disaster, it doesn’t leak into the second and third and ruin the whole game.
3. A game is only as good as its broadcast, a broadcast is only as good as its building lets it be
There was a noticeable increase in the quality of this weekend’s games against Montreal, owing in part to the building that they were playing in.
As part of the Force’s 2022-23 model of touring home games, the Force arranged to play the Six at the Colisée Financière Sun Life, where the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic play. The Colisée was built in 1966, and it has been optimized for Oceanic broadcasts. When the Force and the Six played each other this past weekend, there were no disappearing pucks in the neutral zone, no extreme angles and no wonky white balance caused by inadequate lighting. It was a welcome change from the broadcast standards PHF fans have been reluctantly accepting for years.
The PHF is a relatively young league, and the priority for many years has been finding buildings that 1) can accommodate the schedule 2) are able to provide professional quality facilities for the players and 3) can maybe fit a camera in a corner somewhere. With the league growing and so many new investments being made, it might be time to set some broadcast standards, and part of that should include teams either making an attempt to move to rinks set up to accommodate broadcast, or making changes in existing facilities.
It might be an undertaking, but it’s worth it considering how many amazing performances and games just seem lacklustre because of the broadcast quality.
4. Three in regulation is worth two in overtime
In the 12 games the Toronto Six have played this season, four of them have gone to overtime. Of those four, one has been an overtime win, two have been overtime losses and one was the shootout win from Saturday.
No other team in the PHF has gone to OT as many times as Toronto, with Montreal being the closest, having two wins and one loss after the third period.
Toronto currently sits at the top of the standings with 27 points, but Boston has a game in hand and sits at 25 points. If the Pride win in regulation against Buffalo this weekend, that will give them the three points they need to edge Toronto out of first place.
It’s not the team’s most pressing concern, but in a 24 game season, giving up the extra point that a regulation win has to offer isn’t something you want to make a habit of.
5. When the hockey matches the hype... It’s probably Brittany Howard
Brittany Howard was the Six’s blockbuster signing of the offseason. Her potential contributions to the roster are so obvious, that a lot of us just took them for granted; of course she’s going to be good, we don’t need to talk about it too much.
Howard is doing something truly remarkable this season. She’s averaging a goal per game with 12 in 12, and a point and a half per game with 18 in 12. She leads the league in goals, and is second to Boston’s Loren Gabel in overall points. It won’t be a surprise if she finishes the season leading the team in every single offensive stat imaginable.
Toronto plays their next two games at home on January 21 and 22 against the Connecticut Whale.