Minnesota’s Lee Stecklein scored 49 seconds into overtime to give the Whitecaps a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Beauts in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) championship final. The Isobel Cup win comes in Minnesota’s first season in the NWHL.
The game was a defensive battle with both teams scoring goals in the first period. The Beauts got the first one on a power play goal by Emily Pfalzer. Minnesota tied it up just 1:22 later when Amy Menke scored on a breakaway. The goaltenders shut down opposing offenses the rest of regulation. Amanda Leveille made 22 saves for the Whitecaps while Nicole Hensley made 28 saves playing for the injured Shannon Szabados. This was the first time since the NWHL switched to a single-elimination playoff system that the final has gone into overtime to be decided.
The Isobel Cup Final was played at TRIA Rink in Minnesota which was the tenth consecutive sellout for the Whitecaps.
Minnesota finished first in the regular season with a 12-4-0 record then defeated the Metropolitan Riveters 5-1 in the semifinals. Buffalo finished the NWHL season in second place with an 11-4-1 record and shut out the Boston Pride 4-0 in the semifinals. This was Buffalo’s fourth straight appearance in the final. They won the cup in 2017.
The Isobel Cup is the championship trophy awarded to the NWHL champions. It is named after Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy who was one of the first known women to play the game and daughter of Lord Stanley. The National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley.
The Toronto Marlies officially ended the 2017-2018 hockey season with their Game 7 win over the Texas Stars last night. All of the cups have been won and here are the leagues and teams that have claimed their titles:
American Hockey League (AHL): Toronto Marlies
- Andreas Johnson and Mason Marchment each scored twice while netminder Garret Sparks made 29 saves at the Marlies defeated the Texas Stars 6-1 in Game 7 to win their first Calder Cup and the first men’s professional hockey title for the city of Toronot since 1967.
ECHL: Colorado Eagles
- Colorado defeated the Florida Everblades in seven games to repeat as Kelly Cup champions in their final season before moving to the AHL next season. The Eagles rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the third period as Gabriel Verpaelst netted the game winner with 2:29 left.
Federal Hockey League (FHL): Watertown Wolves
- The Wolves defeated the Port Huron Prowlers 3 games to 1 to win the Commissioner’s Cup. This was their second FHL title having won it previously in 2015. Gavin Yates led the Wolves with six goals in the playoffs and was awarded the league’s MVP.
Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL): Huntsville Havoc
- The Havoc became the first fourth-seeded team to win the SPHL President’s Cup beating the Peoria Rivermen 2 games to 1. Sy Nutkevtich, who scored a goal in each playoff game against Peoria, had 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) in the postseason and was named the MVP. This was the Havoc’s second league title. They last won it in 2010.
National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL): Metropolitan Riveters
- The Riveters knocked off the defending Isobel Cup champs with a 1-0 win over the Buffalo Beauts. Katie Fitzgerald was the game’s MVP as she held Buffalo scoreless. Alexa Gruschow got the game’s only goal in the first period for the Riveters. This was their first Isobel Cup title.
North American Hockey League (NAHL): Shreveport Mudbugs
- The Mudbugs came from behind to beat the Minot Minotauros 2-1 to win the Robertson Cup. Cole Quisenberry tipped home the game winner early in the third period for the Mudbugs. This was the Mudbugs’ first title in the NAHL. The franchise had previously won titles in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2011 in the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) and Central Hockey League (CHL).
United States Hockey League (USHL): Fargo Force
- The Force won their first title in team history winning the Clark Cup over the Youngstown Phantoms. The Force got a late goal from Ty Farmer and an empty net goal from Mark Senden wo win 4-2 in Game 4 and clinch the series 3 games to 1. It took 10 years, 667 games and 63 playoff games for their first title.
Western Hockey League (WHL): Swift Current Broncos
- The Broncos captured the Memorial Cup for the first time in 25 years. Beck Malenstyn put in an empty net goal to shut the door on the Everett Silvertips for a 3-0 win in Game 6. It wasn’t an easy path for the Broncos as it took them seven games to eliminate the Regina Pats in the first round and another seven games to advance past Moose Jaw in the second round. In the Eastern Conference final, they defeated Lethbridge 4 games to 2.
