Boston Pride top Minnesota Whitecaps in epic Isobel Cup game
Is it possible to have deja vu for a game that never happened?
If it is, that’s what Saturday night in Boston felt like. The Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps, set to face off in what should have been an Isobel Cup rematch, won their Friday night semifinals to advance.
The Pride became the first team to ever with the Isobel Cup twice with their 4-3 win, a score that, even as a one-goal win, doesn’t tell the story of how close it was.
Minnesota made it a one-goal game with 20 seconds left, but the Pride closed it on while shorthanded to take the win, and the Cup.
“It’s taken me six seasons to get it done,” said Pride defender Kaleigh Fratkin, who won her first Isobel Cup. “This group was awesome, we really came together. With everything that’s gone on, it couldn’t have ended any other way.”
When it mattered, Boston delivered
Things got dicey in the third. Whitecaps defender Amanda Boulier, who did not play in the regular season, closed her hand around the puck in the crease during a Boston bid. The Pride had the choice of a penalty shot or power play, and Tori Sullivan missed on her penalty shot bid.
“When I went up and asked, I looked at them and said ‘I hope you’re 100% sure that you can’t review that,’ said Whitecaps defender Winny Brodt Brown. “And they said ‘Nope, we’re not reviewing it.’”
Moments later, Allie Thunstrom, who scored the goal to make it a 1-0 game early in the first period, tallied her second. The former league co-MVP did not tally at all in the regular season in Lake Placid, but also scored twice in the semifinal win over Connecticut.
After a sustained offensive attack, the Whitecaps earned a power play of their own midway through the third, which was followed up by an immediate Boston player advantage.
They took, well, advantage. Rookie Taylor Wenczkowski was in the perfect position to pick up a rebound from Amanda Leveille -- one of very few miscues from the elite Whitecaps goalie -- to put the Pride back up by two.
Boston’s top line performed well
The Pride go how their top players go, whether it be defenders producing on offense or their elite top line. On Saturday night, it wasn’t surprising to see Jillian Dempsey and her crew play perhaps the best hockey they have all season.
Dempsey scored the go-ahead goal, much like she did in the semifinal on Friday, while her linemate Christina Putigna contributed two assists.
Amanda Leveille stood on her head
It’s not a Minnesota Whitecaps game if Leveille isn’t doing her thing.
She made 30 saves -- the same as Boston goalie, Lovisa Selander -- the night after a 44-save shutout of the Connecticut Whale. Even after she gave up the first three tallies, she kept the Pride off the board until late in the third and the Whitecaps a chance to come back and make it a one-goal game.
The fourth goal, off a rebound where Wenczkowski was right in front, doesn’t happen if it’s not a power play. It’s impossible to pin anything on her, other than another stellar season.