Justin Levine
FiredUp Network Sports Writer


Saturday, March 18, 2023

Emma Woods scores overtime winner, powering Toronto Six to big semifinal win over Whale

On March 18, at Mattamy Athletic Centre, the Toronto Six (women’s pro hockey team) defeated the Connecticut Whale in overtime by a final score of 3-2 in the second game of the PHF Isobel Cup Semifinals.

“I’m very proud of every one of those players in that dressing room,” said Geraldine Heaney, Head Coach of the Toronto Six. “They’ve been working so hard and they believe in each other. It didn't matter who was playing or who wasn't getting the ice time. They were being positive and the positive energy just showed, and it just led right into the overtime.”

Looking to duplicate their early start from the semifinal opener on Friday afternoon, Connecticut’s Kennedy Marchment broke the ice just over four minutes into the opening period, tallying her first goal of the playoffs to put the visitors up early.

Representing the game’s only tally through the first twenty minutes, the Toronto Six didn’t stray from the early pressure of battling from behind, as forward Brittany Howard drove to the net a perfectly placed feed from Breanne Wilson-Bennett on a shorthanded effort, tallying her first goal of the playoffs on the power play to level the playing surface.

“Bre [Breanne Wilson-Bennett] was able to pot it through, I don’t know how she did it on that first one on the penalty kill. You can’t really jump the zone on a penalty kill, but we were able to get loose, and I was able to go top right on that one,” explained Howard after the game.

Not wasting any time in their endeavours to take the lead for a second time, captain Shannon Turner connected with forward Taylor Girard posted at the bottom of the slot, who buried the puck under the left pad of Elaine Chuli on the redirect, tallying her third goal of the playoffs to restore Connecticut’s lead and keep the Whale afloat.

Giving the Whale no time to breathe as they continued to stride onwards in what had become a busy second period, Toronto found a way to respond just over a minute later, as forward Daryl Watts found the stick blade of a determined Howard with a cross-ice feed on the doorstep, who potted her second goal of the playoffs to knot up the contest for a second consecutive period.

“My second goal was a two-on-one with Daryl [Watts] who made a great move on the goaltender [Abbie Ives], and I was able to just bat it in when the rebound was laying there,” recalled Howard of her game-tying tally.

While burying a pivotal goal to keep her team’s playoff hopes alive, both clubs struggled to get on the scoreboard amid a highly contested third period, which led the semifinal tilt into three-on-three sudden death overtime, where forward Emma Woods beat Abbie Ives top shelf with her second goal of the playoffs, which capped off a big afternoon and lifted the Toronto Six en route to a celebratory 3-2 semifinal victory.

“In the locker room, we really got the energy up today, we played for each other and that’s what’s important,” remarked Emma Woods after the game. “Playoff hockey is tough and it’s gritty and really wears on you, so staying together, being positive on the bench, supporting each other and those things pay off. It was a tight game and our emotions were high in those moments, so to stick with it and play for each other and battle until the end, that’s what made the difference today.”

“Obviously, we wanted to come out as a collective group and we played as a cohesive unit all the way through all three periods, so that's what we wanted to deliver today,” explained Howard after the game. “Anyone on our entire team can pot it in, and obviously I was the lucky stick, same with [Emma] Woods, but we played as a group today. Elaine Chuli between the pipes was great, so it was an awesome team effort.”

Making her second start of the Isobel Cup playoffs in Game 2 of the series, Elaine Chuli made 23 saves between the pipes in the winning effort.

The Toronto Six, now tied at one game apiece with the Connecticut Whale, head into a decisive third game of the Isobel Cup Semifinals set to take place on Monday evening at Toronto’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. The third game will be available for viewing on ESPN+ in the United States, and on TSN2 for viewers tuning in across Canada.