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NWHL Isobel Cup Semi-Final Recap

Boston and Minnesota destined to square off for the Cup

Michelle Jay/NWHL

As Stanley said to Blanche in A Steetcar Named Desire, “we’ve had this date with each other from the beginning.”

The Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps will battle for the Isobel Cup tomorrow night in a rematch of the Final That Never Was in 2020.

Pride put up six on the Six, advance to Final

Box Score

  • A pair of first period goals in rapid succession set the tone for the Boston Pride, as they exploited a spotty Toronto defense for a 6-2 victory.
  • Depth is the name of the game, and the Boston Pride have it in spades. Mary Parker, Jillian Dempsey, McKenna Brand, Christina Putigna and Tereza Vanisova all turned in multi-point performances for Boston. 10 different Pride players found the stat sheet in the win.
  • Net-front defense is among the first things to fly out the window when a team hasn’t played a real hockey game in some time. Both teams experienced their fair share of lapses in the slot, with lack of coverage and players sneaking in unchecked to the netmouth. Boston simply capitalized more often.
Vanisova, all alone in front
  • Toronto deserves a ton of credit for building such an enticing brand both on and off the ice this season. Their undoing was the halting of their momentum in January. If this game were played as scheduled back in Lake Placid, it’s a much different contest. The Six had built up such energy, such swagger. To all of a sudden hit the brakes, allow the Pride- who everyone would concede was the heavy favorite heading into this season- to lick their wounds and regroup was a deathblow.
  • Under the Radar | Jillian Dempsey had been playing in Lake Placid with a shoulder injury nagging her. She still found a way to earn six points in seven games. Give her two months to recover and she’ll come back even stronger. Dempsey had a goal and a primary assist on the evening.
  • Quote of the Game | “I think we’re going to do it tomorrow.” -McKenna Brand, on the confidence of the Pride heading into the Isobel Cup Final
  • Player of the Game | For as many weapons as the Boston Pride have, Mary Parker is an underrated contributor on their offense. Parker fed Vanisova for the game’s opening goal by dancing around a prone Toronto defender, then tallied one of her own with a powerful move to the net. Parker is the real deal, and she shone Friday night.

Whitecaps steamroll Whale in 7-0 drubbing

Box Score

  • Minnesota never truly reached their full potential in Lake Placid. They flexed their muscle Friday night, exploding for seven goals including an Audra Richards hat trick and a pair from Allie Thunstrom.
  • Whatever mojo Connecticut was feeling early in the game was quickly snuffed out, as a Kayla Friesen shot ruled a goal on the ice was overturned after video review.

Goal? No goal? With no true overhead view, it’s difficult to tell. Either way, it clearly sucked the air out of the Whale attack, and things quickly unraveled from there.

  • Allie Thunstrom potted two in the contest after being held pointless in Lake Placid. She looked back to her old self- forcing neutral zone turnovers and generating breakaways for herself with her blazing speed. She admitted after the game that she felt more comfortable on the ice compared to earlier this year, physically and mentally. That was apparent. A comfortable Allie Thunstrom is dangerous.
  • Connecticut head coach Colton Orr was absent from the game after being exposed to COVID-19 from someone unrelated to the team. Assistant coach Laura Brennan, who normally rolls changes for the defense, called forward line shifts instead. Brennan commented after the game that Orr was in contact between periods, watching the game and discussing adjustments. In hockey, the system is the system. The person calling the shots in a single-elimination game isn’t going to make or break things, especially when the game is out of hand. The symbolic loss of a head coach hurts all the same, especially one with great locker room command like Orr.
  • Under the Radar | Not to be lost in the offensive eruption, Amanda Leveille casually stopped all 44 shots that came her way in a dominant performance. Multi-goal comebacks are hard in of themselves, but they are made even more difficult when going up against a hot Amanda Leveille. This was her second shutout of the 2021 campaign.
  • Quote of the Game | “We had a couple costly mistakes in the d-zone. I thought if we could get one, it would snowball from there. But we never got that chance.” -Whale acting head coach Laura Brennan on the shutout
  • Player of the Game | Audra Richards’ hat trick puts her over the top as the number one star in the contest. But a special shoutout deserves to go to Whale captain Shannon Doyle, an original NWHLer who called it a career following the playoff loss. Doyle saw the Whale through good times and bad- and most of them were bad- and carried herself with the utmost professionalism, charisma and poise.

Saturday’s Schedule

Live coverage of the Isobel Cup Final begins at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports and the NBC Sports app. International viewers can stream the game for free on twitch.tv/nwhl.

  • Boston Pride vs. Minnesota Whitecaps | 8 p.m. ET