The Boston Pride nearly had a repeat of 2020. But fortunately, the shortened season will continue this week.
Boston had its 2020 Isobel Cup game against the Minnesota Whitecaps canceled due to COVID-19, and the NWHL had to postpone its Lake Placid bubble season just ahead of the playoffs due to an outbreak throughout the league in February.
“Those (2020) feelings definitely crept back,” Pride captain Jillian Dempsey told NESN.com. “… Definitely brought up similar feelings.”
Dempsey revealed she remained optimistic throughout the brief postponement and held out hope the season would resume.
Now, Boston prepares to take on the Toronto Six on March 26 for a shot at the Isobel Cup. Toronto, in its inaugural NWHL season, also had a ton of momentum swinging its way when the season was put on hold. But the Pride are confident in their team and know what it takes to carry their momentum into the semifinals.
“What helped us out we were finally starting to hit our groove,” Dempsey said. “How we started wasn’t what we anticipated. … We had passion to win.”
Boston started the season losing four of its first five games before ending with blowout wins against the Buffalo Beauts. And even though Dempsey said it will be a “challenge to pick up” where the team left off, the momentum the Pride have in practice is reason to be optimistic.
“Our momentum is amazing,” she said. “… Everyone is in it. We know what we need to do and what we?re capable of doing.”
“We showed up a little bit to Lake Placid, But our last two games is the way we wanna play hockey,” head coach Paul Mara told NESN.com. “We were firing on all cylinders. Offensively, great goaltending, great defense. … I think our team is confident, and we’re really excited to get going.”
Even with the games getting postponed, the NBC still will air the games on their network, a first for professional women’s hockey.
“That’s the real deal,” Dempsey said. “The NHL and Olympics are on NBC. We were shocked and elated about it to have the opportunity be part of those games and make history, increase our visibility.”
“It’s great to showcase our league and our players,” Mara said. “I think whenever NBC can air women’s hockey, it’s an awesome thing. Especially the semifinals and finals for the Isobel Cup, I think it will show the world we have the best women’s hockey players in the world playing in our league. To showcase that on a Friday and Saturday night is gonna be huge. And for NBC to do that — we’re grateful. It’s gonna be great for hockey fans to watch.”
The Pride have a stacked lineup that features reigning Defender of the Year Kaleigh Fratkin (and also leads the team in assists and points), Goaltender of the Year Lovisa Selander and NWHL all-time leading scorer Dempsey, just to name a few. And Mara knows if Boston can play up to its potential, the Isobel Cup will be back where it belongs.
“I think if we play the way we’re capable of playing, both as a team and individually, then we’ll be raising the Isobel Cup on Saturday,” Mara said.
Pride-Six is set for 5 p.m. ET.