Obscure Leagues: National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL)

Women have made significant strides in the sport of hockey. Olympic competitions have been the highlight of the sport for women with some intense games and rivalries. It is only natural that women would have a professional league of their own. The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) was started in 2015 and currently has six teams:

  • Buffalo Beauts
  • Boston Pride
  • Connecticut Whale
  • Metropolitan Riveters
  • Minnesota Whitecaps
  • Toronto Six

The NWHL had planned a 60-game schedule for the 2020-2021 season; however, due to COVID restrictions, the league changed with playing a limited five-game schedule in a bubble environment in Lake Placid, New York. The semifinals and championship game were to be played on the NBCSN network last weekend but two teams had issues with positive COVID-19 tests which forced the league to postpone the season.

While the National Hockey League (NHL) as the Stanley Cup for the league’s champion, the NWHL presents the Isobel Cup to their champions The Isobel Cup is named after Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy who was the daughter of Lord Frederick Stanley.

Isobel Cup Champions

  • 2015-2016 Boston Pride
  • 2016-2017 Buffalo Beauts
  • 2017-2018 Metropolitan Riveters
  • 2018-2019 Minnesota Whitecaps
  • 2019-2020 Canceled due to COVID-19
  • 2020-2021 Postponed

The Minnesota Whitecaps are the defending Isobel Cup champions from the 2019 season. The 2020 Isobel Cup final between Boston and Minnesota was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesota and Boston are the only teams who have partnerships with their NHL counterparts.

Before abruptly ending the 2021 season, the leading scorer was Mikyla Grant-Mentis (Toronto). Kaleigh Fratkin (Boston) lead the league with the most points. The top goaltender was Sonjia Shelly (Metropolitan).

If you would like more information about the league, visit their website at www.nwhl.zone

Beauts Upset Pride for Isobel Cup


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.