Picture this: your team is 23-1-0 in the regular season. You have the highest-scoring defenseman and a complete team with the league?s best record.
You make the championship final only for it to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And that?s how the season ends.
No rescheduling, no chance to play for your second banner.
That?s exactly what happened to the Boston Pride.
The team was supposed to take part in the Isobel Cup against the Minnesota Whitecaps for the NWHL?s biggest trophy last March. But the coronavirus threw a wrench in those plans, and the 2019-20 Isobel Cup was claimed by no one.
Of course, the health and safety of the players, coaches and staff take priority. And we didn?t know a whole lot about COVID-19 10 months ago. We can?t dwell on what could have been.
But now the Pride, and the rest of the NWHL, are preparing for their 2020-21 season in a Lake Placid bubble that will run from Jan. 23 until Feb. 5. The season will be quick and something a bit different than what teams have been used to in the past.
But the end goal remains the same for Boston, especially how last year concluded. In fact, before the Isobel Cup was canceled, the Pride had the league on watch.
“We keep calling it our ‘revenge tour,'” Pride general manager Karilyn Pilch told NESN.com. “… I feel like someone wrote way, way back, I don’t even think they had canceled the Cup yet. But they had talked to a couple of players about their passion for the game and for the team and where they felt like we were at. So, someone was like, ‘oh my gosh. The entire NWHL better be on watch if this game doesn’t happen.'”
To say the Pride are a strong team would be an understatement. And they continued to bolster their athleticism in the offseason when they drafted Sammy Davis out of Boston University with the No. 1 overall pick in April.
Pilch knows the mix of vets coupled with solid rookies only will make Boston more of a threat on the ice.
“We have some great, great leadership and we have some very veteran players and whole lot of new talent,” she said. “So it’s this really good mix of people of that group that was so hungry to have the final achievement of this remarkable season last year. But now you’ve got six rookies, they haven’t even played a game yet and they’re chomping at the bit every single day.
“So it’s been this really good mix for us. Like I said, our rookies are so talented and the core group that we brought back from last season, they’ve meshed together so well, and it’s fun to watch and I can’t wait to see them compete.”
Couple that with the defense of Briana Mastel and Kaleigh Fratkin and Mary Parker?s 15 goals in 17 games last year, well then opponents better be on their A-game. Boston also has quite the goalie tandem in NWHL Goaltender of the Year Lovisa Selander (17 wins, 1.71 goals-against average in 2019) and Victoria Hanson (6-0, 1.97 GAA).
It?s no doubt this season will be like any other, but it?s sure to deliver in excitement, and the Pride have unfinished business ahead of them.
Besides, revenge is a dish best served cold, right?