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There’s no doubt about the pro sports team that’s continuing to carry on the City of Champions tradition for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts these days.
It’s the Boston Pride from the women’s Premier Hockey Federation after capturing their second consecutive Isobel Cup on Monday night awarded to the playoff champion, and the third time in the six years that the Cup's been handed out to Boston’s entry in the women’s hockey league.
And for those that might not know, the Isobel Cup is named after Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy, one of the first known women to play the game of hockey and daughter of the namesake for the NHL’s championship chalice, Lord Stanley.
So now you know.
This time it was a 4-2 victory over the Connecticut Whale to make the Pride the first back-to-back winners in the PHF’s nearly decade-long history. Pride captain Jillian Dempsey, who has been with Boston since their opening season, had a goal and two points, and Taylor Wenczkowski scored the game-winner during a third period outburst where the Pride potted two big goals in 12 seconds.
Boston goaltender Katie Burt made 26 saves for the Pride, who stormed back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period to seize control of the game. It was a fitting show of a champion’s heart after a Pride hockey season that included its share of personal and professional adversity as all season-long campaigns do in testing the mettle and perseverance of the worthy players involved.
“Just on top of the world right now. There was so much adversity and really having to come together at the right time. I thought it was a full team win," said Dempsey following the championship win. "We definitely had our ups and downs, but that’s where you really become battle-tested and builds that toughness you’re going to need down the stretch. So many different situations that we had to respond to and learn and grow from, it set us up to come back in the third.
"The focus was always on trying to be the best hockey team we could be. We had glimpses of it, but we didn’t feel like we were our best hockey team until we got down to Tampa [for the playoffs]. And things gelled together.”
It clearly did come together, but it wasn't easy for the Pride this season. Not by a longshot.
Standout defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin endured the passing of her biggest fan, her dad Ron, during the regular season, and no doubt made him proud watching from the heavens as she excelled once again at the hockey game they loved together. If you haven’t been able to prior to now, check out the fund that Kaleigh and her brothers set up in their dad’s memory with HEROS hockey to make the wonderful game of hockey more accessible to everybody.
Pride forward Tori Sullivan courageously came forward with a sexual assault incident from her collegiate playing days at Boston College that ultimately led her to transfer to Northeastern University. Sullivan was inspired in no small part by ex-NHL player Kyle Beach’s decision to come forward with his experiences of sexual assault during his playing days in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, an action that is effecting change around the hockey world in its aftermath.
In the end, though, with the money on the table, the Pride dusted the Buffalo Beauts 6-0 in the semifinals and controlled the final 20 minutes of the championship game to secure a victory that once again proved their worthiness as champs.
"The adversity that this team went through off the ice, some you guys didn't see, some you did – [Kaleigh Fratkin], Tori [Sullivan], other things…for the last 5 days our team focused, our team played with heart, our team played with passion, and when we do that this is what happens,” said Boston Pride head coach and former New York Rangers and Boston Bruins defenseman Paul Mara. "It's hard to put into words. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions. The leadership, the character in that room is second-to-none."
After it was all over, it was time to celebrate on the ice where the game was played in Wesley Chapel, Florida right outside of Tampa.
The timing was nothing short of perfect with the Boston Bruins celebrating Women in Sports Night at TD Garden on Tuesday before, and during, a big Atlantic Division tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now one has to wonder if the Pride will be making some kind of victory appearance with the Isobel Cup, as they did last season post-Isobel victory, as they begin another long offseason of celebration and Cup parties after once again deservedly reaching the pinnacle of women’s professional hockey in back-to-back seasons.
If the Pride isn’t too careful with this winning thing they’re doing, people around the hockey world are going to start throwing out the dynasty word pretty soon.