It is the middle of June and the ice has finally melted on the 2016-2017 hockey season. Here is a recap on the champions of each league:
National Hockey League (NHL): Pittsburgh Penguins
- The Penguins are the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998. The Penguins defeated Columbus (4-1), Washington (4-3), Ottawa (4-3) and Nashville (4-2) to win their 5th cup in franchise history. Sidney Crosby was named the MVP.
American Hockey League (AHL): Grand Rapids Griffins
- The Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch in six games to win their second Calder Cup. They defeated Milwaukee (3-0), Chicago (4-1) and San Jose (4-1) on their way to the Cup final. Griffins’ forward Tyler Bertuzzi was named the finals MVP. The Griffins are the top farm team for the Detroit Red Wings.
ECHL: Colorado Eagles
- The Eagles won their first Kelly Cup championship in team history. Defenseman Matt Register was named the MVP to become the first defenseman in the ECHL’s 29-year history to receive the award. The Eagles defeated Idaho (4-1), Allen (4-2), Toledo (4-1) and South Carolina (4-0) to win the Cup. The Eagles are affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche.
Federal Hockey League (FHL): Danville Dashers
- The Dashers completed the best season in Danville history by winning the Commissioner’s Cup after setting a new league record with 129 points in the regular season. The Dashers defeated Watertown (2-1) and Berlin (3-2) to win their first championship. Danville forward Gehrett Sargis was named the MVP of the Commissioner Cup playoffs with four goals and four assists.
Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL): Macon Mayhem
- The Mayhem won their first President’s Cup title in just their second season. They defeated Columbus (2-1), Pensacola (2-0) and Peoria (2-0). Goalie Jordan Ruby was named the MVP.
North American Hockey League (NAHL): Lone Star Brahmas
- The Brahmas were crowned Robertson Cup National Champions. Drake Glover was named the tournament MVP to lead the Brahmas their first title. Lone Star defeated Wichita Falls (3-0), Corpus Christi (3-2), Janesville (2-0) and Aston (1-0) on their way to the Robertson Cup.
United States Hockey League (USHL): Chicago Steel
- The Steel won the Clark Cup Championship beating the Sioux City Musketeers 3 games to 2 for their first title. Eduards Tralmaks was the MVP with 10 goals and two assists in the playoffs. His 10 goals are tied for the most in USHL playoff history. Chicago defeated Youngstown (3-2) and Dubuque (3-1) in the playoffs.
Western Hockey League (WHL): Seattle Thunderbirds
- The Thunderbirds captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time in the team’s 40-year history. Mathew Barzal was named the MVP. Seattle defeated Tri-City (4-0), Everett (4-0), Kelowna (4-2) and Regina (4-2). The Thunderbirds won a dramatic Game 6 at Regina in overtime to win the cup.
National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL): Buffalo Beauts
- The Beauts stunned heavily favored Boston Pride to win the Isobel Cup. Despite a third place finish in the regular season, Buffalo defeated the Pride 3-2 to win the title. Buffalo goalie Brianne McLaughlin was named MVP with 60 saves in the game. The Beauts defeated New York (4-2) and Boston (3-2) in the playoffs.
In her final game as a professional athlete, Buffalo’s Brianne McLaughlin stopped 60 of 62 shots to lead the Buffalo Beauts to an upset of the heavily favored Boston Pride in the 2017 National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) Isobel Cup final.
Despite finishing third in the league standings, Buffalo took an early 1-0 lead just 1:44 into the game when Megan Bozek scored a goal off the post. Emily Janiga scored later in the period to put the Beauts up 2-0 over a stunned Pride team. Boston tried to rally from a 3-1 deficit but could only score with 4.2 seconds left.
For most of the game, the Beauts totally frustrated the Pride’s Megan Duggan, Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight and Blake Bolden who combined for 32 shots on goal.
The Beauts lost to the Pride in last year’s final and had not won consecutive games this season until the final three games.
In the semifinal games, the Pride crushed the Connecticut Whale 8-2. The Beauts upset the New York Riveters 4-2.
With the dramatic finish, the league’s future is uncertain. Due to financial troubles, the league ended its season a month early and reduced the Isobel Cup playoffs to single elimination. The league began play in 2015-16.