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Whitecaps face off for Isobel Cup

03/25/2023, 2:30pm CDT
By Jackson Boline

The Whitecaps last won the Isobel Cup in 2019.

Team will face Toronto Six Sunday in Tempe

The Isobel Cup takes its name from Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley’s Daughter, Isobel, who is known to be the first female hockey player in Canada. As hockey fans know the Stanley Cup was named after her father Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley which is awarded to the National Hockey League champion. 

         The front of the Isobel Cup reads: "The Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Cup 1875-1963. This Cup shall be awarded annually to the greatest professional women's hockey team in North America. All who pursue this Cup, pursue a dream; a dream born with Isobel, that shall never die. EST. 2016.” 

         The Minnesota Whitecaps have a chance to live the dream for the second time since the birth of this distinguished championship when they take on the Toronto Six Sunday in Tempe, AZ. They last held the trophy in the team's inaugural year in 2018-19. The Whitecaps defeated the Buffalo Beauts 2-1 in overtime after Roseville native Lee Stecklein scored the game winning goal.

         The leading scorer of the 2018-19 team, Jonna Albers, is one of the few players who still remain on the Whitecaps. Albers, from Elk River, is still a top scorer on the Whitecaps. This season she has 20 points (10 goals, and 10 assists) and leads the team in the postseason with two goals and four assists in two games.

         The Whitecaps have 14 players who are Minnesota natives, including their top six scorers:

Natalie Snodgrass - Eagan (10-10-20) 

Jonna Albers - Elk River (10-10-20) 
Sidney Morin - Minnetonka (7-10-17)
Liz Schepers - Mound (6-8-14) 

Patti Marshall - Thief River Falls, Mn (2-10-12)

Sydney Brodt - Northern Oaks (5-4-9) 

Sydney Brodt said she looked up to a few players while growing up playing in the state of hockey.

“Growing up I always looked up to Winny (Winny Brodt-Brown) because she is the queen of Ms. Hockey, but I do have a memory of Gigi Marvin coming to one of my practices and she is one of my idols, and getting her autograph was a great memory”, said Brodt 

The Whitecaps had to go through the back-to-back Isobel Cup champion Boston Pride to advance to the finals. In a best-of-three series, Minnesota swept the Pride 2-0, winning game one 5-2 and game two 4-1.  Both these games were played at Bentley Arena near Boston.  

         It was a stark contrast to how they ended their regular season by losing eight of the final 10 games. 

“It obviously wasn’t the end to the season we wanted, but our mentality was to just wipe it off and focus on the playoffs,” said defenseman Sydney Bladwin. 

This mentality clearly worked against Boston, defeating the team that handed the Whitecaps two losses just a couple weeks prior. 

         Minnesota will face the Toronto Six in the Isobel Cup. The Six have a record of 17-5-2 on the season which was good enough for second in the PHF standings.  Toronto swept the Connecticut Whale in their playoff matchup, winning game one 3-2 and 3-0 in game two.  

“We have that underdog mentality with nothing to lose,” Said defenseman Sydney Morin about facing the Toronto Six.

The Six swept the Whitecaps in the regular season, winning all four games they played. Most games were close, other than back on Feb. 26, when the Six won 7-1.

         “We were in desperate need of a reset, and we took full advantage of having the opportunity to compete and earn our way into a championship," said Forward Liz Shepers. 

The Whitecaps showed what their team was truly made of in the playoffs, and how sick of losing they were. 

         “We have a team full of competitors and they were done losing so they knew a fresh start means the past doesn't mean anything anymore," Said Head Coach Ronda Engelhardt. “If we go 100 percent throughout the game, we are capable of great  things and I think we showed that last week”.

         Minnesota has been looked at as the underdog throughout the playoffs and will be once again heading into the final game, but the Whitecaps are embracing it.

“We believe in the group, and it is a new kind of game in the playoffs. We play a hungry, physical style and it paid off,"  said Brodt. 

