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2022 PHF Playoff Preview: An x-factor for each team

These six players could fly under the radar, but still, play a big role for their teams as they strive to become the 2022 Isobel Cup champions.

Michelle Jay/NWHL

The 2022 Isobel Cup Playoffs are almost here! They begin this Friday in Florida and while we all expect the usual suspects to be big players in these games - Madison Packer, Jillian Dempsey, Allie Thunstrom, etc. - sometimes, its the least likely person that ends up being the hero in these games.

Keeping that in mind, here are six players that I think could fly under the radar and still play a big role for their teams as they strive to become the last team standing on March 28.

Boston: Tori Sullivan. While she hasn’t been on the scoresheet a lot this season, she is still just as lethal as she was two seasons ago when she had 25 points in 24 games for the Pride. With their opponents focusing on neutralizing players like Dempsey, McKenna Brand, and Christina Putigna that’s where Sullivan can strike - playing against either a tired group of skaters on the ice or against lesser players.

Buffalo: Emma Keenan. After two seasons overseas Keenan joined the Beauts blue line for this season and has shown a knack for jumping into an offensive rush while providing timely goals as well. If she can stay out of the penalty box (28 PiM) Keenan could be a player that scores a big goal in a big moment for Buffalo.

Connecticut: Kaycie Anderson. While she has only seen limited ice-time since returning from a midseason absence, Anderson has made the most of the time. Since the calendar flipped to 2022 she’s chipped in four points (2g-2a) in nine games.

Metropolitan: Emily Janiga. She played a lot this season for the Rivs as one of their top-two centers but finished seventh on the team in scoring. As a player who plays in all situations, Janiga will have opportunities to be a difference-maker and in her previous four playoff games (2017, 2019 with Buffalo) she has a goal in three of those four games (4g-1a).

Minnesota: Lexie Laing….or Amanda Leveille. Don’t let her six points (2g-4a) in 20 games fool you, Laing is a primetime player as evidenced by the goal she scored in last season’s Isobel Cup Final for Boston. Like Sullivan, back in Season 5, she averaged over a point-per-game. Sidenote, if Leveille is somehow able to recover enough to play in the playoffs after missing the final nine games of the regular season, she would be the X-factor of all X-factors.

Toronto: Breanne Wilson-Bennett. Since returning to the Six late in the season Wilson-Bennett has been one of their best players and finished the season with six points (5g-1a) in six games, including goals in three straight before the season finale. As a player who isn’t afraid to go to the front of the net, her presence could tip the scales in Toronto’s favor.