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Pride thrown a lifeline as Riveters pull out of the NWHL Bubble

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It seemed like everything that could go wrong for the Pride has, but the realities of the pandemic have unintentionally allowed them an opportunity back into Isobel Cup contention

2016 Isobel Cup - Game 2 Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images for NWHL

Saying this has been a rough shortened season for the Boston Pride is kind of underselling it. They have, in such a short time:

  • All but assuredly lost their best player, Jillian Dempsey, to a reaggravated injury, as well as young blueliner Jenna Rheault, who was expected to take a big step forward in her game this year, to a wrist fracture.
  • Have been fighting their own power play for success, with a pitiful 4 goals from 26 power plays assessed, including at least a couple of 5-on-3’s.
  • Were as of Wednesday fighting for the final spot of the playoff, rather than expecting to be comfortably atop the leaderboard as anticipated.
  • Lost to Connecticut for the first time since 2016, no thanks to ex-Pride player Alyssa Wohlfeiler, who now leads the pre-tourney games in points.

So yeah, it’s been an ugly few days for the Lionesses of Allston.

But, fate deemed it so that they might have a chance after all at playoff hockey...but only at a great price: One of the teams in said bubble having to pull out, due to COVID concerns.

The Metropolitan Riveters announced today that they would be pulling out of the NWHL Bubble in Lake Placid due to multiple members of the organization testing positive for COVID. A heartbreaking development for the NY/NJ based team, who by that point were in a comfortable 3rd place, ready to take on their final few games before the playoffs began.

What this means for the Pride is that the previously upcoming game against the Rivs has been cancelled, and that, barring the addition of new games for potential tiebreakers, they have ultimately qualified for the playoffs. While previously they were on the outside looking in, the loss of the Rivs means that the only games left to play on the schedule that didn’t involve them are on Saturday, and all involve teams now jockeying for 2nd and 3rd place (Toronto and Connecticut), and the 1st place Minnesota Whitecaps playing a winless Buffalo. And unless Buffalo somehow pulls a major upset? It’s very unlikely that will change. Of course, given the Pride’s luck so far, they should be pulling big time for the team they will all but certainly end up facing come next week to rout the Beauts, but regardless, it now gives them ample time to prepare and hopefully get slightly healthier and better rested for the postseason.

It also gives a sharp pointer onto a simple but sharp fact about the pandemic that has pervaded: unless you’re in a hole in the ground out in Siberia somewhere, nowhere and nothing is 100% safe from COVID right now, especially not in the United States: The Rivs didn’t have any positive or asymptomatic cases prior to making it to Lake Placid, and even then they still somehow got it. And that isn’t the fault of anybody: the virus’ entire function is to infect and then continue to infect others. It doesn’t care about anything other than that.

We personally wish all members of the Riveters well, a full recovery to those in the organization who caught it, and to see them back on the ice in 2022.