The Toronto Six, Canada’s first National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) team have announced they will be based out of Canlan Ice Sports at York.
The team was announced on April 22, 2020 as the sixth NWHL team and the first from Canada to join the league. Two months later in May, the team came out with its name, logo, and other branding.
The team was supposed to debut in the Isobel Cup scheduled for fall of 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the championship to be cancelled and rescheduled for January 2021.
The Canlan facility will serve as the home for the team, meaning in addition to playing games, they will be training on and off the ice at the centre. The facilities include an Olympic-size ice rink with 1,200 seats, a 4,000 square foot training facility, and a locker room will be built specifically for the team.
“Our first priority in a home rink was finding somewhere fans across Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area can come to see the Six play,” President Digit Murphy said in an interview with the NWHL. “Canlan is in an accessible location with all the amenities we could’ve asked for, and we can’t wait to step on the ice of our new arena and for the puck to drop signaling the start of season six.”
The team will feature many prospects from Canada, as well as international players. Kristen Barbara, who will play defence for the Toronto Six, was a York Lions defence as well. During her stay at York from 2012 to 2016 she won multiple awards and recognitions.
The facility was already in use by the York Lions men’s and women’s hockey teams. Although the building features multiple ice rinks, there is only one with 1,200 seats and an Olympic rink.
The bonus about the Toronto Six and York Lions sharing a home is the opportunity for the teams to face each other.
The York Lions games were usually scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays in the evening, allowing for maximum attendance at games. There is reason for concern over possible issues with scheduling in the future once the conflicting seasons begin.
Jennifer Myers, executive director of York Athletics & Recreation, responded to the possible issue: “I know that no matter what schedules are designed for York and the Toronto Six, we find a solution to utilizing the main rink.”
However, Dan Church, head coach of the women’s hockey team, confirmed that “York has the right of first refusal as part of the lease agreement between York University and Canlan. It will not impact our schedule.”
The announcement means that York will have another professional team based out of the Keele campus. The York 9 Football Club (FC) has announced that the renovated York Lions Stadium will become their home once it is completed in January.
“Any opportunity for us to partner with a high performance program is welcomed,” Myers says.
The bonus of the Six and Lions sharing a home, is the opportunity for the teams to face each other. This idea has already been proposed but has to wait due to the pandemic.
“As of now we have no plans to play the Toronto Six although they have reached out to see if that is a possibility,” Church says.