Buffalo Beauts Win 2017 NWHL Isobel Cup

The Buffalo Beauts waited for the perfect time to put together their first consecutive wins this season: winning on the road in Connecticut in the regular season finale, beating the New York Riveters at their home rink in the semifinals and finally completing the trifecta beating the Boston Pride in a ‘neutral site’ championship game in Lowell, Massachusetts to win the NWHL’s 2017 Isobel Cup.

Behind 60-saves, yes that’s right – sixty – from Brianne McLaughlin the Beauts not only won the title in the NWHL’s second season, but they also avenged last season’s championship loss which came at the hands of the Pride. “Revenge is awesome,” McLaughlin, who played her final game as a pro said with a grin.

Revenge is Awesome

“I’m a little tired,’ she said laughing, “no, I felt great. We knew exactly what we had to do and that was: just get all over them, block shots, be in the way and be annoying. That’s exactly what we did, so it made my job a little easier.” The Beauts certainly annoyed the Pride with their attention to detail all over the ice, with every player in uniform playing a vital role.

The Boston shots were coming fast and furious, but it was 2017 NWHL Defender of the Year Megan Bozek who found the back of the net first in this game — firing a BozBlast from the blueline that whizzed past goaltender Brittany Ott, clanged off the post and fell into the net. “I wasn’t really trying to shoot to score but, we’ll take any momentum we can get,” she said following the game. “Especially early on in the game when we can carry that throughout; I think that helped us a lot in our shifts right after that and set the tone for that game.”

The shots from the Pride were coming in waves and each time McLaughlin was up to the task; the game was six minutes old and she had already made ten saves. Bozek was active all night on both ends of the ice and helped to thwart a 2-on-1 midway through the first period when she hustled back into her defensive zone and dove to the ice, extinguishing the scoring chance.

At the 13-minute mark, it was playoff-hero Emily Janiga scoring her third goal in two games, as she calmly skated from one side of the slot to the other and was able to whip a shot past Ott. “I’ve been putting extra time in off the ice knowing that I had a few things to work on in specific areas,” Janiga told THW. “I also have pretty good linemates side-by-side with me and that definitely helps with it.

Early in the middle period, Boston had a glorious chance to slice the lead in half but Hilary Knight whiffed on the puck with a gaping net in front of her before McLaughlin could react during a Buffalo penalty kill. That chance aside although the Pride were getting their chances, and the Beauts were generally clearing out rebounds quickly, blocking shots and giving their goalie clear sight lines throughout the entire game.

“We know that if we made one mistake, Boston is a team that will capitalize on every mistake another team makes so we had to make sure we were winning those battles,” explained Bozek of the Beauts’ strategy. “Getting the puck out, getting the puck deep in their zone, quick shifts. Just play as a team.”


Near the midway point of the second Corinne Buie — who would become the only player to win the Isobel Cup both seasons — won a race to a loose puck with Gigi Marvin, gathered it in and cut to the slot on her backhand and shoveled it under Ott. The large contingent of Boston fans collectively was stunned and it was easy to hear the yells of Buie and her teammates roaring in celebration of a 3-0 lead.

Less than a minute later Boston’s Jordan Smelker rang a shot off the post behind McLaughlin which just about summed up the night for the Pride. Close, but not enough. Not on this night.

The Beauts players blocked a total of fifteen shots in the game, including five during the final 2:10 when Boston was really pressing and exerting their will upon the game. “I think when you can block a shot, you want to block a shot; we just wanted to keep them to the outside and let them get those outside shots,” said Buffalo’s captain Emily Pfalzer.

Very quickly, McLaughlin who was right next to her smiled and chimed in, “I appreciated it.”

No I in Team

Bozek, who was on the other side of Pfalzer added, “Did you see how Emily walked in here limping, she blocked two huge shots that could have potentially been goals late in the third; that’s the sacrifice that it takes from every teammate.”

The Beauts held on despite two late goals by the Pride, but the story was MVP McLaughlin and her 60 saves, going out as a champion and how this team rallied together and pulled off one of the most impressive upsets in professional sports history.

“We’ve been short players with travel and jobs and whatnot; it’s been great to have a full lineup, playing everyone. We had fun out there like Bri said — we communicated well, played as a team, and Beauts’ hockey as people would say is a grindy style of play but, we proved that that could work today,” said Bozek proudly. “I’m glad that we all were able to be a part of it; even the players that didn’t dress today — they are as much a part of this as we were out there on the ice today. I’m glad that everyone could come here and celebrate.”