PREVIEW: Entering the Isobel Cup playoffs

Photo credit: Meg Linehan

The NWHL’s regular season concluded this past weekend, which featured the Metropolitan Riveters and Buffalo Beauts splitting a pair of contests, while the Minnesota Whitecaps won both of their home games against the Connecticut Whale.

It may not have influenced the Isobel Cup Playoffs seeding, but teams were given a chance to warm up and prepare for the postseason. Here’s a quick look at each playoff matchup this upcoming weekend and the most likely outcomes.

(4) Buffalo Beauts vs. (5) Connecticut Whale

This will be the first meeting between these two teams since November 30, when the Beauts defeated the Whale by a final score of 6-2. In fact, Buffalo swept the season series against Connecticut, winning all five games by a combined score of 23-12.

With home-ice advantage, Buffalo clearly has the edge over Connecticut. However, it’s only one game and anything can happen. Whale goalie Brooke Wolejko had a strong .914 save percentage this season and could very well steal one for her team.

(2) Minnesota Whitecaps vs. (3) Metropolitan Riveters

Despite finishing with 13 fewer points than the Whitecaps, the Riveters played them well and split the season series. They last faced off on Jan. 5, when the Riveters bested Minnesota by a final score of 3-1, suggesting this could be closer than many realize.

Whitecaps forward Allie Thunstrom scored 24 goals in as many games this season, meaning she’ll be relied upon in the playoffs. The Riveters will need forwards Madison Packer and Kate Leary to lead the way offensively if they hope to pull off the upset.

(1) Boston Pride vs. (4) Buffalo Beauts or (5) Connecticut Whale

Following an incredible 23-1-0 season, the Pride earned the top spot in this year’s playoffs and finished their season on Feb. 23. Their opponent is still to be determined, but Boston is the clear favourite whether they play Buffalo or Connecticut.

Pride forward Jillian Dempsey led the NWHL with 40 points, while goalie Lovisa Selander boasted a league-leading .941 save percentage. Boston is sure to be a tough out in these playoffs, but Minnesota proved they were beatable on Jan. 25.

Isobel Cup Playoffs Schedule

The quarterfinal game between Buffalo and Connecticut will take place on Mar. 6, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET. On Mar. 8, the Whitecaps will host the Riveters at 12:30 p.m. CT, while Boston’s semi-final game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET.

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