Pride To Host Whitecaps In Isobel Cup Final After 5-1 Win Over Whale
By Mike Murphy
The Boston Pride defeated the Connecticut Whale today in the Isobel Cup Semifinal to earn a meeting with the Minnesota Whitecaps in the 2020 NWHL Isobel Cup Final on Friday. Boston was all business against a relentless Whale team, winning by a final score of 5-1 thanks to a three-goal third period.
“This is what we prepared for, going back to September,” head coach Paul Mara said after the game. “Tip your hat to the Whale, they were a great opponent.
The Pride and Whale were playing tight hockey in a penalty-filled first period, before Boston finally broke through. Former Whale captain Emily Fluke pounced on a rebound and swept it into the net at the 9:44 mark to give Boston a 1-0 lead which held until the horn sounded.
Boston’s offense turned up the pressure in the second period, but Brooke Wolejko stood tall and kept her team alive. Finally, just past the midway point of the period, Grace Klienbach battled her way to a rebound and poked it home after the puck had slipped through Lovisa Selander’s pads. The Whale bench erupted in celebration but was quickly silenced by Jillian Dempsey.
Just 1:25 after Klienbach’s goal, Boston’s captain scored the game-winner when tipped a shot from Mallory Souliotis through Wolejko. The Pride mobbed their captain and held fast to their 2-1 lead through the rest of the period.
Boston’s famous offense took over the game in the third period. Despite some indefatigable team defense from Connecticut, the Pride scored three goals in the third, including an empty-netter.
The Pride took a 3-1 lead when All-Star newcomer Christina Putigna scooped the puck up at her own blue line and flew up the ice to score an absolute beauty. The Canadian winger used a Whale defender as a screen and picked a corner, popping Wolejko’s water bottle, to give the Pride a two-goal lead.
With the clock working against his team, Whale head coach Colton Orr pulled Wolejko for an extra attacker to give his team a 6-on-4 advantage after Mary Parker was sent to the box for hooking. Unfortunately for the Whale, the power play simply could not break through Selander and Kaleigh Fratkin found the puck and sent it the length of the ice into the empty net to make it 4-1. Jordan Juron scored on the Pride’s power play 20 seconds later to seal the deal.
“The Cup Final against Minnesota is going to be an incredible game,” said Mara. “We’ve had big battles with them all year. It all comes down to Friday night between the two top teams.”
Selander finished the game with 29 saves (unofficially) and was undoubtedly one of Boston’s stars. The Whale challenged her early and often, but the NWHL’s Goaltender of the Year was up to the challenge. Next Friday, she’ll face the speedy Whitecaps led by the ever-dangerous Allie Thunstrom.
“We’ll enjoy it tonight but then keep the energy going all week,” Selander said after the win. “We have to be ready to play our best game of the season in the Cup Final.”
Tickets for the 2020 Isobel Cup Final at Warrior Ice Arena in Boston go on sale tomorrow at noon at nwhl.zone/tickets.
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay