The NWHL will be changing its playoff format for the first time in its four-year history.
Many believed that the NWHL might adopt a playoff format similar to what we saw in the CWHL prior to its expansion into China, but that will not be the case.
The Ice Garden has learned that all five of the NWHL’s teams will compete in the 2019 Isobel Cup Playoffs. We have also learned that all playoff series will be single elimination.
The teams that finish fourth and fifth in the regular season standings will play in a preliminary game to determine which team will face the regular season champions in the Isobel Cup Semifinal. The other semifinal game will feature the teams that finish second and third in the regular season standings.
This format will allow every NWHL team, including the team that finishes last in the standings, at least one game of playoff hockey. And, as we have learned from the NWHL’s first three Isobel Cup Playoffs, any team can win any game.
”Everyone’s a contender. [The Riveters] are in last place, we haven’t won any games, but we’re in the games,” Madison Packer told members of the media after Saturday’s game at the Prudential Center. “The nice thing about our league is ... it’s my understanding that everyone makes the playoffs.”
Exact dates, locations, and further information regarding the league’s new playoff format are still being determined.
The NWHL regular season wraps up on Sunday, March 3. According to the Twitter streaming schedule, the playoffs will span March 9 - 17.
The 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship — which will feature several NWHL stars — begins on April 4, 2019.