PHF Isobel Cup Semifinal Preview: Toronto and Connecticut Go The Distance
Isobel Cup Playoffs Semifinal Game 3
Connecticut Whale (3) at Toronto Six (2)
Monday, March 20, 6:00 p.m., Mattamy Athletic Centre
Series tied 1-1
Arizona can't handle both of them... so one must win today.
It's a Monday evening showdown in downtown Toronto as two of the most well-matched teams we've seen in a while fight for a spot in the Isobel Cup Final in Tempe, Arizona next Sunday.
How we got here
Game 1 - 5-3 Connecticut
The Connecticut Whale struck first Friday afternoon and controlled most of the game, putting four up on Elaine Chuli. Michela Cava had a monster third period with two goals to get the Toronto Six within one before Taylor Girard struck the final nail with an empty-netter.
Connecticut's power play and secondary scoring factored heavily into their win, while the Six were a bit undisciplined but finally got into a groove late before the ENG.
Game 2 - 3-2(OT) Toronto
Saturday was Toronto's revenge, coming from Chuli and Brittany Howard. While the Whale got on the board first for the second time, Howard answered back with two goals to erase both a 1-0 and a 2-1 deficit (with the first being an electric shorthanded breakaway goal).
From there, it was a dead heat, with Chuli and Abbie Ives making big saves to keep it at two goals for either side. Chuli, in particular, staved off some excellent scoring chances to force OT, where Emma Woods capitalized on the odd-skater rush and kept the Six alive for one more game.
What to expect
Both teams are going to play with an edge, for sure. The Whale took Saturday's loss in stride, "It's a series -- this is what we wanted, and we got it," Connecticut head coach Colton Orr said postgame Saturday. They're certainly not losing any sleep over it, and they'll be keen to get back to their dominance with puck possession and protecting their netminder.
Defense wins championships, which could be their difference-maker as they come down to the wire. The Whale have played some of their most cohesive hockey to date, but they feel like they have even more in the tank -- look for them to push hard and leave even more on the table tonight.
"Our whole team, we've been preaching D-zone all year, and I think the playoffs have come to a point where D-zone is going to be so important for us," Marchment told the media after Saturday's loss.
For their part, the Six will look to build off their momentum from the previous win and continue strengthening their team defense, something they've been working on for a while. They've supported Chuli fairly well to this point, but they will need to rein themselves in and avoid letting Connecticut's power play see any time on the ice.
Another key will be in the start the have offensively -- they took a while to get started in both games and have had to play catch-up, which has had varying results. To avoid that, they'll have to strike first and keep the pressure on throughout 60 minutes.