Excellence is a key theme as the Toronto 6ix enter their third season in the PHF
In the lead up the the 2022-23 Premier Hockey Federation season, the Toronto 6ix took a moment to enshrine the past, with a nod to the future. On October 16th, key players from their inaugural league goal, Brooke Boquist and Lindsay Eastwood, had their respective jersey and stick enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, along with the scored puck itself. With fellow Hall of Famer Geraldine Heaney, joining her former teammate and inductee, (Toronto 6ix General Manager) Angela James on the team, the 6ix are taking things to a higher level for their third season in the league.
"Well, they're all new to me so it's a little bit different, so I just run it the way as same as I run any other team and it's been pretty exciting... I think it was just a lot of skills development in the summer and getting everyone up to speed in their individual skills in the last couple of weeks, we've implemented a few systems, don't want to overload at the beginning and then take it from there... You're going to play the way we ask you to play but I give them freedom in the offensive zone to be creative. We've had one lineup with two Czech players (Vanisova and Laskova) who know each other very well and Leah Lum with them as well and they're just so creative so I don't want to take that away from them by making it too structured. So depending on the way the games go, I would like to give them a bit of freedom but within a bit of structure. They had a very good (last) season and then once they got into the playoffs look what happened. But playoffs is a different format as it is one-off games and they're not a big series as you would like, so every game is a playoff game. You've only got 24 games so it's totally different you've got to show up every game and there's no time to take any nights off." - Toronto 6ix Head Coach, Geraldine Heaney
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The Toronto 6ix also had a change at the top, with Sami Jo Small becoming the Team President. Small is no stranger to success, having won three Olympic medals as a goaltender for Team Canada. Small has already left her mark on building the brand, which included team attendance at a Toronto Blue Jays regular season game, where goaltender Elaine Chuli threw out the first pitch.
"That was a once in a life time thing, that was super special to be able to do that with the whole team and in front of all of Toronto, that was pretty special.... Sami is a great mentor and a great person in general, goaltending aside, I've known her for a number of years and super excited to have her on our side here and definitely great to have a resource like that and bounce ideas off them. Super happy to have her leading the charge here in Toronto. " - Elaine Chuli, Toronto 6ix Goaltender
*Check out our interview with 6ix Goaltender Elaine Chuli*
The Opening Weekend against Minnesota Whitecaps on November 5 and 6 will feature two powerful themes. Opening Day will be the "Power of She" in conjunction with team sponsor, Athleta, empowering women and girls across Canada. The second day will be unique as it will pay homage to 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Herb Carnegie. Herb will be represented by his daughter, Bernice, as well as other prominent BIPOC athletes on the day, as well as the Black Girl Hockey Club, led by T6 defender, Saroya Tinker.
"I think we have a really strong group here and I'm really excited to get started with our games in November... I think we're really strong on the back end and we've really got to be confident there and take care of the house but at the same time we've really got some scoring opportunity up front. We've got some big new forwards coming in, Brittany Howard is going to be great and I think we're going to be expecting to see some big goals but we're also going to be shutting people down on the back end and there's no worries there. Come out and support us. I think for those who haven't seen a women's hockey game, it's fast paced, we're very skilled and I think it's something that everyone should come out and see, so come out and watch us." - Toronto 6ix Defender, Saroya Tinker
Toronto promises to be a force to be reckoned with once again in 2022-23. As part of this, the team has signed new players to help with the scoring effort, after the departure of Mikyla Grant-Mentis in the offseason. Czech Interational, Tereza Vanisova, Brittany Howard and Leah Lum are among names to watch on the ice, particularly when the team driving towards goal.
"It's been awesome. I like the team, I like the conditions provided... so it's been great so far. I'm feeling good actually, I took a few months off during the summer and I got better so I'm feeling pretty good right now." - Toronto 6ix and Czech forward, Tereza Vanisova
*Check out our interview with 6ix Forward and Czech International, Tereza Vanisova*
"It's been awesome far... really excited to get underway with some games.... To play Montreal I think it's always a special moment, Toronto vs Montreal and it's always a tense rivalry so I think we are looking forward to playing them throughout the season. (On Small, Heaney and James) I think just sharing their experience is huge for us, obviously they are winners and that's what we want to do at the end of the day." - Toronto 6ix Forward, Brittany Howard