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PHF playoffs: Toronto Six look to become first Canadian champs

PHF All-Star Emma Woods is looking to help the Toronto Six become the first Canadian team to win the league title. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Toronto Six are looking to become the first Canadian team to win the Isobel Cup in the Premier Hockey Federation playoffs.

The Six and the Minnesota Whitecaps will face off in Sunday’s championship game, which is set to be played in Phoenix at the Arizona Coyotes’ home arena. The NHL team has partnered with the league to host the PHF final in a NHL arena for the first time.

The Whitecaps finished 10-11-3 in the regular season. But even after entering the playoffs on an eight-game losing streak, they swept the hosting Boston Pride in a best-of-three semifinal series.

Boston entered as the two-time defending Isobel Cup champion and seemed set up to succeed again, with the PHF’s leading scorer in Loren Gabel (40 points) and leading goaltender in Corinne Schroeder (1.67 goals against average and 0.955 save percentage). But they could not handle the Whitecaps.

The Six bested the Connecticut Whale in the other semifinal series, claiming a 3-0 victory in Monday’s deciding Game 3.

“The last two seasons were kind of disappointments for us, so it makes you that much more hungry going into the next season,” Six forward Emma Woods told Sportsnet. “All the returners are feeling that big-time this year.

“We want to win the Isobel Cup. It’s never come back to Canada. There’s a lot of anticipation and nerves of course too, but a lot of excitement. We’re here to win.”

In her first season with the Six, Brittney Howard led the team with 16 goals (26 points). But Connecticut has the firepower to match in Kennedy Marchment, who had 17 goals on the season and was second in the league in points with 35.

This season has been a big one for the PHF, which increased its salary cap to $750,000 and next season will double that to $1.5 million. The increased investment has meant salaries for players, with some topping six figures for the first time, and momentum for the league, which stands as the only professional women’s league in North America – at least for now.

“Go back to what I probably have been saying the last five, six years,” former player Brianna Decker told SJ Hockey Now. “We need to have one league in order for this thing to work. The PHF is doing a great job. I think it’s come miles and miles compared to how they were, when they were the NWHL and when I was playing for them.

“They’re organized. They’re working on things every single day. They’re driven. Having Reagan Carey in there, it’s been a lot different. At the end of the day, we’ve got to have players all in one league in order for this to work, making it easier for fans and people who are supporting us.”

Full Playoff Schedule

Note: All game times are listed in Eastern Time. All semifinal games will air on ESPN+. *If necessary.

  • Semifinal #1: Minnesota 2, Boston 0
    • Minnesota 5, Boston 2
    • Minnesota 4, Boston 1
  • Semifinal #2: Toronto 2, Connecticut 1
    • Connecticut 5, Toronto 3
    • Toronto 3, Connecticut 2
    • Toronto 3, Connecticut 0
  • Championship: Minnesota vs. Toronto
    • Sunday, March 26 — 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2