“Anytime you can come in as an underdog and use that to your advantage, go in with a chip on your shoulder, I think that’s a lot of fun. It adds fuel to the fire and now it’s one game up for grabs for anyone to get, and we're excited," said Schepers.          

One team stands in the way between the Whitecaps making PHF history and completing the Cinderella story. The Six may have had the Whitecaps' number this regular season, but as Brodt said, “The playoffs are a different game”. 

 

Isobel Cup breakdown:

QUICK HITS

Expansion: The eighth Isobel Cup Championship is the first that features two expansion teams with Minnesota who joined the league in 2018-19 and Toronto in 2020-21. Every other matchup included at least one of the 2015-16 Founding Four franchises.

Firsts: Toronto's appearance marks the first time in PHF history where a Canadian team is competing for the Isobel Cup, while Minnesota makes their fourth final in five years. T6 has seven players who have been part of the organization since day one including captain Shiann Darkangelo, alternates Breanne Wilson-Bennett, Emma Woods and Taylor Woods, forward Brooke Boquist, defender Lindsay Eastwood, and goaltender Elaine Chuli. Forward Jonna Albers, defender Emma Stauber, and goaltender Amanda Leveille have played in all five of the Whitecaps PHF seasons.

Multi Wins: No matter the outcome there will be a back-to-back champion with either Toronto's Tereza Vanišová or Minnesota'sAmanda Boulier who were both members of the 2022 Pride. Vanišová could become the first player ever to win three-straight, while Boulier is making a record fifth-straight appearance in the finals. She's also won twice along with teammate Amanda Leveille which means somebody is in line to tie Boston captain Jillian Dempsey for the PHF record of three Isobel Cups. Leveille and T6 captain Shiann Darkangelo were teammates on the 2017 champion Beauts. Jonna Albers and Emma Stauber were members of the 2019 winning Whitecaps.

Most Points: Jonna Albers is tied for second in all-time playoff scoring with 14 points in nine career postseason games along with Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight who both recorded 14 points in six games for Boston. Pride captain Jillian Dempsey holds the all-time record with 15 points in 16 playoff games.

Top Tendies: The 2023 Isobel Cup Championship features the last two netminders to be recognized as PHF Goaltender of the Year with Elaine Chuli winning in 2022 and Amanda Leveille in 2021 (and 2018). Both are finalists for the 2023 award.

Women in Leadership: Toronto's Geraldine Heaney and Minnesota's Ronda Engelhardt are making history behind the bench in the first Isobel Cup Championship that features two female head coaches.

Competition: Four of the last five single-game Isobel Cup Championships have been decided by one goal, with last year's two-goal spread produced by an empty-net marker. The very first final in 2016 was a two-game sweep with one game decided in overtime and the other a two-goal decision.

MVP: Three of the first six Isobel Cup Most Valuable Players have been forwards, two have been goaltenders, and just one has been a defender.

NHL Ice: This is the first time the Isobel Cup Championship will be played on official NHL ice at Mullett Arena, home of the Arizona Coyotes, and the second straight season for a neutral site NHL host outside of traditional PHF markets following the 2022 playoffs in Florida in partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Broadcast: This is the second-straight season the Isobel Cup Championship will have a North America wide television audience on ESPN2 and TSN.

PRE-GAME QUOTES

Coaches:

"Taking down Boston in two games straight was quite an accomplishment for them (Minnesota)...They're fast and they don't give up and are the type of team that will do the little things and are a little bit similar to us, I just think that if we stay out of the box and can play five-on-five I think we'll have a lot of success...We've always focused on worrying about our team and we can only control what we do on the ice. We really focus a lot on d-zone and talk about defense winning championships because we definitely have the offensive power to score goals. If we can take care of our own end first we can be successful...This will be something they'll never forget, we've talked about enjoying the journey from the beginning of the year and it's been one hell of a journey and we're just one game from achieving our goals." – Toronto's Geraldine Heaney.

