A new star is emerging in Toronto’s hockey hot bed. Mikyla Grant-Mentis is the leading scorer of the Premier Hockey Federation and the face of Canada’s only professional women’s hockey team, the Toronto Six.
While Auston Matthews is showered with praise scoring at close to 1.40 points per game, Grant-Mentis is dominating the PHF, leading her team and the league in scoring while averaging 1.75 points per game.
It’s a dichotomy often experienced by women in sport, but with the rise of the Six and the growth of women’s hockey, Grant-Mentis is poised to become a star in the hottest hockey market on the planet.
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Aiding her ascension was Toronto’s recent purchase by an impressive group including Hockey Hall of Fame member Angela James, former Jack Adams winner Ted Nolan and NHL alumni Anthony Stewart.
As the leading scorer of Canada’s only professional women’s hockey team, all eyes are on Grant-Mentis.
“It’s exciting, I’m glad I’m in this position. When I was young I didn’t have anyone to look up to, or say, I want to be just like them,” she explained of representing not only the Six, but the BIPOC community. Grant-Mentis, along with teammate Saroya Tinker, are the only Black players in the PHF.
“I take it with pride, and I make sure I sign the girls' shirts when they come to games. I try to connect with them and show them we’re here for them and we’re doing this for them. Hopefully they'll have a league that’s sustainable when they’re old enough to play.”
James, who serves as an assistant coach for Toronto and is part of the new ownership team, has been outspoken in her support for both the women’s game and PHF. In particular, James has played a role in guiding Grant-Mentis and Tinker.
“My dad always talked to me about Angela James, but I never got to see her play,” Grant-Mentis explained. “She knows that Saroya and I have a big responsibility. She makes sure we’re getting out into the community and talking to the young girls when they come to our games. She’s definitely a big role model and makes sure we’re doing everything possible to grow the game for our community.”
As a child, Grant-Mentis didn’t see herself represented in the game, but as the star of the PHF, she is showing women and girls of colour that they have a place in hockey.
“It doesn’t matter what you want to do, there’s a spot for you in this sport and league, whether it’s being a coach, a player, a GM, or an owner, there’s something for everybody, and the league is doing a great job to show the younger generation that there is something for you here.”
Born and raised in Brampton, Ont., Grant-Mentis played junior hockey in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League for the Toronto Aeroes and Mississauga Chiefs before starring for Merrimack College. At Merrimack, she scored 20 goals and a point per game in her senior season while serving as an alternate captain.
After scoring nine points in a shortened six-game season in 2020-21, Grant-Mentis was named league MVP and was quickly re-signed by Toronto, being touted as a “special talent” by Six staff.
"Mikyla Grant-Mentis is our secret weapon," Toronto president Digit Murphy said at the time of her re-signing. "Regardless of playing her on the wing or in the middle, she is an offensive threat, she anticipates well and is a constant threat to opponents. She has a special talent that you can't teach."
She also earned the PHF’s Newcomer of the Year award.
At 23, Grant-Mentis's stardom is still on the rise, and the PHF will count on her talent as a draw for two additional markets next season as the PHF plans to expand to Montreal and another yet-to-be-named city.
“It’s a huge step forward for the league,” she stated about expansion. “There are a lot of girls out there who don’t have anywhere to go after college, and now with the influx of people coming out of college after COVID-19, there’s going to be so many great players looking for a place to play.
"We definitely need more Canadian teams to grow the professional game in Canada. It’s going to be a huge step forward for the league and for all girls and women who want to play in the league in the future.”
For now, however, Grant-Mentis is focused on the task at hand: bringing the first Isobel Cup title to Canada.
“My goal is to win the Isobel Cup. We got so close last year, so that’s our focus, to make it back there and win the Cup for Toronto and Canada as the only Canadian team.”
If Grant-Mentis has anything to say about it, Toronto’s long awaited championship hockey parade will feature the red, black and gold of the Six.
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