Boston Pride preview: Can they repeat as NWHL Isobel Cup champions?

Stacked Boston group still Isobel Cup favorites

The Boston Pride could very well be considered the NWHL darlings of last season. Finishing first in the league with a record of 13-4-1, they rode that momentum all the way to the Isobel Cup Championship, where they were the first team to get their name engraved on Lady Isobel's Cup.

But where do the Pride stand this season?

X Factors: Knight and Decker and Ott, oh my!

Two names well known on the Pride roster are Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker. Knight scored 15 goals and tallied 18 assists in 17 games, while Decker tallied 14 goals and 15 assists in 16 games. Knight's point count total for 2015-16 was 33, while Decker scored 29. The Pride also has a stellar netminder in Brittany Ott, who boasted a .925 save percentage and 1.40 goals against average last season.

The trio is the X factor. Knight and Decker were respectively the leading and second-leading goal scorers on the team last season, in both the regular season and the playoffs. Despite the Pride’s remarkable forward depth, this is a team that often rises and falls with their two top scorers.

Ott was their number one ‘tender last season, also both in the regular season and playoffs. Will she be able to keep up that level of play

Buie and Cooke depart

The off-season not only brought travel tales with Lady Isobel, but it also saw roster changes. Forward Corinne Buie departed the team to join the Buffalo Beauts. Buie, who had two goals and two assists last season, played in all four of the Pride's playoff games.

Also departing for the season was forward Kelly Cooke, though she’ll remain involved in the NWHL. Cooke, who also posted two goals and two assists last year, will be joining the league's new Department of Player Safety for the 2016-17 season.

Familiar faces

Despite losing Cooke and Buie, and also losing goaltender Kelsie Fralick, Pride fans will see a number of new names on the roster this season. The team signed Kathryn Tomaselli, Lindsay Berman, Maggie Taverna, Marissa Gedman, Michaela Levine and Natalie Robinson as practice players during the off-season.

Alex Carpenter, who was the first overall pick by the New York Riveters in the first annual draft, will also be joining the team this season. The former Boston College forward, who saw an overall college record of 133 goals and 145 assists in 150 games, was traded to the Pride. Another forward joining the roster is Meghan Duggan. Perhaps best known for her experience with the United States national team, Duggan played for the Beauts last season. Both Carpenter and Duggan will be great anchors to the Pride's offensive lines, and will no doubt contribute to scoring. Boston was the last team in the league that needed MORE offensive talent, but they got that in spades with Carpenter and Duggan.

Lexi Bender, who was selected 11th overall by the Pride in last year's draft, will be playing with the team as well. Bender, also a Boston College product, boasts a college record of 19 goals and 76 assists for a total of 95 points in 154 games.

Offseason recap

If it is at all possible when the record they had in 2015-16 is taken into consideration, the Boston Pride has seemingly improved this off-season. While the losses of Kelly Cooke, Corinne Buie, and Kelsie Fralick may cause some minor trouble, if it does, it'll be just that: minor. The additions of Alex Carpenter, Meghan Duggan, and Lexi Bender will take care of it, and should mean the on-ice performance skyrockets. If Knight and Decker can repeat the season they had last year and Brittany Ott remains a human equivalent of a brick wall (very likely), the Pride could easily defend their Isobel Cup title.

Keeping up with the Pack

The team can be found on social media on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. For all three sites, their handle is TheBostonPride. You can also follow along with the team by using the hashtag “ThePack”.