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What If…? NWHL Version, Part 2

What If...Boston was able to slip another puck past Brianne McLaughlin?

Boston Pride forward Hilary Knight in front of the Buffalo Beauts Brianne McLaughlin during the Isobel Cup game between the Boston Pride and the Buffalo Beauts at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA on March 19, 2017.
Boston Pride forward Hilary Knight in front of the Buffalo Beauts Brianne McLaughlin during the Isobel Cup game between the Boston Pride and the Buffalo Beauts at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA on March 19, 2017.
Michelle Jay

Time. Space. Reality. It’s more than a linear path. It’s a prism of endless possibility, where a single choice can branch out into infinite realities, creating alternate worlds from the ones we already know. I am not the Watcher, but I am your guide through these vast new realities.

Follow along and ponder the question... ‘What if?’

March 19, 2017. The Boston Pride and Buffalo Beauts meet in Lowell, Massachusetts for the second Isobel Cup Final and a rematch of the inaugural Cup Final. After finding themselves down 0-3 after 40 minutes of play the Pride roar back with two, third-period goals while peppering Beauts netminder Brianne McLaughlin with 24 shots during the final 20 minutes.

Instead of Boston finding an equalizing goal, McLaughlin made save, after save, after save, after save, after save, and then she made some more saves. Hilary Knight and Alex Carpenter were able to score in the final five minutes of regulation for Boston but Buffalo eventually prevailed 3-2, flipping the script from the previous ICF.

What If…there were five more minutes of regulation? Would Boston have been able to slip another puck past McLaughlin, who finished with 63-saves in one of the greatest performances in a championship game ever? The Pride certainly had the personnel to score another goal with names like Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, and Blake Bolden on their roster.

Al Saniuk

Buffalo blocked oodles of shots that night (and their bodies were likely as black and blue as their jerseys were) including at least five that I counted in the final five minutes. But they weren’t generating any offense. Over the final 40 minutes, Boston outshot their opponents 48-5. The odds were certainly in their favor that if the game was extended, even by one more minute, they would have found the tying goal.

What If…the game went to overtime? Would Boston have capitalized on the momentum or would Buffalo have found a way to eventually win? How many more saves would McLaughlin have finished the night with?

Boston won all of their matchups with Buffalo during the regular season, perhaps they overlooked their opponents on this day. What if…they didn’t?

The different possibilities are endless.

In Season 3 of the NWHL a third different team was crowned as the champion when the Metropolitan Riveters prevented the Buffalo Beauts from winning back-to-back Cups - the same thing the Beauts did to the Pride a year prior. In a single-game Isobel Cup Final, the Rivs won a tight-checking game 1-0. In the next edition of What If…? we’ll look at what might have been.