Last season’s conclusion for the pre-eminent women’s hockey club in Boston was a brutal way to end, since the team as never even given the chance to play the final game, at home, in front of a sellout crowd, against a team they easily won the season series against. The game was postponed indefinitely in March as lockdowns spread across the country and in May the NWHL announced that the game would not be played.
As a result of all of this the biggest storyline out of the Pride camp will easily be finishing the job. The Pride lost some players but seemingly replaced those losses with upgrades.
The other big story line will be how the Pride, along with every other team, handles the bubble and the lack of preparation time. The limited games, the most anyone could play is nine if they make it to the championship, will certainly play a factor as there will be no room for error.
The highlight of the additions is the top overall pick out of Boston University, Sammy Davis. While the Terriers have had little action in which to miss the superstar the Pride are eagerly awaiting her debut in the Lake Placid bubble. Another prime addition is the Czech sniper out of Maine, Tereza Vanišová.
On the departure side the Pride losses were highlighted by Emily Fluke moving to the new Toronto 6, while Alyssa Wohlfeiler returned back to the Connecticut Whale.
For the stars in net both of last year’s tandem in Lovisa Selander and Victoria Hanson return. Neither net minder tallied a GAA above 2.0 last season. No other goalie in the league matched that mark, only the Whitecaps’ goalies were above them.
The blue line will be highlighted by the defending defender of the year in Kaleigh Fratkin and her partner Mallory Souliotis. Which are dangerous but their next best defenders Lauren Kelly and Lexi Bender are good enough to be top pairing defenders for most teams.
Ignoring the two additions (not recommended for opponents), the Pride are deadly up top. There were eight skaters that called at least 20 points (one defender), two achieved 30 and then there was the Captain Jillian Dempsey who notched an impressive 40 points.
I am not going to sugarcoat this preview. This season the Pride are the overwhelming favorites to take home their second Isobel Cup. Everything on paper seems to align with this belief, and experts from here to Australia agree on it.
But of course, nothing is certain in sports, and in a one game elimination tournament especially when there is so little warm up before-hand, can lead to some potentially dramatic results. But if all the teams live up to their potential? If the Pride show up ready to go?
There will be another banner hanging at Warrior Rink next season.