It all comes down to one game. Win, you make history and get a trophy, lose and your season ends in ignominy. Each team is there to prove that they belong and hope to make history.
(3) Boston Pride vs. (1) Connecticut Whale
How to watch: ESPN2, TSN2
Game time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: AdventHealth Center Ice Arena, Tampa FL
How we got here
The whale for much of PHF’s history was largely a race of sorts as well; minus the inaugural season, they’ve struggled to muster any kind of winning record…until this year. And this year, they let the world know that Danbury Connecticut’s best are not to be taken lightly; a 15-3-2 record, the best goal differential in the league, a Kennedy Marchment superstar headlining that golden horde of a forward corps, even Blueliners like Allie Munroe picking up big points business as usual, and crowned Quinnipiac Women’s Top Teams goaltender Abbie Ives in the net. The Whale won their first-ever regular season title as they teetered against the Toronto Six in the final game of the regular season, a single point drop meant a second-place finish. What they did was blow the Six out of the ice. After a first-round bye, Connecticut managed Minnesota to book its first-ever appearance in a championship game. It was only the second playoff game the franchise had won, after winning the first in franchise history. The only team of the original four PHF teams to not win the Lady Izzy Cup now has a chance to rectify that.
The Pride, meanwhile, are playing the underdog in this match. Their championship defense looked rather shaky heading into the playoffs, as they spent the end of the regular season losing repeatedly in agonizing overtime. Once in the playoffs though, they became the pride of old with two dominating wins, one over the Buffalo Beauts in a 6-0 drumming, and the second over the Six, denying them a place in the Finals for the second consecutive season. .
The keys to the game
Regardless of the outcome, we will have a historic first. If Connecticut wins, they will be the fifth team to win the trophy in the six times it has been awarded, the last of the four founders to do so. If Pride pulls off the surprise, they will both be the first three champions but also the only team to defend their title.
Of the five seasons that have awarded a trophy in only two of them, the highest ranked team has won the Cup. It was the inaugural season in which the Pride crossed the league and the Whitecaps’ first season. In the canceled 2020 playoffs, Pride were set to defend the top seed at home, but the game was called off.
The Pride were previously not an option on the power play until the start of the playoffs, after which it became impossible to stop them on the women’s advantage. It’s hard to say if it was a flash in the pan when Buffalo and Toronto were unprepared or had their worst PK of the year when it mattered most, but they seem to have awakened their inner dragons , and not a moment too soon . In the 3 out of 4 games Pride have fallen to Whale this year, it was abundantly clear that if they couldn’t equalize on special teams, they were probably not going to win. That’s more true now than ever before, and they must seize every opportunity that comes their way or the whale’s incredible equal-strength attack could prove devastating.
The Whale have won three of four regular season meetings. Pride added incredibly talented depth in the forms of Vanisova and Flanagan in the second half of the season, which promises to upend these results.
While the Whale has clearly put together a great job for the regular season, Pride has already been this far and knows the emotions that will flood. They have a full roster of champions and the way they have been playing lately makes it look like they might inevitably win.
Boston Pride 4 – Connecticut Whale 2