Across all of SBNation this week, sites will be looking at the best teams to never win a championships.
We’re putting a bit of a spin on “best who haven’t won” today by looking at individual players who haven’t won a team trophy. Of course, individual players don’t make or break whole teams, but there’s some big names in NWHL history who aren’t etched in the Isobel Cup.
To find players who fit this, obviously they couldn’t have won a championship. They also had to have played at least 30 games (or at least two NWHL seasons).
Maybe Duggan was just cursed. She made it to the Isobel Cup Final twice, with two different teams yet has exactly zero NWHL championships to her name. In the 2015-16 her Buffalo Beauts lost the Isobel Cup to the Boston Pride, two games to none. She signed with the Pride for the 2016-17 season who then lost in the Isobel Cup Final to the Beauts.
In all seriousness though, Duggan was a prolific scored in her two seasons in the NWHL. Her career points per game is 1.2, good for fifth among players who played at least 30 games and fifth among players who never won an Isobel Cup. Both seasons, she was in the top five for all scoring categories on her team, and in 2016-17 she was second in the league in goals scored with 13.
The recent woes of the Whale drown out the memory of what was an exceptional start to the 2015-16 season when they won eight straight games and, after their first loss of the season, won another three straight. Stack’s team leading 1.29 points per game had a huge part in that. In 2016-17, on a Whale team that struggled, her 12 goals were good for third in the whole league, and 20 percent of the entire teams goals scored.
Babstock’s time in the NWHL spanned four seasons and two teams as the Canadian played three seasons with the Whale and one with the Beauts. She is tied for fifth all-time in NWHL scoring and played for two of the best teams in NWHL history that fell short of winning a Cup. She and Stack led the Whale to a franchise-best 13-5-0 inaugural season but fell short in the semifinal. A few years later she left the Whale as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer to join a stacked Beauts roster in 2018-19.
Playing in more of a depth role with Buffalo, she and the Beauts lost the 2019 Isobel Cup Final in overtime to the Minnesota Whitecaps. Babstock finished her NWHL career averaging 0.92 Pts/GP and scored 10 or more points in three of her four seasons in the league.
Doyle is the greatest defender in Whale franchise history, which is also why she has never won an Isobel Cup.
Connecticut has won just two playoff games in franchise history, including the 2020 Play-In Game against the Beauts. In other words, the Whale are the only team in league history that has not made an appearance in the Isobel Cup Final. The Canadian blueliner took her game to another level in 2018-19 when she scored three goals and earned five assists in 13 games. This year, Doyle shared the team lead in scoring (11) with Kaycie Anderson, making her the only defender in the league to lead her team in points. She’s a two-time All-Star and won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2010 IIHF U-18 Worlds, but has never had enough talent around her on the Whale to lift the Isobel Cup.
Fratkin, an original NWHLer, is the highest-scoring defender in league history with 60 points in 87 games. It may be hard to believe, but she didn’t win her first NWHL playoff game until this year when the Pride defeated the Whale, her original team, in the 2020 Isobel Cup Semifinal.
She’s a Clarkson Cup champion, a Defender of the Year recipient, and won silver with Team Canada at the 2009 IIHF U-18 Worlds, but she’s never lifted the Isobel Cup. Fratkin’s NWHL career reached a crossroads in 2016-17 with the Riveters. Just two years after leading all NWHL defenders in scoring, she was being played as a third line winger. The following year, she joined the Boston Pride, becoming the first player in league history to play for three teams, and watched as the Riveters won the Isobel Cup.
Fratkin might still have a chance to bounce herself off this list, if the 2020 Isobel Cup is ever played.