It all comes down to one game. Win you make history and get a trophy, lose and your season ends ignominiously. Each team is out to prove they belong and hopes to etch themselves into history.
(3) Boston Pride v (1) Connecticut Whale
How to Watch: ESPN2, TSN2
Game Time: 9PM ET
Location: AdventHealth Center Ice Arena, Tampa FL
How We Got Here
The Whale for much of the PHF’s history have largely been a sort of also-ran; minus the inaugural season, they’ve struggled to put together any sort of winning record...until this year. And this year, they let the world know that Danbury Connecticut’s finest are not to be trifled with; a 15-3-2 record, the best goal differential in the league, a superstar in Kennedy Marchment headlining that golden horde of a forward corps, even Blueliners like Allie Munroe picking up major points like it’s nothing, and topped off with Quinnipiac’s finest women’s goaltender Abbie Ives in net. The Whale won their first ever regular season title when they were on the brink against the Toronto Six in the final game in the regular season, a single dropped point meant a second place. What they did was blow the Six off the ice. After a bye for the first round Connecticut handled Minnesota to book their first ever championship game appearance. This was only the second playoff game the franchise has ever won, after winning the first one in their history. The only team of the original four PHF teams to not win Lady Izzy’s cup now has a chance to rectify that.
The Pride meanwhile, play the underdog in this matchup. Their championship defense looked kind of shaky coming into the playoffs, as they spent the end of the regular season losing in agonizing overtimes repeatedly. Once in the playoffs however, they turned into the Pride of old with two dominant victories, one over the Buffalo Beauts in a 6-0 drumming, and the second over the Six, denying them a spot in the finals for the second consecutive season.
Keys to the Game
No matter the result we will have a historic first. If Connecticut wins they will be the fifth team to win the trophy in the six times it has been awarded, the last of the Founding Four to do so. If the Pride pull off the upset they will both be the first three time champion but also the only team to defend their title.
Avoiding the Upset
Of the five seasons that have awarded a trophy in only two of them have the top seeded team hoisted the Cup. Those were the inaugural season in which the Pride rolled through the league and the Whitecaps maiden season. In the canceled 2020 playoffs the Pride were primed to defend the top seed on home ice but the game was cancelled.
The Pride were previously a non-option on the power play right up until the postseason started, after which it became impossible to stop them on the woman-advantage. It’s hard to say if it was a flash in the pan running into Buffalo and Toronto being unprepared or having their worst PK of the year when it mattered most, but they’ve seem to have awakened their inner dragons, and not a moment too soon. In the 3 out of the 4 games the Pride dropped to the Whale this year, it was abundantly clear that if they couldn’t equalize on special teams, they probably weren’t going to win. That’s true now more than it ever has been before, and they have to take every opportunity presented to them, otherwise the Whale’s hellacious even-strength offense could prove devastating.
The Whale took three of the four meetings in the regular season. The Pride have added some incredibly talented depth in the forms of Vanisova and Flanagan over the back half of the season which promises to shake those results up.
While the Whale clearly put up a great body of work for the regular season the Pride have been to this point before and know the emotions that will flood through. They have a roster that is loaded with champions and the way they have been playing of late makes it seem like them winning might just be inevitable.
Boston Pride 4 - Connecticut Whale 2