On Monday evening at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto, the Toronto Six booked their spot to the 2023 Isobel Cup Final. The TSix won a deciding Game 3 against the visiting Connecticut Whale by a final score of 3-0. Toronto goaltender Elaine Chuli had her best game of the series, making 31 saves to score the shutout and deny the Whale a chance at a second consecutive trip to the Isobel Cup Final.
Toronto got their offense and goals from Michela Cava, Leah Lum, and Kati Tabin, who scored on the powerplay mere seconds into the advantage. Penalty wise it was pretty quiet all game, with the home team getting the only powerplay opportunity of the game, and they took full advantage of it with a great setup and a bomb of a shot from the point from Tabin.
"They are a very good team, and you saw the last two games we were trailing, and we were in a do-or-die situation," Toronto captain Shiann Darkangelo said postgame. "Everybody is out there giving their all, and it was all about keeping our composure.”
That included staying out of the penalty box. The Connecticut Whale scored two power play goals and a shorthanded goal in Game 1. Toronto kept things, for the most part, at five-on-five hockey and Tabin potted a power play goal to seal the deal.
I asked Darkangelo about the special teams factor and the fact they were able to capitalize on their only chance of the game. "It swung in our favor at the end and it was nice and quick and that goal gave us another jolt of energy and a 2-0 lead is the worse lead in hockey and it went our way."
Chuli, who deservedly won Player of the Game honors, made 31 saves en route to her shutout performance. "I am super proud of the way we battled today. I think that is one of the best games I have seen this team play this year," Chuli said.
If tonight was their best, Toronto hopes that come Sunday they can level up their play and bring home their first Isobel Cup title. They will face the Minnesota Whitecaps, who knocked off the two-time defending champions the Boston Pride.
The matchup marks the first time two women head coaches will square off in the Isobel Cup Final. Geraldine Heaney and the Toronto Six will take on Rhonda Engelheart and the Minnesota Whitecaps Sunday night.
"I think it’s quite amazing and it shows the sport is growing and it’s women playing hockey," Chuli said about the all-women coaches duel."There are a lot of good female coaches, so it’s kinda nice and good representation in the female game."
The Isobel Cup Final takes place Sunday at Mullet Arena in Tempe, Arizona. The Minnesota Whitecaps look to add their first title since winning the Isobel Cup in 2019, their inaugural season. The Toronto Six, the second-ever expansion team (behind the Minnesota Whitecaps) are seeking their first PHF championship since joining the league in 2020.