The first of two women’s hockey championships in a one week span has been crowned, with the expansion Minnesota Whitecaps defeating the Buffalo Beauts on home ice in a 2-1 overtime victory to capture the 2019 Isobel Cup.
With Beauts starting goaltender and Olympic medallist Shannon Szabados scratched just before the game with an injury, the opportunity seemed ripe for the Whitecaps to pounce on backup goaltender Nicole Hensley. But the Beauts in fact struck first, with an Emily Pfalzer goal late in the first giving Buffalo the lead. Minnesota would tie just 76 seconds later on an Amy Menke tally, which would stand as the final goal until overtime, with both Hensley and Minnesota keeper Amanda Leveille standing tall, turning away 30 and 23 shots, respectively.
While many may have expected a lengthy overtime period with such a lack of scoring in the final 40 minutes, the Saint Paul crowd was stunned when Lee Stecklein, floating a harmless looking wrist shot from the point, beat Hensley five-hole just 49 seconds into overtime, giving the State of Hockey their first women’s title since the CWHL incarnation of the Whitecaps won the Clarkson Cup back in 2010. The 2019 Clarkson Cup will be awarded in one week’s time in Toronto, with the Montréal Canadiennes facing the Calgary Inferno.
Our congratulations go out to the players, management and fans of the Minnesota Whitecaps, in particular the six players that have also held the IHLC:
|🇺🇸 Hannah Brandt, forward
🇺🇸 Winny Brodt, defence
🇺🇸 Kendall Coyne, forward
|🇺🇸 Lee Stecklein, defence
🇺🇸 Allie Thunstrom, forward
🇺🇸 Brooke White, forward
The victory now presents an interesting conundrum for the women’s (unofficial) version of the Triple Gold Club, which traditionally has only documented winners of Olympic Gold, World Championship Gold and the Clarkson Cup, both due to the Clarkson predating the NWHL, and the majority of recent Olympic winners being Canadian. Now, Brandt, Coyne and Stecklein can all claim the troika with the Isobel Cup in hand, and a decision about if this is counts towards “Triple Gold” should be made shortly, particularly in light of ongoing talks of a CWHL-NWHL merger, and which trophy will emerge as the unified league’s championship.