Whitecaps struggle against Six

by HANNAH BEVIS

Despite some improvements in their play, especially in Sunday’s contest, the Whitecaps were unable to keep up with the Toronto Six, dropping both of their games over the weekend. In the team’s first contest, the Six managed to shut out the Whitecaps in a 4-0 win, and Toronto edged out Minnesota 2-1 in their second matchup.

“Our game plan was to take care of some of the small discipline things we had been working on in practice,” co-head coach Ronda Engelhardt said about the team’s first game. “We wanted to clean up areas that we struggled with last series and have a focus for each line.”

Despite that focus, the Whitecaps couldn’t stop a hot Toronto team. The Six struck first on Saturday on the power play. Michela Cava was in the right place at the right time to send a rebound past a sprawling Amanda Leveille.

The Six scored again on the extra skater advantage four minutes into the second period, when Emma Woods sniped the puck past Leveille for a top shelf tally.

The Whitecaps appeared to pull within one goal with just over two minutes left in the second period, when Stephanie Anderson shot a puck that at first seemed to go in the net before bouncing back out. Upon review, the referees took the goal back, and the Six retained their two-goal lead.

“I think at that time, we needed to get some momentum and excitement to build off of, so a goal would have helped that,” Engelhardt said. “Our reaction to these types of things needs to be to focus more on what we have control over, so we could not get stuck or concerned with things that we couldn’t do anything about.”

Tori Charron extended the Six’s lead in the third period, scoring her first PHF goal at 15:20 in the third period. Toronto scored their final goal of the game with nine seconds remaining, a shot from Taylor Woods that snuck past Leveille.

The Whitecaps came back hungry for a win, and Sunday’s match was much closer on the scoreboard than Saturday’s was.

“We saw progress in our team today. We did a much better job of creating offense and taking away their scoring chances,” Engelhardt said. “We were more determined and gritty around the net and fought hard. We also got back to playing our penalty kill the way we wanted, which was helpful.”

Audra Morrison got things started early for the ‘Caps, netting her first goal of the year in dramatic fashion. The forward flew up the right wing and sniped top shelf on Elaine Chuli, giving Minnesota a one goal lead less than a minute into the contest.

Unfortunately, that was the only time the Whitecaps lit the lamp. Toronto scored eight minutes after Morrison’s initial goal, a shot from Shiann Darkangelo, and then got another goal just over a minute later from Mikayla Grant-Mentis.

The lack of offense is something that Minnesota will focus on going into the holiday break.

“One goal in two games isn’t going to win us a lot of games,” Engelhardt said. “We struggled game one breaking it out and played too much time in our d zone, but saw improvements in game two.”

“(Our) plan is to build on what we did well Sunday. We have to get hungry to score goals and find ways to give ourselves better chances,” Engelhardt continued. “This starts with how we get out of our zone, move through the neutral zone to create our scoring chances, and decisions made offensively. The team isn’t happy with where we are at, and hopefully can dial in second half as we commit to the process of getting better each day.”