(Photo Credit: Michelle Jay)

By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna

As many of you know by now, the NWHL is planning to play a condensed season in a bubble to ensure they can award the Isobel Cup this year. The bubble will take place at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York, the same location as the historic 1980 USA Olympic team. The current plan has the season starting on January 23rd and ending on February 5th, when the Isobel Cup is awarded to the winning team.   

History of the Isobel Cup

The Isobel Cup is the trophy awarded to the championship team of the National Women’s Hockey League. The trophy is named after Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley’s daughter, Isobel. As the story is told on the NWHL website, Isobel shared the love of the game with her father and “is known to be one of the first female hockey players in Canada.” Previous winners of the Isobel Cup include the Boston Pride (2015-16), the Buffalo Beauts (2016-17), the Metropolitan Riveters (2017-18), and the Minnesota Whitecaps (2018-19). The decision was made in May of 2020 to cancel the 2019-20 Isobel cup due to COVID-19. 

More Bubble Hockey, More Fun

With the current plan to have the Isobel Cup and 2020-21 season take place in a bubble, there are many differences in the season format. The seasons shortened timeline looks as follows:

  • Starting on January 21st and continuing on January 22nd, the six teams will arrive in a staggered fashion to Lake Placid, NY. 
  • On January 23rd, the season will officially start. 
  • Each team will play five games (one against each of the other teams). This will conclude the regular season. 
  • When the regular season ends, a single playoff round will determine the four semifinal teams.
  • The top seed will face the fourth seed. The second seed will take on the third seed. These will be single-elimination games to determine the series.
  • The Isobel Cup Final will take place on February 5th, and the cup will be awarded. 

This schedule is subject to change based on the league’s needs and strict COVID-19 protocols. The NWHL has been very transparent with its protocol and has gone out of its way to make a point of regular testing coordinated by Yale Pathology Labs. 

A Dominant Boston Pride

In their last season, before the pandemic, the Boston Pride had a dominant regular season with a record of 23-1. During that season, Jillian Dempsey led the league with 40 points and 23 assists. In addition to the offensive domination, Pride netminder Lovisa Selander had a dominant season as well, posting a league-leading 1.71 GAA, .941 save percentage, and 17 wins. 

Their dominance continued off the ice once COVID-19 hit with their social media game. The Boston Pride social media team definitely deserves a raise when you spend some time enjoying their Twitter battle with the league’s first-year expansion team, the Toronto Six. Below are just a couple of examples of their off ice dominance. 

For the full picture, give the Boston Pride a follow on Twitter.

The Upcoming 2020-2021 Season

The team is going to be constructed a bit differently this year. The loss of Lexi Bender, the veteran defender, will have a major impact on the team, but not all hope is lost. The team is bringing in some young rookies who will add another dynamic to the team we didn’t see in their previous season. With a short season and one that will be a tournament style, it certainly feels like the Boston Pride could be favorites going into this season if they can come even close to their previous season performance. It’s been a long break, with a lot of strange things going on in the world, but if I had to put my money down on an NWHL team, I’m taking the Boston Pride ten out of ten times. It’s going to be an awesome season, so be sure to follow our coverage on blackngoldhockey.com.