"I'm excited to be a part of it, but ultimately it's about the team and the team success. My goal is to get them ready to compete. I think with the season we had, the ups and downs, it showed a lot of resilience out of these players and a lot of character, so I'm excited for the opportunity and hope that we can win it all...I do think there is one more level that they (Whitecaps) are going to find and I'm excited to see it and I think it's going to be a great game...The performance against Boston we saw throughout the season but it just wasn't consistent. The big thing was just trying to stay consistent, stay mentally strong, mentally engaged the entire game. We had to play disciplined and do the little things we talked about all year long. We needed the players to commit to that and they did. They've exceeded everything we've asked of them so it's building off that and knowing that we can do it and I hope that gives them confidence." – Minnesota's Ronda Engelhardt.

Captains:

"It's super exciting and awesome to have this opportunity. We've been a part of the program since it started here so super honored that we're in this position to be able to go to the Isobel Cup finals in Arizona. I'm really excited for this group and excited to see what we can do...It's a one game thing and it's going to be whoever is ready and acclimated when we get to Arizona. Hopefully we can take our momentum from this series into that game and I'm confident in what we can do...I learned that this a resilient group that's not going to give up. It was weirdly good that we took that hit in the first game (against Connecticut), it showed that we have to bounce back and we were able to have each other's backs to do that which was pretty exciting." – Toronto's Shiann Darkangelo.

"For one game, it's what I'm used to and I think what most of us are used to from college or from other pro leagues. I think we're just going to stay focused and come together as a group and just be ready to play a full 60 minutes and if we need any more, we'll play that too...We're a focused group and we're hungry and we have a lot of experience on our team. We've played in big games with Isobel Cup champions, we have Olympic champions, national champions, and we'll lean on that...It's cool to be growing the game in a non-traditional market in Arizona. I know they have a cool youth program called the Kachinas that's getting bigger and bigger with some women's hockey players helping with that and it's going to be a cool experience." – Minnesota's Sydney Brodt.

Top Scorers:

"It's definitely going to be won on the defensive side of the game, (Elaine) Chuli is obviously a backbone on our roster, and focusing on the details. Backchecking, lifting sticks, blocking shots, the details will be huge in this and then offensively capitalizing on any opportunities that we have...It's been a great season with the chemistry in this group which management and the coaching staff has created has been awesome and I think that's led to some of our success on the ice this season." – Toronto's Brittany Howard.

"I think it's helpful and we can learn a lot from the games that we played against them (Toronto), but I think we're a new team and we showed that against Boston...I think that we've proven from when we played in Boston that we're a playoff team and that we're ready for the challenge...We were really determined and knew that we could beat them (Boston) if we came and we brought our game and that's exactly what we did. It comes down to the players and making sure that we're determined and focused and ready to play those games. We just beat the number one team and feel like we can beat anybody if we bring our game and are determined to do that." – Minnesota's Jonna Albers.

Goaltenders:

"Obviously the last two years we came up pretty short in the semifinals both times against Boston and it's something I've always had in the back of my head so it's nice to get through that round and have a chance to play for the championship...I'm focused on myself and what I need to do to help the Toronto Six win on Sunday." – Toronto's Elaine Chuli.

"We played extremely well against Boston, we really suffocated their offense and we know that we'll have to continue that against Toronto because they have a lot of talented players on the offensive side along with their goaltender Elaine Chuli who is awesome as well...We've been preparing for this moment the entire season, we had a lot of ups and downs, but we're rolling at the right time and we're excited for the opportunity to compete with each other and we know that it's going to take a full team effort and we've definitely demonstrated that when we play as a team we can have success and we're going to continue that when the puck drops." – Minnesota's Amanda Leveille.

ROAD TO THE FINAL

Toronto (2) beat Connecticut (3) 2-1 in semifinal series:

Mar. 17: CTW 5 TOR 3
Mar. 18: TOR 3 CTW 2 OT
Mar. 20: CTW 0 TOR 3

Minnesota (4) beat Boston (1) 2-0 in semifinal series:

Mar. 16: MIN 5 BOS 2
Mar. 18: BOS 1 MIN 4

TALE OF THE TAPE

TOR vs MIN (2022-23 Regular Season Rank)
Records: 17-5-2 (2) vs 10-11-3 (4)
Goals For: 87 (2) vs 58 (5)
Goals Against: 62 (6) vs 66 (T4)
Goal Differential: +25 (2) vs -8 (4)
Shots For: 750 (6) vs 751 (5)
Shots Against: 731 (5) vs 775 (4)
Shot Differential: +29 (3) vs -24 (5)
Penalty Minutes: 206 (T3) vs 157 (7)
Power Play: 13/79 .165 (3) vs 14/71 .197 (2)
Penalty Kill: 79/94 .840 (4) vs 55/66 .833 (6)

TOR vs MIN (2022-23 Playoff Rank)
Records: 2-1-0 vs 2-0-0
Goals For: 9 (T1) vs 9 (T1)
Goals Against: 7 (3) vs 3 (4)
Goal Differential: +2 (2) vs +6 (1)
Shots For: 78 (3) vs 77 (4)
Shots Against: 89 (1) vs 80 (2)
Shot Differential: -11 (4) vs -3 (3)
Penalty Minutes: 20 (1) vs 12 (3)
Power Play: 1/6 .167 (T3) vs 1/4 .250 (2)
Penalty Kill: 6/9 .667 (4) vs 5/6 .833 (T1)

SCORING SCENARIOS

Toronto Regular Season (Playoffs):
Record when scoring first: 13-1-0 (1-0-0)
Record when giving up first goal: 4-4-2 (1-1-0)
Record when leading after first period: 10-1-0 (1-0-0)
Record when trailing after first period: 1-1-1 (1-1-0)
Record when tied after first period: 6-3-1 (0-0-0)
Record when leading after second period: 12-0-0 (1-0-0)
Record when trailing after second period: 2-4-1 (0-1-0)
Record when tied after second period: 3-1-1 (1-0-0)
Record in overtime: 1-1 (1-0)
Record in shootout: 1-1 (0-0)
Record when outshooting opponent: 10-3-0 (1-0-0)
Record when outshot by opponent: 5-1-2 (1-1-0)
Goals scored by period: 32-30-24-1 (2-3-3-1)
Goals allowed by period: 17-30-15-1 (3-2-2-0)
Shots by period: 235-260-244-10 (22-29-23-4)
Shots allowed by period: 239-243-241-7 (36-26-27-0)

Minnesota Regular Season (Playoffs):
Record when scoring first: 4-1-2 (1-0-0)
Record when giving up first goal: 6-10-1 (1-0-0)
Record when leading after first period: 3-0-2 (1-0-0)
Record when trailing after first period: 1-6-1 (0-0-0)
Record when tied after first period: 6-5-0 (1-0-0)
Record when leading after second period: 6-0-1 (1-0-0)
Record when trailing after second period: 1-10-1 (0-0-0)
Record when tied after second period: 3-1-1 (1-0-0)
Record in overtime: 0-2 (0-0)
Record in shootout: 0-1 (0-0)
Record when outshooting opponent: 6-4-0 (1-0-0)
Record when outshot by opponent: 4-7-2 (1-0-0)
Goals scored by period: 15-21-22-0 (4-2-3-0)
Goals allowed by period: 18-24-22-2 (3-0-0-0)
Shots by period: 246-267-233-4 (28-20-19-0)
Shots allowed by period: 264-264-229-7 (29-27-24-0)

TOP FORWARDS

Toronto (Regular Season):
Brittany Howard – 26PTS (16G 10A) 20GP
Shiann Darkangelo – 25PTS (12G 13A) 24GP
Emma Woods – 23PTS (10G 13A) 24GP

Toronto (Playoffs):
Michela Cava – 4PTS (3G 1A) 3GP
Brittany Howard – 4PTS (2G 2A) 3GP
Emma Woods – 2PTS (2G 0A) 3GP

