Three Reasons the Six Will Win the 2023 Isobel Cup
Can the Toronto Six win it all in their first trip to the Isobel Cup final?
For the first time in team history, the Toronto Six have advanced to the Isobel Cup final. They’ll play the Minnesota Whitecaps at Mullett Arena in Tempe, AZ, this weekend.
For the past two years, the Six have been titans of the regular season; they’ve never finished lower than second in the standings. Despite their regular season success, the Six have never advanced past the semifinal. In both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, they were eliminated by the Pride.
Though the Whitecaps are a strong team in their own right, the Six have the edge. These teams have met four times since the start of the season, and all four times, the Six have come out with the win.
If the Six are going to become the first Canadian team to lift the Isobel Cup, the reasons it happens are going to be a little bit cliché. They have a great roster, solid defense, and they have the kind of forward depth that, on paper, wins championships.
2022-23 Toronto Six Roster
Goaltenders: Elaine Chuli, Carly Jackson
Defense: Taylor Davison, Lindsay Eastwood, Emma Greco, Kati Tabin, Saroya Tinker, Alexis Woloschuk, Taylor Woods (A)
Forwards: Brooke Boquist, Michela Cava, Shiann Darkangelo (C), Nadine Edney, Courtney Gardiner, Brittany Howard, Dominika Lásková, Leah Lum, Lexi Templeman, Tereza Vanišová, Daryl Watts, Breanne Wilson-Bennett (A), Emma Woods (A)
1. Their goaltending is steady and reliable
It’s no secret that Elaine Chuli has stolen games for the Six since the very beginning. It was goaltending that got them to the final, and it’s goaltending that’s going to win it for them. Chuli had a .917 SV% in the regular season. In three playoff games against the Connecticut Whale, she stopped 82 of the 88 shots that she faced. In the game that sent the Six to the final she had a jaw-dropping 31-shot shutout.
Chuli can step up in the big moments and make saves that no one could blame another goalie for missing. If she can make a few good saves in the first period, she gets near impossible to beat. She’s widely regarded as one of the best goaltenders in the Premier Hockey Federation, if not the best.
If for some reason Chuli doesn’t play the final, the Six have arguably the most reliable second goaltender in the PHF. Carly Jackson has five wins in five starts in the regular season. She’s made 126 saves for a .926 SV%
Goaltending wins championships, and the Six have some of the best in the league.
2. They're committing to defense
Ask any hockey coach (but especially head coach Geraldine Heaney) and they’ll tell you that defense wins championships, and the Toronto Six are no exception.
Things have just clicked this season in a way that they hadn’t in the previous two. Players’ strengths complement each other and make up for any weaknesses that might exist. It’s not just the defenders, either; forwards are stepping up to backcheck and block shots when necessary.
Instead of relying exclusively on goaltending, the Six have gotten markedly better in their own end. Everybody wants to be the hero and score the game-wining goal, but equally important are the game-saving shot blocks and play-starting takeaways.
3. They’re going to play three full periods
Geraldine Heaney got progressively happier with her team over the course of the three game semifinal series against the Whale. After they lost the first game, she believed that they had only played one good period; the third. The next day she saw two good periods, and Toronto walked away with the overtime win. In Game 3, Heaney finally saw a full 60 minutes.
When the Six are dialed in and playing the game the way they want to, they're one of the hardest teams in the PHF to beat. It's in Toronto's mistakes that other teams are able to make things happen. The Whitecaps will be looking to pounce on any lapses in judgement or concentration, so it's vital that the Six don't give them anything to take advantage of.