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Breanne Wilson-Bennett brings spirit to Toronto Six

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Holding a celebrated place among Toronto’s “Group of Seven”, Breanne Wilson-Bennett is a portrait in character and resilience. Serving as an alternate captain, belonging to a tremendous trinity of leadership featuring Shiann Darkangelo and Taylor Woods, Having masterfully assembled a brilliant career, skating for Canada’s Under-18 National Team, followed by standing as a two-sport star with Colgate University, leading the Raiders to the 2018 NCAA Frozen Four, the prestige of an Isobel Cup championship provides an empowering exclamation point.

Although the path to the elusive Cup was three years in the making, a first place finish in the expansion season of 20-21 providing plenty of optimism, Wilson-Bennett faced an obstacle. Sadly, the desolation of an unforeseen family loss last autumn proved highly visceral. Showing an admirable perseverance in spite of such difficult circumstances, courageously returning to the ice, Wilson-Bennett continued to provide a solid consistency for the Six.

Wilson-Bennett by: Lori Bolliger

Ending the regular season with goals in consecutive games versus the Boston Pride, including the game-winning tally in a hard fought 5-4 victory on March 12, Wilson-Bennett earned First Star of the Game honors the day prior. Providing assists in the first two games of the playoffs, rising to the occasion versus the opposing Connecticut Whale, she enjoyed one more opportunity for heroics.

Qualifying for their first ever Isobel Cup Finals, Wilson-Bennett restored the lead for the Six finding the back of the net at the 10:27 mark of the second period on Minnesota goaltender Amanda Leveille, breaking a 1-1 deadlock. Marking one of the greatest goals in her Six career, there was also a feeling of full circle.

Of note, the second game in franchise history, contested on Olympic ice at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York on January 24, 2021 marked an important moment. Facing off versus the Whitecaps, a 6-5 shootout win not only saw Lindsay Eastwood score the first-ever goal for the nascent Six. Scoring twice in regulation, Wilson-Bennett made her mark with the Six’s first multi-goal performance.

Fast forward to March 23, and another emotional win versus Minnesota, a 4-3 overtime finale to decide the Isobel Cup champion provided Wilson-Bennett with an opportunity to bring jubilation to the conclusion of her season, after one which sadly started with heartbreaking desolation. Undeniably, the glorious outcome allowed a beautiful tribute for family and team alike. Able to hoist the coveted Cup with the presence of her family in the stands made the achievement more meaningful.

Toronto6_Championship by: Lori Bolliger

“It was so much fun to have my family there in Tempe to witness our big win. Unfortunately, I lost my father unexpectedly at the beginning of our season. Therefore, to win the Cup surrounded by my family, it was a really great way to finish off a difficult year.

Scoring was a nice cherry on top, but it was the team effort that got us there.”

Worth noting, a heartwarming display of teamwork took place before the holiday break, recognizing another remarkable facet of Wilson-Bennett’s character. With the Six hosting a game on December 11 for Diabetes Awareness, it marked a highly encouraging show of support, emblematic of a compassionate culture.

While starring for Colgate, Wilson-Bennett received the devastating diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. Although it meant making several adjustments, the enthusiasm for the game never wavered, and her solid skill set never declined. Undeniably, the ability to excel on the ice in spite of such a life changing situation only furthered her standing as a role model.

The Diabetes Awareness event proved highly poignant for Wilson-Bennett. With fans gaining a newfound level of admiration for her efforts, the feeling of unity on such an important day saw the Six deliver on all accounts. Facing off versus the Metropolitan Riveters, the final result was a fantastic 5-2 victory, powered by Brittany Howard’s hat trick.

As a side note, Toronto’s previous professional women’s team, the Furies, co-founded by current Six president Sami Jo Small, also featured a courageous player balancing career with diabetes. Also playing at forward, Anissa Gamble skated for the Furies during their final season, a roster which also featured Elaine Chuli and Shiann Darkangelo. Coincidentally, Gamble and Brittany Howard were also teammates, skating at the NCAA level with the RMU Colonials.

Certainly, the remarkable team culture in place, has provided Wilson-Bennett with plenty of inspiration. During the week leading up to the Finals, contested in Tempe, Arizona, friendships grew stronger, unifying the players towards the collective goal of becoming the first Canadian based team to capture the fabled Isobel Cup.

“I think any amount of time that you spend with teammates is a great time to bond. We had the best group of women and we all became super close. The sunshine and the atmosphere in Arizona definitely did not hurt. Yet, no matter the circumstances we find a way to have fun altogether.

Winning the Cup was a long time coming for us. We have had an incredibly talented and capable group since the inaugural season. We built an incredible foundation and it all came together this year.”

Toronto6_Championship by: Lori Bolliger

Equally satisfying for Wilson-Bennett was the celebration that followed. As the Six represent Toronto’s most notable professional women’s sports franchise, the Isobel Cup victory provided an ascension into tremendous relevance. Holding a place of high regard as local heroines, a plethora of events proved highly enjoyable. From an invitation to City Hall for an audience with Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, along with a rousing ovation from fans at Scotiabank Centre, the Six on-hand for a Maple Leafs home date, the increased awareness for such wondrous women emerged as a feel-good story.

Among the opportunities for celebration, none tugged at the heartstrings more for Wilson-Bennett than the excitement of a pregame ceremony with the Toronto Blue Jays. Enjoying the opportunity to throw the ceremonial first pitch, the smile revealed an ebullient demeanor, the thrill of taking the mound at Rogers Centre, prologue to another meaningful moment. As the spring and summer sees all members of the Six enjoying a day with the Cup, poised to be another special occasion for Wilson-Bennett, allowing for further celebration with proud family, simultaneously adding to an incredible accumulation of memories made.

“To be acknowledged and celebrated in the hockey community and the community at large has been awesome. We are trying to grow the game.

By getting eyes on us within the community, I think we are able to fulfill that main goal of ours. We have had a blast celebrating and we hope to continue to share the victory with our own communities as we each take the Cup home for a few days over the summer.”

All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated

Featured image by Lori Bolliger = Instagram @loribolligerphotography

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