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Taylor Girard scored the game-winning goal and added an empty-netter as the Connecticut Whale held on for a 5-3 win over the hometown Toronto Six to open a Premier Hockey League semi-final series.

Girard gave the Whale a 4-1 lead with a short-handed goal 25 seconds into the third period.

Two goals from Toronto forward Michela Cava cut the Whale’s lead to 4-3, but the Six were unable to find an equalizer.

The Whale lead the best-of-three semi-final 1-0, with the next games scheduled for Saturday and Monday, if necessary, at Toronto’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Caitrin Lonergan had a goal and an assist while Justine Reyes and Melissa Samoskevich also scored for the Whale. Allie Munroe and Kennedy Marchment added two assists each.

Emma Woods had Toronto’s other goal.

Abbie Ives stopped 21 shots for Connecticut, while Elaine Chuli made 28 saves for Toronto.

The Canadian Press