Going into this year’s NWHL season, most people expected the Boston Pride to dominate and cruise to the Isobel Cup Championship, while expectations for the newest NHL addition, the Toronto Six, were much less grandiose. As we learned in the early games of Lake Placid, everything we thought would happen was quickly tossed out the window. We learned to expect the unexpected from every single team in every single game.
Now we’re looking ahead to the 2021 NWHL Isobel Cups semifinals, with the first-place Toronto Six getting ready to face off against the fourth seed Boston Pride on Friday night.
Pride Pounce Back
Simply put, the Pride struggled at the beginning of the season, losing three out of four matchups. But Boston’s last two games, part of a playoff elimination series with the Buffalo Beauts, began to show us the Pride of old we have grown to love.
The offense that had been quiet early on opened the flood gates, notching six goals in Game Two to tie the series and tallied seven in the final game to win the series — although by this point the result didn’t matter as the Connecticut Whale withdrew from the competition. Still, there was no doubt that the Pride had finally found their rhythm again.
One thing to note is that the Pride will now have home-ice advantage for this week’s semifinal matchup, as the NWHL Playoffs will resume at Warrior Ice Arena in Boston. The Six were originally set to have home-ice advantage in Lake Placid before the suspension of the season. While “home ice” in Lake Placid might not have made a huge difference, it sure will in Boston as the Pride will have the opportunity to play where they’re most comfortable.
Another notable factor heading into the semifinal is the Pride’s inclusion of Mary Parker on the playoff roster, who had originally left Lake Placid before things began to spiral out of control. Parker was instrumental to the Pride’s offense in their dominating 2020 season, finishing third on the team in goals (15) and points-per-game (1.4). Her return could be the slight push the Pride need to edge out the smoking hot Six.
Six Stun Lake Placid
The Six were a serious underdog heading into the Lake Placid, but they quickly showed the rest of the NWHL that they meant business. After falling in their first game, Toronto nearly took out a 2020 Isobel Cup Finalist in the Minnesota Whitecaps in just their second appearance as a team. That game proved to be all the team needed to get things going, as they proceeded to go undefeated for the rest of the tournament and catapulted themselves to the number one seed heading into the Isobel Cup playoffs.
Perhaps the most important thing we saw from the Six is their sheer resiliency. Despite losing two-thirds of their top line in Brooke Boquist and Emma Woods, as well as one of their top defenders in Kristen Barbara, the Six continued to win. The great news for the Six is that all three were confirmed on the rosters for the upcoming playoffs, which will be huge for the Six if they hope to top the Pride.
This game is going to be a great one, and the result truly could go either way. There is no doubt in my mind both teams will be bringing their A-game to the semifinal, and we’ve seen what that can mean from each side. While I could see either team moving on to the Isobel Cup Championship, I’m going to place my bet on the Toronto Six.
The Six have shown a much higher level of consistency throughout this season than the Pride have, and I have a feeling that they’re not done yet. Plus, who doesn't love a good underdog story?
Toronto Six vs. Boston Pride | 5:00 PM ET
WATCH: NBCSN or twitch.tv/live
Data courtesy of NWHL.zone