Belonging to an exceptional group of highly talented skaters that contributed a new chapter to Canadian hockey history, the majesty of the Isobel Cup has provided Kati Tabin with a strong sense of fulfillment. Having once played for Canada’s Under-18 National Team, the opportunity to hoist the hallowed Cup, allowing the Toronto Six to become the first Canadian team to achieve this pinnacle, provided the prodigious blueliner with a tremendous feeling of national pride.
Following a six-game stint with the Connecticut Whale during the 2021-22 season, her pro debut taking place on November 14, 2021 versus the Boston Pride, Tabin took on a full-time role with Toronto for 2022-23. Her debut with the club foreshadowed the championship finale. Hosting the Minnesota Whitecaps at Canlan Ice Sports, the November 5, 2022, affair was decided in overtime. With Brittany Howard recording the game-winning tally, Tabin earned the assist. Worth noting, she also assisted on the game’s opening goal, also scored by Howard, both players enjoying their Six debuts with a heroic bookend.
Another unique connection emerged in Tabin’s inaugural season in Toronto. Along with team captain Shiann Darkangelo, Emma Greco and Emma Woods, all four were alumnae of the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Having skated with the program from 2016-20, Tabin never missed a game in her final three seasons, displaying a reliability and perseverance that made her an iron woman. Bestowed the honor of the Bobcats captaincy in her senior season, she led all blueliners with 18 points, her offensive flair landing her a well deserved place on the ECAC Third Team All-Stars.
“There were four alums! Me, Shiann, Greco, and Emma Woods! Yet sharing that moment with them was amazing. You are just built different at Quinnipiac and I truly believe that helped us be successful this year. Winning is so much fun, but most of all, winning is so much fun with teammates who you know give it their all every single day.”
Among Tabin’s proud achievements in a breakthrough season, finishing with a solid 18 points, the prestigious recognition as a PHF All-Star signified her standing among the league’s best blueliners. Contested at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), located inside the historic Maple Leaf Gardens, an unprecedented three rosters comprised the All-Star Format, consisting of Team Canada, Team USA and Team World. Earning an assist in the All-Star Final, as Canada bested Team World to emerge as the top team of the event, it marked the first of several highlights at the MAC for Tabin.
Taking into account that the first round of the playoffs were also held at the MAC, there was an understandable sense of deja vu for Tabin. Competing against her former team, as the Whale provided the opposition, the Bobcats were represented on both sides of the ice.
Worth noting, also a member of the Bobcats Class of 2020, Abbie Ives, a multiple PHF All-Star stood between the pipes for the Whale. In a classic playoff series, Tabin delivered on all accounts. With a 3-2 overtime in the second game of the series, there was a sense of serendipity as three Bobcats alumnae were involved in the epic goal. Of note, Darkangelo and Tabin both earned the assists on a goal scored by Emma Woods.
Tabin proved even more impressive in the third and deciding game. Involved in all three of Toronto’s goals in the victory, allowing the third year club to qualify for the Isobel Cup Finals, the theme of coincidence continued. As Tabin scored the game’s final goal, Brittany Howard recorded the assist, rekindling an offensive synergy from the home opener. Undeniably, the MAC proved a very enjoyable venue, the sense of achievement beginning with an exceptional All-Star opportunity.
“The All-Star Game was a really cool experience. I think whenever you get the chance to play with the best players in the league, it’s a lot of fun. The whole weekend was set up well. I think my favourite part was attending the event the PHF put on at The Hockey Hall of Fame.”
With the Six prevailing in a highly emotional 4-3 overtime final versus the Minnesota Whitecaps, Tabin recorded four shots on net while blocking a shot. As the majesty of an Isobel Cup championship represented a shared milestone among all the wondrous women of the Six, the feeling of achievement afterwards took on a highly emotional meaning for Tabin.
In the aftermath of the championship, the celebration and acclaim which followed included a proud major league feeling. Invited by the Blue Jays for a pregame ceremony, decked out in home jerseys with the Isobel Cup in tow, smiles were evident all around.
As Tabin was among the first members of the championship roster to enjoy a day with the Isobel Cup, the smiles continued, bringing the coveted prize to her hometown of Winnipeg. The experience allowed for an heroic homecoming, as the Cup enjoyed a place at Balmoral Hall, where Tabin emerged as an elite talent.
Gracing the ice in the paraphernalia of the Balmoral Hall Blazers during her teens, also one of the province’s premier junior teams, Tabin inspired a new generation of female competitors with the display of the Cup. As a side note, fellow Six blueliner Taylor Woods, originally from Morden, Manitoba, not only played with the Blazers, she also wore the Maple Leaf with the Under-18 National Team.
As the visit to Winnipeg provided a feeling of full circle, one also emphasized by winning a championship alongside three Bobcats alumnae, bringing the Cup to Balmoral Hall encompassed gratitude. For Tabin, the day with the Cup represented a thank you, not only displaying a milestone in her career, but a display of class, graciously recognizing the inspiration that allowed her to achieve her hockey dreams.
“Attending the Blue Jays game and going on the field was surreal!! That was such a cool moment to share with my teammates and Izzy. It was a great day
Later, I was pumped to bring the Cup to BH. That was the first time I was back there since I graduated… which is crazy to think about. It was great to be able to show the Cup to teachers who helped me so much while I was there. I owe that school a lot. I went there from grade 7 to 12 and they helped me grow not only on the ice but also off the ice academically. If I had never attended BH, I probably would not have ended up at Quinnipiac, so bringing the Cup there that day was super special to me.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated“
Featured image by Lori Bolliger= Instagram @loribolligerphotography