With their first game under their belt and little to no rest, the 6ix took on the Minnesota Whitecaps. The very same Whitecaps that finished in second place last season.
The result was one of the wildest and most captivating games of hockey I have seen in my life.
The experts will tell you hockey is played at 5v5 for most of the game. Nobody told the 6ix or the Whitecaps. Seventeen (17!!!!!) penalties were called in this game (seven for the 6ix, ten for the Whitecaps). We saw 5v4, 4v4, 4v3, you name it, it happened.
Watching yesterday I felt one of the larger shortcomings for the 6ix was their power play. It felt disjointed and out of sync. The creativity was not lacking, nor was the talent, but as we said yesterday, practice can only do so much.
Today the 6ix had no such issues. Their first unit of Sarah Steele (#6, D), Brooke Boquist (#19, F), Shiann Darkangelo (#27, F), Breanna Wilson-Bennett (#11, F), and Emma Woods (#67, F) was on fire. They were able to make clear entries and, even more importantly, were able to set up the 1-3-1 formation we only saw glimpses of in Game 1.
A strong power play hopefully gives you some momentum at the very least. In this case they got the prize several times tonight.
Wilson-Bennett buried the first goal in Toronto 6ix history. A pass right through the slot bounced around and ended on #11’s tape. She makes no mistake. That shot goes top shelf. 1-0 for the 6ix.
Ten minutes into the first period Amy Curlew goes hard on the forecheck. The lack of time and space she leaves the defender forces an error and Curlew has the puck on the half wall with a streaking Grant-Mentis in the slot. Curlew gets tripped and somehow still manages to make a perfect pass. Grant-Mentis SNIPES it and the 6ix draw a penalty on the amazing effort of Curlew. Quite the goal.
The ensuing power play gave us a small glimpse at a recurring issue in this game: giving up shorthanded odd man rushes. Why is that important? Well, you’ll see soon. Unfortunately for the 6ix that would lead to a weird goal off a Whitecaps’ players skate. Fortunately for the 6ix the goal was disallowed because… well actually I don’t really know. It seem the referee called it a kicking motion, but to me she was thrown into the net. As usual, that ref will forget more about hockey than I will ever know.
Late in the third Wilson-Bennett benefits from a great in-tight pass from Darkengelo for a nice team goal. 3-0!
Late in the first the 6ix are down two players. They fight off the 5 on 3, but are unable to keep the Whitecaps at bay for the duration of the second penalty. 3-1.
On a 4 on 4 in the middle of the second, star of the game, Wilson-Bennett tips a hard shot from Sarah Steele. 4-1!!!!!.
Just when you thought the 6ix would settle into a more defensive game and shut it down for the night, Boquist has absolutely no mercy and throws a pass you can only describe as perfection. Taylor Woods won’t let it go to waste. 5-1!!!
At this point everyone is thinking the same thing: “stop they’re already dead”
To which the Whitecaps would say ….
In quick succession to end the second period the Whitecaps bang out two goals.
If you’ve ever followed a Toronto hockey team and their leads in games………………………
The third period was a series of power plays back and forth. Unfortunately our old friend the shorthanded breakaway was present again with 8 mins left in the period.
Not only does Audra Richards score but she draws a penalty. So its 5-4 with a 5 on 4 to come.
(As a side note: the NHL should adopt this rule. A goal on the play does nothing to negate the penalty called. Would lead to more offence. I am always open to rule changes that cause more goals.)
Taking a penalty with 5 mins left in a game holding a one goal lead is not ideal. Taking two is a recipe for disaster.
What a disaster it was. A 5 on 3 power play for the Whitecaps late and the game is tied 5-5. The Toronto Maple….. sorry, the Toronto 6ix blow the lead and we head to overtime.
Overtime bears no fruit. IT WAS SO CLOSE YET SO FAR.
We head to a shooutout.
A tough loss it was @TicTacTomar. The 6ix get a single point from their first two games.
A trusted coach I spoke to yesterday spoke of the 6ix forecheck and a few star players yesterday.
“A recurring theme throughout the game was the strong pressure that Toronto puts on the opposing team. The [Whitecaps] had little time controlling the puck before a white jersey was on them. Whoever hunts the puck knows their teammates are in perfect position to help. The amount of mistakes they forced are a sing of future success.”
“One player who didn’t seem to lose any jump after playing two games in 24hours was Grant-Mentis. What a fun player to watch. The speed is killer.”
“Ridgewell was constantly calm and poised in the net. She made several saves on odd man rushes to keep the game close down the stretch.” Those pesky odd man rushes. Have to clean those up.
Some good things I noticed today I would like to highlight as well:
On the 5 on 3 Digit Murphy occasionally threw on 2 forwards and a defender. A brilliant decision for short stints. The reverse triangle freaked out the power play unit and allowed the 6ix to clear. I loved that.
The fact that the 6ix scored 5 goals is amazing. Hard to teach offence and it seems like the 6ix have the talent they promised they would.
Onwards and Upwards! LETS GET THOSE PANCAKES!