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NWHL announces 2018 Isobel Cup Format

NWHL teams will compete for the Isobel Cup at the rinks of the highest seed.

Al Saniuk

Start making plans for mid-March when the Isobel Cup Playoffs begin! Today the NWHL announced that the higher seeded team will host throughout the playoffs.

“There was no debate in the league office: we wanted to honor the deeply-dedicated fans in our markets by bringing all playoff games – including the Isobel Cup Final – to them,” said NWHL Deputy Commissioner Hayley Moore in the league press release.

Moore added, “We’ve had a lot of success recently by taking the great athletes and role models of the NWHL on the road for events in Pittsburgh, Rochester, Minnesota and Tampa, and we plan to do more. But for these playoffs, it was time for a true home-ice advantage. The Isobel Cup Final will be an electrifying game – essentially a Game 7 before the fans of the highest-seeded team.”

While there will be no neutral-ice games this season, the single-elimination format from last year will remain. The semifinals will be played on the weekend of March 17-18 and the winner-take-all Isobel Cup Final will be played the following weekend.

The one seed will host the four seed, and the two seed will host the three seed during the semifinals. If the playoffs were to begin today, here is what the semifinals matchups would look like:

  • Connecticut Whale at Metropolitan Riveters
  • Boston Pride at Buffalo Beauts

Despite being the only original NWHL rink, the Harborcenter has never hosted an NWHL playoff game. The Riveters now play at the Barnabas Health Hockey House, the host of the inaugural Isobel Cup Finals (a three-game series featuring Boston and Buffalo).

The Riveters have clinched a top two finish ten games into the season and will host in the semifinals. With their partnership with the New Jersey Devils, could we see the Riveters host a home game at the Prudential Center?