NEWARK – Cue the Duckboats. The Boston Pride are champions of the National Women’s Hockey League’s inaugural season.
Boston beat Buffalo 3-1 to capture the Isobel Cup in a two-game sweep. Commissioner Dani Rylan awarded Pride co-captains Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker the trophy, which hadn’t seen the light of day until this moment. The Isobel Cup is named after Lord Stanley’s daughter Isobel and is presented to the best professional women’s hockey team in North America.
“Today we lift the Cup as professional women’s hockey players, something we always dreamed of,” said Pride defensemen Gigi Marvin who had two assists in the clincher.
The Pride ended the 2015-16 season by winning 11 straight games, the longest streak in league history. The aforementioned Decker, among the league’s leading scorers put Boston ahead 1-0 11:55 into the first period, streaking in alone and firing one past Olympic teammate Brianne McLaughlin. Then in the third, her shorthanded goal gave the Pride cushion needed to secure victory.
Hilary Knight would add a goal 2:18 later giving Boston a 3-0 lead. On a night in which Boston won the first championship in league history, it was two of the NWHL’s most dynamic superstars who got the job done.
“We just got so much better as the season went along,” goaltender Brittany Ott said. “We have a great group and I’m just so proud to be a member of the Boston Pride and win a championship here.”
Erin Zach scored Buffalo’s lone goal with 37 seconds left in the game. Meghan Duggan, who missed Game 1 due to coaching commitments at Clarkson University, played in Game 2.
“I think we got off to a slow start and we had a couple of bad bounces,” said Beauts captain Emily Pfalzer, but overall we played with heart and battled right to the end.”
On-ice, many members of the Pride dedicated the championship to teammate Denna Laing, who sustained a serious spinal cord injury during the Outdoor Women’s Classic onDecember 31 at Gillette Stadium. Laing Tweeted support for her teammates before the series began on Friday (https://twitter.com/dlaing14/
“She meant everything to us,” said Pride defenseman Kacey Bellamy. “She’s been with us every step of the way and we know she’s with us right now.”
Laing was Facetiming with players and General Manager Hayley Moore during the celebration.
“We had 24 (Denna’s college number), 14 … whatever we want to symbolize right in our hearts. That’s what we played for the whole year,” Decker said.
Like their NHL counterparts, NWHL players will get a day with the Cup. As for what lifting that Cup felt like?
“It felt like the Stanley Cup,” Decker said. “That’s exactly what we were going for with women’s hockey. It’s fantastic.”