Boston wins Isobel Cup
Boston wins Isobel Cup
Pride crowned inaugural NWHL champs
The win in the final for the championship trophy marked the end of the NWHL’s first season of play.
The Pride swept aside the Buffalo Beauts in two games of the best-of-three, winning a trophy named after the daughter of Lord Stanley of Preston. Both games were played at the Prudential Center practice arena in Newark, New Jersey.
Boston won the first game Friday night by a 4-3 score, and Saturday night the Pride won, 3-1, to cap a near-perfect season. Led by co-captain Hilary Knight, the finalists feature several players who will represent the USA at the upcoming Women’s Worlds in Victoria, British Columbia in April.
In addition to Knight, Boston’s lineup includes Decker, Kacey Bellamy, Amanda Pelkey, and Gigi Marvin.
The Beauts lineup, however, was also chock full of international experience in the form of Emily Pfalzer, Megan Bozek, Meghan Duggan, Shelby Bram, and goaltender Brianne McLaughlin.
Game one was decided when Knight scored on a penalty shot in overtime after Hailey Browne had covered the puck with her glove in the crease. Knight also scored in the third to tie the game. She made a great deke to beat former national team goalie Brianne McLaughlin for the victory.
In Game two, a much tighter affair, the score was 1-0 Boston for the longest time. That goal came at 11:55 of the opening period when Decker took a sensational breakaway pass from Knight and went in alone, beating McLaughlin over the glove.
The Pride made it 2-0 thanks to a short-handed goal from Decker midway through the final period. Knight had a breakaway but was stopped by McLaughlin. Still, she got the loose puck in the corner, saw Decker in the slot, and made a nice pass. Decker drilled a quick shot past the goalie to give Boston that all-important insurance goal.
Much of the game was tense and evenly played, but Brittany Ott was perfect in the Boston goal. The Beauts thought they scored midway through the third to cut the deficit in half, but the referee ruled Meghan Duggan gloved the puck into the goal.
Decker was also involved in the third Boston goal just moments later, her breakout pass to Jordan Smelker along the left wing created a rush with speed, and Knight drove to the net, taking the pass and re-directing it in for what proved to be an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
Erin Zach made it a 3-1 game in the final minute on the power play, but it was too little, to late for Buffalo.
At game’s end, NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan and former national team player Erika Lawler presented captain Knight with the Isobel Cup, and the partying started. Moments later, though, social media lit up with rumours that the NWHL would soon announce expansion into Canada. Toronto was one city that seemed confirmed, while the other appeared to be either Hamilton or Montreal.
Regardless, the first season of professional women’s hockey in the United States was in the books, and the league had only promise and excitement to wake up to in the morning to prepare for bigger and better things in Season Two.
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