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2021 NWHL Season Preview: Boston Pride

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The Pride look to finish what they started last season

Michelle Jay

Sixty minutes of hockey [barring overtime] stood between the Boston Pride and the Isobel Cup last season — 60 minutes that they never got to play. In 2021, the Pride look to finish the job.

Five Factors

  • Unfinished Business | The Pride dominated the NWHL last season, claiming the regular season title with a 23–1 record and coming within one game of their second Isobel Cup before the pandemic caused the cancelation of the championship matchup with the Minnesota Whitecaps. Will Boston be able to repeat last season’s success and cruise their way to the 2021 Isobel Cup title?
  • O Captain! My Captain! | Fourth-year captain and 2019–20 co-MVP Jillian Dempsey will continue to be the driving force behind Boston’s offense. Just last season, Dempsey became the highest-scoring player in both Pride and National Women’s Hockey League history, and she currently sits at 98 regular season points (46G, 52A) as the Pride head into the 2020–21 season. All eyes will be on Dempsey as she looks to record her 100th point in the Lake Placid bubble.
  • Brick Backstops | The goalie tandem of Lovisa Selander and Victoria Hanson, who were near-unbeatable last season, return to the crease as the Pride look to repeat last year’s success. Selander, the 2020 Goaltender of the Year, finished first in wins (17), GAA (1.71), and save percentage (.941) last season. Hanson shined just as bright in net, finishing the year with a 6–0 record, 1.97 GAA, and a .919 save percentage. The fact is, no matter who is in goal, Pride opponents are going to have difficulty getting much into the net.
  • Defend the Den | Last year’s NWHL Defender of the Year Kaleigh Fratkin will return to anchor the backend for the Pride. Fratkin, the highest-scoring defender in league history, led all Pride defenders in scoring last season (3G, 20A) and with a +33 plus/minus. A team MVP last season, Fratkin will be one to watch, especially as the Pride manage the loss of veteran defender Lexi Bender.
  • Fresh Faces | The Pride added a plethora of talent to their already stacked roster over the summer, including Boston University star and No. 1 pick Sammy Davis, former Northeastern captain Paige Capistran, Maine’s all-time points leader Tereza Vanišová, and former University of New Hampshire captains Carlee Turner and Taylor Wenczkowski. Could these additions give the Pride the final push they need to capture their second Isobel Cup Championship?

Why the Pride Can Win It All

There’s no doubt that the Pride are stacked at every single position, and with the return of Dempsey, Fratkin, and Selander, it’s hard to imagine a world where the Pride don’t claw their way back to the Isobel Cup championship. Factor in the newcomers, led by No. 1 overall pick Davis, and the Pride may just have the perfect formula to capture their first Isobel Cup since winning it in 2015–16. With Dempsey and Sullivan’s powerhouse offensive lines mostly untouched from last season, and the top defensive pairing of Fratkin and Mallory Souliotis together, it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to stop the complete domination we saw from the Pride last season.

Prediction

With much of their core intact and most of the leadership group from last season returning, the 2021 season looks extremely bright for the Pride. The loss of Bender will no doubt have an impact, but the additions made by Boston in the offseason should alleviate much of the loss. In the end, the Pride’s chemistry, commanding offensive power, and brick wall defense will power them straight through to the 2021 Isobel Cup championship and, most likely, see them capture their second Isobel Cup.