Toronto Six scorer Mikyla Grant-Mentis on track to be NWHL star

The Toronto Six picked up their first win in franchise history, beating the Boston Pride 2-1.

Mikyla Grant-Mentis would have you believe her offensive game could still be better.

The rest of the Toronto Six might not agree.

“She’s a horse. She’s an offensive juggernaut,” said Toronto head coach Digit Murphy. “She can just control the flow of a game.”

In every game the Six have played in the NWHL’s Lake Placid bubble, Grant-Mentis has jumped off the ice. She’s scored two goals and one assist in four games, which follows the three points in two games she scored as a rookie with Buffalo a year prior.

In her first game as a member of the Six, she didn’t score — no one on the Six did — but she had nine shots on goal.

That should have been a sign of how locked in she was.

“Transitioning from my college career, I had to think more defensively,” said Grant-Mentis. “Here I think I can be more offensive and that’s the thing I’m trying to get better at. People tell me I’m playing a little too much defence, but I strive to push the pace more now in the offensive zone.”

If nine shots on goal don’t indicate a boost offensively, her entire presence and demeanour on the ice do.

Averaging 13:34 of ice time per game according to InStat, Grant-Mentis is treated like a veteran player. On the Six, maybe she is. Despite being just 22 years old, she is one of just four players on the roster who had ever played in the NWHL before this bubble season.

“It’s been good because really nobody knows all the league protocols, so they ask me like where do we go during the anthems, how do we wrap our helmets and that kind of stuff,” said Grant-Mentis. “They’re all coming to me and I’m like, honestly I played like three games, I barely know anything either.”

On the ice it sure seems like Grant-Mentis is in control. She’s a power play leader and has won 65 per cent of her faceoffs, dominating at every part of the game.

She’s become arguably the most reliable player on the young team.

“She’s awesome,” said rookie forward Brooke Boquist. “Unbelievable hockey player, glad she’s on our team.”

Grant-Mentis had a prolific career with a growing Merrimack program, becoming its leading scorer with 117 career points.

There she had a reputation as a strong two-way player, something she takes seriously, focused on winning defensive zone faceoffs — she’s won a whopping 75 per cent in her defensive end — and preventing opposing traction in the neutral zone.

The Six love that, but it’s her offensive game that’s stood out and evolved leaps and bounds since college, or even just last year, and they’ve all taken notice.

“I saw her (Tuesday night) get on her horse and backcheck like she’s just really coming into her own,” said Murphy. “I really love the way she plays. She’s very humble, but she’s so strong and she can shoot well.”

“She’s also a good dancer,” quipped goaltender Sam Ridgewell, noting the post-game celebration after their first franchise win over Boston. “We were just having a dance party out there.”

Grant-Mentis’ intangibles aside, she’s been working from everywhere on the ice to make offence happen. Eighty-three per cent of her shots have come from the left side, according to InStat, but her goals have been there when she’s had room and space between the circles.

What goes unnoticed is her snipe in the shootout in the loss to Minnesota on Sunday, where it appeared the Six were en route to an upset and their first ever win.

That had to wait another day. Despite blowing a four-goal lead and dropping the game in the shootout to the Whitecaps, the Six didn’t lose sight of the goal, and came out level-headed ready to take on Boston.

Grant-Mentis said leading into that game, the group had more focus than ever.

“We had a rocky start,” she said. “We didn’t get much practice beforehand so I feel like we’re in a groove now. We’re all gelling together and feeling good.”

Toronto has plenty of options on their offensive front, including Boquist and a wide range of rookies and former CWHL stars, but Grant-Mentis is rising, and she’s on pace to be the next superstar of the NWHL.

“We love having her,” said Murphy. “She’s the best.”

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