Capturing an Isobel Cup championship in their third year of existence, victory was only part of the narrative for the Toronto Six. Among the most endearing facets, highlighted by the first Cup game contested on official NHL game ice at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona, seven players from the championship roster were also part of the inaugural season.
Among these compelling charter members includes the highly skilled Taylor Woods. Reputed as a highly reliable member of the Six blueline, testament to the A on her jersey, Woods made her franchise debut on January 23, 2021. Part of the condensed season taking place in Lake Placid, New York, Woods first goal for the franchise took place one day later versus the Minnesota Whitecaps.
Fast forward to 2023, the Whitecaps played another part in Woods hockey odyssey as a valued member of the Six. Reaching the milestone of their first appearance in the Isobel Cup Finals, the Six aspired to become the first Canadian based franchise to reach such lofty heights.
With the Whitecaps providing the opposition, Woods scored the greatest goal of her Six career. With a 2-2 tie after two periods of play, Jonna Albers provided the lead for the Whitecaps merely 20 seconds into the third period. Woods tied the score at the 7:56 mark, the Toronto fans on-hand erupting in enthusiastic approval.
Worth noting, Woods has scored more goals versus Minnesota than any other franchise in PHF play. The timely third period goal, definitely the greatest in Woods pro career, proved to be a key turning point for the Six, as goaltender Elaine Chuli shut down the opposing Whitecaps offense, forcing overtime.
“It is one of the top clutch moments of my hockey career for sure. Hockey, especially the women’s game is all about transitions, and I just trusted my instincts to drive the net for the rebound. Amazing play and effort by our forwards and my d-partner to cause the turnover! It was really a full unit effort.”
Of note, the 2023 Isobel Cup marks the third professional sports championship for Toronto in four years. Starting with the Raptors remarkable run to the 2019 NBA title, followed by Chad Kelly leading the Argonauts to victory in the 2022 Grey Cup, the collective efforts of Woods and her Six teammates provided another glorious chapter. With a visit to city hall, an audience with Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie representing another terrific example of civic pride, it marked a celebratory closure in a memorable month of March for Woods.
Before the postseason heroics, another pivotal milestone occurred for the admirable Woods. Balancing hockey and career with a fascinating pursuit in the field of Strongwoman competitions, an empowering event solidified her standing as world class athlete, and highly admirable role model. Taylor Woods claimed the world championship at the 2023 Arnold Amateur Strongwoman World Championships.
Contested in Columbus, Ohio, the event named after the iconic bodybuilder and film star, Woods amassed a total of 22.65 points to capture first place. As a side note, fellow Canadian Payton Day finished eighth. With a total of seven events, including Viking press reps, a loading race, the dumbbell press and deadlift reps, among others, the ability to excel demonstrates a tremendous self-discipline and work ethic equally prevalent in her approach to hockey.
“This is something special for this group. It has been three seasons in the making. We grew, learned how to be a playoff team, and stuck together. It will be a great time celebrating with the City of Toronto!”
In a career synonymous with winning, from the 2011 Esso Cup to a pair of ECAC titles as a member of the Ivy League’s Cornell Big Red, the professional ranks have been equally prosperous to Woods. Wearing the green of the Markham Thunder, Woods enjoyed the only title in franchise history, defeating the Kunlun Red Star in the 2018 Clarkson Cup. The contest also featured a tinge of coincidence as Shiann Darkangelo, the Six captain since opening faceoff in Lake Placid, skated for the Red Star.
Five years later, Woods joins a very rare and celebrated group to have won both the Isobel and Clarkson Cup championships. With this tremendous dual serving as an exclamation point, a strong sense of gratitude envelops Woods. Both teams filled with an indomitable spirit, character performances translating into memorable championships, the opportunity to belong to such a pair of iconic and lasting teams in the Canadian hockey fabric is destined to remain a source of residual warmth.
“Yes, it has been exactly five years ago since the Markham Thunder won the Cup. That moment was special, with a tight niche group, battling back from an 8-game losing streak, and also making my pro debut as a defense. Both teams had valiant performances and I am just grateful to get the opportunity to be a part of both teams.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Featured image by: Lori Bolliger @loribollligerphotography