A trio of specialty team goals powered the Connecticut Whale offense to a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Six on Friday afternoon at Mattamy Athletic Centre in game one of their Isobel Cup Playoff semifinal.
The Whale have now won seven-straight games dating back to a 6-4 win against T6 on Feb. 19. Taylor Girard earned Player of the Game honors with a two-goal performance including the shorthanded game-winner just 25 seconds into the third period. During the regular season she set a PHF record with four goals on the penalty kill and the team led the entire PHF with eight.
“We came in with a good mindset, trusting each other and battling for one another,” said Girard. “Scoring shorthanded is huge and nobody really expects you to do it,” said Girard. “Our penalty kill this year has really taken off in comparison to last year. It’s nice to be able to go on the PK and know that we might actually score on this and that we’re going on offense. Those goals aren’t going in without Kennedy (Marchment) battling and getting those amazing passes over to me. Playing with Kennedy is so nice because she makes those unreal passes.”
Marchment set up both of Girard’s goals to extend her record-setting 18-game regular season point-streak into the playoffs. Their second connection was an empty-net dagger at 18:42 of the final frame to thwart the late T6 push. The Whale initially built a two-goal lead on a pair of first period goals in a 51 second span. First it was a Justine Reyes blast on the power play at 14:24, and then a Melissa Samoskevich snipe off an attacking zone faceoff at 15:15. Lenka Serdar tipped a Caitrin Lonergan shot to make it 3-1 at 16:28 of the second period, converting another for the league’s top regular season power play.
“I thought early in the game we were going, we had control of the puck, good possession, but 4-1 we took our foot off the gas and they’re too skilled of a team and have too much talent and speed to sit back in a game like that,” said Whale head coach Colton Orr. “Our special teams have been going and did a really good job. We’re aggressive. We’ve got the skill and we’ve got the speed and we like to try and take advantage.”
Emma Woods scored Toronto’s first goal at 17:35 of the first period to cut the deficit in half, but it was the sharp-shooting Michela Cava who really gave the team life with two goals from tricky angles at 1:42 and 6:21 of the third period to bring T6 within one.
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