No matter who wins the Isobel Cup at TRIA Rink on Sunday, it will be a historic moment: either the Minnesota Whitecaps will win the Isobel Cup in their first season or the Buffalo Beauts will become the first team to win two championships.
The first and second seeds will face off at 1 p.m. ct (2 p.m. et) in St. Paul on Sunday, March 17 to crown the Isobel Cup champion.
How they got here
The Whitecaps beat the Metropolitan Riveters on Friday night, 5-1, in a game that was postponed by six days due to weather-related travel delays. Hannah Brandt scored two goals, including an empty net goal with seven minutes left when the Riveters pulled Katie Fitzgerald in a last ditch attempt while down by three. Amanda Boulier, Katie McGovern, and Lauren Barnes also scored for the home team, while Courtney Burke scored the sole Riveters goal. The shots were flying on both ends of the ice. Fitzgerald withstood a flurry of shots saving 36 on the night while Amanda Leveille saved 35.
The Beauts’ path to Minnesota went through Boston where they won, 4-0. Dani Cameranesi lead her team with three points — two secondary assists and one goal. Maddie Elia, Emily Pfalzer, and Emily Janiga rounded out the goals. The Pride struggled to stay out of the box, something that hurt them as two of the Beauts goals came on the power play.
Looking to Sunday
The Beauts struggled against the Whitecaps during the regular season. The newest NWHL team won three of the four matchups, but Buffalo outscored them 8-7 on the season series. The two teams haven’t faced each other since Dec. 30 in Buffalo, a 4-0 win for the home side.
Keys to the game
The Whitecaps need to stay out of the box. The Beauts are lethal on the power play with a 16.1 PP% in the regular season, the second highest in the league, and 10 power play goals. The Whitecaps led the league with four shorthanded goals, but they all came off the sticks of some of the fastest players in the league — Kendall Coyne Schofield (2), Allie Thunstrom (1), and Jonna Curtis (1). If Minnesota does head to the box a lot, the Beauts need to make them pay.
Minnesota can’t have a sloppy first period. In the regular season, 15 of the 34 goals against them were scored in opening frame. The Whitecaps can’t afford to go down early against the Beauts.
Is it cheating if I say we all won because this going to be some great hockey to watch? Yes, okay, fine. I think the Beauts, on the back of Shannon Szabados and Maddie Elia, will become the first team in NWHL history to win two Isobel Cups. It will be a low-scoring affair, or maybe it’ll be a high-scoring affair, but either way, the real good place is the hockey we watched along the way.
Stats from the NWHL and Mike Murphy’s spreadsheet.