Last weekend, the NWHL held their first playoff games of the 2017-2018 season. On Saturday, March 17th, the Boston Pride visited the Buffalo Beauts, with the latter-mentioned team coming out victorious. The next day, Sunday, March 18th, the Metropolitan Riveters hosted the Connecticut Whale, with the aforementioned team emerging as the winner. The Isobel Cup Final is now set, with the reigning champ Buffalo Beauts facing the Metropolitan Riveters in Newark on Sunday, March 25th, at 3:00. But, how did these two teams get here? Let’s take a look at the first round of NWHL playoffs before the winner-takes-all round kicks off.
On Saturday, the game began with a goal about halfway through the first period. Beauts defenseman Sarah Edney scored a goal assisted by Hayley Scamurra and Kourtney Kunichika. Following the goal were two Boston power plays, but the visitors came up empty both times. However, the period ended with the Pride tying up the game, using a goal by Heather Schwartz and assisted by Mary Parker. In the second frame, Buffalo more than doubled their shots from the prior 20 minutes. As the period came to a close, Boston took the lead on a goal by Parker, bringing her to her second point of the night, with the helper going to Lexi Bender. On an early power play in the third period, Buffalo was able to bounce back immediately, with Corrinne Buie tallying her first of the game after countless scoring chances earlier in the contest.
After a few late penalties, 60 minutes was not enough, and the game went into overtime. Just minutes into the extra frame, after chances on both sides, the title of Ms. Overtime went to Beauts defender Sarah Casorso, scoring her first NWHL goal and the game-winner on a beautiful pass from Maddie Elia. Although the Beauts came out on top, it was a hard-fought game on both sides, especially by goaltenders Brittany Ott for Boston and Amanda Leveille for Buffalo. This game propelled the Buffalo Beauts to their third consecutive Isobel Cup Final, eliminating the Boston Pride in the first round for the first time in NWHL history.
The next day, The Metropolitan Riveters and Connecticut Whale faced off for that final remaining spot in the Isobel Cup Final. The game was full of energy, between the players and the fans. The Riveters took control early, and they didn’t let go of it until the final buzzer sounded. Just 64 seconds into the game, the speedy Rebecca Russo scored a goal that sent the crowd into a frenzy. A few minutes later, after power-play chances on both sides, Erika Lawler multiplied Metropolitan’s lead by two.
Although the Whale had multiple scoring opportunities on the man-advantage into the second and third periods, they simply couldn’t find the back of the net. On one of Connecticut’s power plays, Madison Packer ripped a shorthanded goal into the back of the net, firing up the crowd even more. With one more goal by the then-birthday-girl Bray Ketchum, Connecticut’s goaltender Sydney Rossman was pulled and Keira Goin was put into the game. Kelly Nash capped off the game by putting one more past the Whale, sending the Riveters to their first Isobel Cup Final in franchise history.
On this Sunday, March 25th, at 3:00 PM, the first-seed Metropolitan Riveters will host the team who eliminated them from last year’s playoffs, the second-seed Buffalo Beauts. This is a never-before-seen Isobel Cup Final matchup, as the first two years saw Buffalo facing Boston. While the game itself is sold-out(!), you can follow along by streaming the game on the NWHL’s Twitter. In addition, we will have two members of our Puck It Up staff right there in Newark to cover the game! Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and add us on Snapchat (@PuckItUpBlog) to come along for the ride.
Who do you think will win this year’s Isobel Cup? Will Buffalo be the first team in NWHL history to repeat? Or is it finally the Riveters’ year? Let us know by tweeting us: @PuckItUpBlog.
Want to read our preview from this year’s first round of NWHL playoffs? Click here!