With the bubble up and running in Lake Placid, N.Y., the NWHL and its players have finally been able to get back on the ice. The highlight, at least for Canadians, is the debut of the Toronto 6ix to the league.
The NWHL has finally begun its 2020-21 campaign in a bubble season tournament format that began on Jan. 23. The bubble is based in Lake Placid’s Herb Brooks Arena, named after the coach of the 1980 Olympic gold medal U.S Miracle on Ice hockey team.
The bubble format has been used throughout the pandemic by professional leagues to keep players safe while letting them continue to compete.
“They have done the best they can with a tough situation, they have a lot of constraints,” said Six coach Digit Murphy, discussing how the bubble season has been scheduled to help best fit the players work schedules on top of their professional hockey schedules.
The long-awaited debut of the SIx marks Canada’s return to centre stage in women’s hockey following the demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2019.
“To be behind the bench again, it’s a very fun experience,” Murphy said, talking about the feeling of being on the bench and the emotional return in the team’s first game.
“There is not one person that isn’t smiling,” she said.
Murphey said it’s important to create an enjoyable environment for the players, allowing them to get back on the ice while creating a transparent team with everyone being able to communicate.
The Toronto Six had their first two games on the weekend of Jan. 23 and 24, losing the opener to Metropolitan Riveters 3-0, and then losing in overtime to Minnesota Whitecaps.
The team posted its first win with a 2-1 score against the Boston Pride on Jan. 26. and continued their winning ways on Jan. 27 beating the Buffalo Beauts 4-2.
Samantha Ridgewell, part of the Six’s goaltending tandem with Elaine Chuli, got the nod for the Sunday’s game against the Whitecaps.
“I was nervous before the game, but once we hit the ice for warm-ups, you just get back into your groove and it doesn’t feel like a year has passed,” Ridgewell said.
With the NWHL bubble going smoothly and the Toronto Six holding the top spot in the league as of Thursday, the season has had an interesting start for Torontonians, to say the least.
All games are being shown live on twitch.tv and the finals are being broadcasted on NBC Sports in early February.
With the publicity the league is currently receiving it expects many of its new fans will follow for years to come.