Fast has found complete form at just the right time for PWHL Toronto

Get the latest from Mike Ganter straight to your inbox

Article content

Renata Fast has long been considered one of the best female defenders in hockey.

Advertisement 2

Article content

She and partner Jocelyne Larocque are a duo opposing offences see take the ice, either at the world level or within the PWHL, and immediately their confidence plummets.

Article content

They’re positionally sound, physically hard to play against, and between them have a hockey IQ that ensures they are a step ahead of their opponent’s thought process.

It’s only recently, though, that Fast has started unlocking an offensive potential very much in line with the defensive skillset that has long been on display.

It has opened up the other side of the ice for the smooth, swift-skating Burlington native and has made her a dual threat, which is all opposing players want to hear about an opponent who already was extremely impactful on any game she played.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

At the recent IIHF world women’s hockey championship, Fast was Canada’s leading point-getter in the tournament with three goals and three assists in seven games.

She was named defender of the tournament and was a tournament all-star on defence.

Fast is convinced none of it happens without the PWHL, and without her PWHL head coach Troy Ryan, who also is her Team Canada coach, pushing her to be aggressive in looking for her own offence.

“I have to give Troy a lot of credit for the messaging he has been sending to the D corps with Toronto but even with Team Canada too,” Fast said. “Just being fearless and taking opportunities and calculated risks.

“It’s crazy. Once he started putting that message in my head and I started actually doing it, the success you can have is crazy.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

But in step with that newly adopted aggressive approach in terms of taking Fast’s game to the next level has been the opportunity to play and or practice every day in a professional environment that the PWHL is giving women for the first time in their careers.

“A huge part of it is also definitely this league,” Fast said. “It’s the consistency of play. I think we said going into worlds, we hadn’t been to a world championship where we’ve had so many opportunities to prepare heading into those games. Like, the mentality you want to go into a game with, just being confident. I remember previous world championships going in not knowing what to expect. But here I knew what to expect because I knew the way I was playing. So the league definitely sets us up for success.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

Fast said the biggest difference in her game is she no longer fears making a mistake.

“It’s part of that fearless mentality Troy is emphasizing,” she said. “He has told me before that you have to be prepared to have turnovers to have success and when you look at it that way, ‘OK, if I turn it over the odd time I’m confident in my ability to get back and make a defensive play and see what I can do and see how far I can stretch it.’ ”

Fast and the rest of the six other PWHL Toronto players that went to the worlds and won gold with their head coach and GM Gina Kingsbury are now fully back in PWHL mode having played two road games, a loss in Boston and another seminal moment in league history in an overtime win over Montreal at a sold-out Bell Centre.

Advertisement 6

Article content

With that win over Montreal, Toronto clinched a playoff spot and now has three games beginning Sunday in New York to fine tune for the playoffs.

Ryan has made it very clear he’s far more interested in being fully ready for a playoff run than he is in where the team actually finishes in the standings. Toronto could still finish as low as fourth in the season-ending standings.

“Without getting ahead of ourselves or being too arrogant, we felt like with five games to go we were in a good position to be in the playoffs so we started to shift our focus to playoffs,” Ryan said referring to the five games that remained once the world championship were over.

“We are not caught up in this race for first place,” he said. “We’re just not. We want to get better for the playoffs so I thought it was time to tinker and not really have to grind out these games.”

Advertisement 7

Article content

Recommended from Editorial

Fast also sees the importance in fine-tuning over these final couple of weeks, particularly with the group being separated for the better part of a month for the world championship.

“Yeah, we’ve had two games together but I think in those two games you could see we still need to get that timing and that chemistry back,” she said. “These next three games will be important to do that as well, as just getting practices in together.”

Nothing, though, has changed Fast’s mind about the group Kingsbury and Ryan have put together in this inaugural PWHL season.

“I couldn’t be more confident about this group,” Fast said. “It’s fun to be with them every day and it’s a good chemistry group off the ice. On the ice, we are willing to do what it takes, and I’m excited to see where that takes us.”

[email protected]

Article content

Source link

Denial of responsibility! NewsConcerns is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment