In the world of sports, it’s not uncommon to hear the word revenge tossed around when it comes to beating an opponent or getting retribution for an early season loss. In the case of the 2020-2021 Boston Pride, they’ll be out for revenge for a season cut one game short of a championships by the pandemic.
While the Pride can’t inflict harm on COVID-19 for ending their chance to win an historic second Isobel Cup, the wrong they suffered will no doubt fuel them to continue to dominance of a 23-1-0 season.
Three Boston players received hardware for their regular season success, with Jillian Dempsey sharing the MVP award with Minnesota’s Allie Thunstrom, Kaleigh Fratkin winning Defender of the Year, and Lovisa Selander taking home Goaltender of the Year in her rookie campaign.
Revenge will not mean proving people wrong for a lack of performance or a lack of respect. The Pride lost only one game to Minnesota, but the way in which it happened left a sour taste in the mouths of most of the players. The next day, the team definitely had revenge on its mind and took a 4-2 win, never trailing once in 60 minutes of play.
The title of next year’s season may reflect the Pride’s feeling that every other team will be after them. Boston not only beat opponents most weekends, they left them demoralized. The team carried a goal differential of +58 through the regular season and was taken past regulation only twice.
That sounds like inflicting plenty of hurt and harm on someone, and the offseason is a great indication that every team in the league is getting serious about having all star caliber players at every position.
Boston has also reloaded and retooled its lineup. After signing first overall pick Sammy Davis out of Boston University, the Pride have added three more draft picks in Tereza Vanisova, Taylor Wenczkowski, and Meghara McManus, plus an undrafted forward in Carlee Turner.
“The leadership we have in the locker room will continue to mold a cohesive and competitive group, and the rookies will be no exception,” said General Manager Karilyn Pilch. “Our newcomers are just as hungry as our veterans, as the cancellation adds the perfect amount of pressure to seek revenge for their new teammates, and accomplish our ultimate goal.”
Boston forward McKenna Brand is also keen on making the revenge tour a success, and getting the rookies to be a part of that family will keep Boston on top of the league. “I think it’s important for us to establish our team culture and unity right away in order to continue where we left off last season.”
Brand led the Pride with 19 goals during the regular season and was an MVP candidate along with her team captain. The part that stings the most for her, and what will fuel her personal revenge next season, is wanting the early season beliefs to become real. “Our team last season was so determined to win the cup and we really believed we were going to do it,” she said.
So again we circle back to what the word revenge will mean to the Boston Pride. They were denied an opportunity to win a championship through no fault of their own. Still, that was harm inflicted upon them and they will not soon forget it.
It will be hard to duplicate another one loss season. The bar will be raised across the entire league, and there will be yet another team to deal with in Toronto that has already put together a frightening lineup.
Nevertheless, Boston is hungry and they know the league will be even hungrier to knock them off their pedestal. Revenge won’t be achieved for the Pride unless they lift the Isobel Cup in 2021. The rest of the NWHL may be their unfortunate victims.
Sam Fryman is the play-by-play announcer for The Boston Pride.