The Boston Pride have won the inaugural NWHL Isobel Cup with a 2-0 series sweep of the Buffalo Beauts. Brianna Decker scored twice in the contest, including the Cup-winning goal, and was named playoff MVP.
One year after winning the CWHL’s Clarkson Cup, Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight have again led a Boston-based women’s team to a championship. This time, however, it’s the NWHL’s Boston Pride as Knight and Decker's squad have won the inaugural Isobel Cup.
The Pride opened the series with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 that was capped by a controversial penalty shot game-winner by Hilary Knight in the extra frame, but Boston wasn’t going to let the Buffalo Beauts get close to ruining the series sweep Saturday night.
In a tight-checking game, the Pride took a 1-0 lead on a goal by captain Brianna Decker midway through the first period. Decker was spotted flying up ice by Knight who fed a perfect stretch pass to Decker for a partial breakaway. Decker made no mistake, firing the puck past Beauts goaltender Brianne McLaughlin. She wasn’t done there.
Her opening goal would remain the only marker for the duration of the first period and the entire second frame, but Decker extended the Pride’s lead in the third period with a shorthanded tally. Knight broke away shorthanded midway through the third and was stopped by McLaughlin, but Knight was able to regain possession before making a great cross-ice pass to Decker, who hammered a one-timer past McLaughlin to extend the Pride’s lead to two.
Little more than two minutes later, the Pride’s lead was extended to 3-0 when Knight took a cross-ice feed from Jordan Smelker, made a quick move and buried a beautiful backhander. Knight’s goal would end up as the insurance marker after Erin Zach scored to pull the Beauts within two. Zach’s goal came with 37 seconds remaining in the game, however, not nearly enough time for Buffalo to get back into the contest. After the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Pride flew off the bench and piled onto goaltender Brittany Ott.
During their post-game celebrations, the Pride paid tribute to Denna Laing, who fell seriously injured during the Outdoor Women’s Classic. Several of the Pride players live-streamed their celebrations with Laing and the entire team hoisted a sign bearing the No. 24 — Laing’s number — during the trophy presentation.
With her two goals in the contest and nine points in four post-season games, Decker was named the playoff MVP. And with the victory, the Pride become the first ever NWHL club to hoist Isobel Cup, so named after the daughter of Lord Stanley, the namesake of the Stanley Cup.
"Today we lift the Cup as professional women's hockey players,” Pride defender Gigi Marvin said post-game
. “Something we always dreamed of.”