A lot of great and exciting things happen in professional sports, and the 2017 National Women’s Hockey League Isobel Cup Final on Sunday March 19, 2017 was probably one of the most amazing to see. This year, the Isobel Cup Final game was between the #1 seed the Boston Pride (16-1-0) and the #3 seed the Buffalo Beauts (6-10-1) at the Tsongas Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I’ve seen some god upset games in my life, but this one was pretty unique between the USA Women’s Hockey news and the amount of NWHL players retiring at the end of this season.
The Buffalo Beauts got off to an early start scoring less than 2 minutes into the game to take a 1-0 lead, courtesy of defenseman Megan Bozek. Even though the Boston Pride had some great chances to score in the first, they had trouble figuring out how to get the puck past Beauts goaltender, Brianne McLaughlin. Emily Janiga scored for the Beauts 13 minutes into the period with assists to Hayley Scamurra and Ashley Vesci to increase their lead to 2-0. A lot happened on the Buffalo side of the score sheet as the Beauts also saw the first penalty of the game called on them, a 2-minute tripping call on Ashley Vesci with just over a minute left in the period. Being down 0-2 after the first 20 minutes of play, the Pride did dominate in the shotson goal column, leading 15 shots to 11.
Boston once again dominated the shots on goal in the second period, but still had trouble getting on the board. They did however see their first penalty of the game with a 2-minute hooking penalty to Hilary Knight, just over a minute in. At the 8:25 minute mark of the second period, Corinne Buie scored for the Beauts with Megan Bozek assisting to increase their lead to 3-0. As a response to the goal, the Pride pulled goalie Brittany Ott and put in Lauren Slebodnick. Even though the scoreafter 40 minutes was 3-0 Buffalo, Boston more than doubled their shots on goal to tally 37, while the Beauts only registered two shots for a total of 13.
What made this upset game so great was the last period. The start of the period was pretty similar to the rest of the game, a lot of great chanced for the Pride to finally get on the board, but amazing blocks by all of the Beauts and goaltender Brianne McLaughlin doing everything she could to maintain her shutout. On the other end, Gigi Marvin made a huge diving save at the Pride offensive end blue line to keep the puck on side with about 6:30 left on the clock. That play really turned the page for the Pride when just about 2 minutes later they finally scored with a great goal from Alex Carpenter, assisted by Brianna Decker and Kacey Bellamy, on the power play to make the score 3-1 Buffalo. Although the Pride dominated most of the game, they started scoring goals just a little too late in the game and couldn’t recover from the 3-goal deficit. Hilary Knight scored to put the Pride within one goal with just 4.2 seconds left in regulation, and it was incredible! The game clocked ticked down off the faceoff and that was it, the Buffalo Beauts had defeated the 16-1-0 Boston Pride to win the 2017 Isobel Cup Championship. Beauts goaltender Brianne McLaughlin finished the game with season high 60 saves, off 62 shots on goal from the Pride, also setting an NWHL Isobel Cup record with 55:33 minutes of shutout hockey. Now that’s impressive.
At the conclusion of the game, the Buffalo Beauts were awarded the Isobel Cup, and Beauts goaltender Brianne McLaughlin was named MVP for her amazing game. After a good 20 minutes of on ice and locker room celebrations for the victorious team, we finally got to catch up with Brianne McLaughlin, Emily Pfalzer, and Emily Bozek. The Buffalo Beauts came into the postseason with a record of 6-10-1, definitely the underdog to the 16-1-0 Boston Pride, and also previously lost to the Pride in the finals last year.
The Buffalo Beauts came into the postseason with a record of 6-10-1, definitely the underdog to the 16-1-0 Boston Pride, and also previously lost to the Pride in the finals last year.
“Revenge is awesome,” is how McLaughlin described the win and raising the Isobel Cup.
A lot of shots were taken through the full 60 minutes by the Boston Pride, andeven though the score itself doesn’t show how hard they worked; they wanted the win but couldn’t beat McLaughlin. Pride defenseman Blake Bolden called the early 2-goal deficit and “uncomfortable feeling” and that “we’ve come back from digging ourselves in holes, so we were pretty confident that we could come back and take the game over again, we just ran out of time unfortunately.” Although the Pride trailed the entire game, they never felt out of the game because “you cant feel that way because then you’re out of it ... we ran out of time, we fought back, we scored those two goals, and we looked up at the clock and said there’s four seconds left and that’s unfortunately not enough.” Bolden also praised McLaughlin on her amazing performance in goal.
Commenting on McLaughlin’s performance in her final game and beingawarded, Beauts defenseman, Megan Bozek proudly said, “it’s a great way to send off Brianne here with a win and no one deserved the MVP more than she does.” Then she added, “I think you got sixty shots? I don’t think you get that many in practice.” Even though Brianne gave a lot of credit to her teammates making her job a little easier.
All Beauts players thoroughly praised each other on a great game, especially, captain Emily Pfalzer. Pfalzer jumped into the conversation with “we have three great goalies, what can you say?” Bozek agreed and then said, “if you see how Emily walked in here, limping, she blocked two huge shots that could have potentially been late goals in the third – that’s a sacrifice it takes from every teammate.” A great upset victory doesn’t come from just the goal scorers; it comes from everyone on and offthe ice at all seconds of the game. McLaughlin retires from her professional hockey career by raising the Isobel Cup, what a way to go out with a bang.
Beyond the Game
As an avid follower of men’s hockey, I am so glad I got to witness this amazing NWHL game, as it was my first women’s professional game, ever. While it was my first, it was a last game for a handful of these athletes, Beauts players Brianne McLaughlin and Harrison Browne to name a few. On the other end of a professional women’s hockey career, Buffalo Beauts forward Hayley Scamurra was playing just her third professional game after signing on March 10 coming from Northeastern University. As a newcomer, she has registered 2-3-5 in her three games with the Beauts, what a start! Speaking of the Beauts, they have a few players finishing up their professional careers after the Isobel Cup win. Harrison Browne has announced that he has plans to serve on the NWHL’s Board of Advisors, and also to focus on his career off the ice.
Another special moment out of this day for the Beauts and the NWHL is the incredible career Harrison Browne has made for himself in the professional hockey world. It was amazing to meet him and get to talk to him about his hockey career and how he feels being the first transgender athlete to win a championship with a team.
“The thing that I’m thinking about the most is that, Harrison Browne is going to be etched onto that trophy, and that really does make me very emotional thinking about. So, I’m gonna go down in history and that’s great, and I’m glad that I really opened the door for somebody else to get their chosen name on that trophy.”
It sure is an emotional statement, and best wishes to all who retire from their professional hockey careers after this game.