Minnesota (Regular Season):
Natalie Snodgrass – 20PTS (10G 10A) 22GP
Jonna Albers – 20PTS (10G 10A) 24GP
Liz Schepers – 14PTS (6G 8A) 22GP

Minnesota (Playoffs):
Jonna Albers – 5PTS (4G 1A) 2GP
Denisa Křížová – 2PTS (0G 2A) 2GP
Liz Schepers – 2PTS (0G 2A) 2GP

TOP DEFENDERS

Toronto (Regular Season):
Kati Tabin – 18PTS (4G 14A) 24GP
Lindsay Eastwood – 8PTS (0G 8A) 24GP

Toronto (Playoffs):
Kati Tabin – 4PTS (1G 3A) 3GP
Lindsay Eastwood – 2PTS (0G 2A) 3GP

Minnesota (Regular Season):
Sidney Morin – 17PTS (7G 10A) 24GP
Patti Marshall – 12PTS (2G 10A) 24GP

Minnesota (Playoffs):
Sidney Morin – 2PTS (1G 1A) 2GP
Patti Marshall – 2PTS (0G 2A) 2GP

TOP GOALIES

Toronto (Regular Season):
Elaine Chuli, 12-5-2, 2SO, 2.61 GAA, .917 SV%

Toronto (Playoffs):
Elaine Chuli, 2-1-0, 1.98 GAA, .932 SV%

Minnesota (Regular Season):
Amanda Leveille, 9-6-2, 2.43 GAA, .923 SV%

Minnesota (Playoffs):
Amanda Leveille, 2-0-0, 1.50 GAA, .963 SV%

SEASON SERIES

Toronto won 4-0 earning 11 out of 12 points.

Nov. 5: MIN 2 TOR 3 OT
Nov. 6: MIN 2 TOR 3
Feb. 25: TOR 1 MIN 0
Feb. 26: TOR 7 MIN 1

Toronto also leads 9-1 in all-time regular season matchups.

ALL-TIME PLAYOFF HISTORY

Toronto:

2022-23: Defeated CTW 2-1 in Semifinal series, finalists vs MIN.

2021-22: Lost to BOS 5-1 in Semifinals.

2020-21: Lost to BOS 6-2 in Semifinals.

Minnesota:

2022-23: Defeated BOS 2-0 in Semifinal series, finalists vs TOR.

2021-22: Defeated MET 4-1 in Preliminary, Lost to CTW 4-2 in Semifinals.

2020-21: Defeated CTW 7-0 in Semifinals, Lost to BOS 4-3 in Final.

2019-20: Defeated MET 1-0 in Semifinals, Canceled Final vs BOS.

2018-19: Defeated MET 5-1 in Semifinals, Defeated BUF 2-1 OT to win Isobel Cup.

PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE

Toronto:

All-Time Playoff Experience on Roster: 20 players - 86 games / 39 points / 2 wins

Shiann Darkangelo (10/6), Tereza Vanišová (8/6) Breanne Wilson-Bennett (5/5), Elaine Chuli (5/2), Lindsay Eastwood (5/2), Emma Woods (5/2), Brooke Boquist (5/1), Emma Greco (5/1), Taylor Woods (5/1), Taylor Davison (4/0), Saroya Tinker (4/0), Michela Cava (3/4), Brittany Howard (3/4), Kati Tabin (3/4), Dominika Lásková (3/1), Leah Lum (3/1), Daryl Watts (3/1), Courtney Gardiner (3/0), Lexi Templeman (3/0), Carly Jackson (1/0).

Eight players made PHF playoff debuts in 2023.

Minnesota:

All-Time Playoff Experience on Roster: 20 players - 88 games / 42 points / 9 wins

Amanda Leveille (12/9), Amanda Boulier (11/5), Jonna Albers (9/14), Emma Stauber (8/0), Stephanie Anderson (7/1), Sydney Baldwin (6/4), Patti Marshall (4/4), Ashleigh Brykaliuk (4/1), Maddie Rowe (4/1), Denisa Křížová (3/2), Sidney Morin (2/2), Liz Schepers (2/2), Sydney Brodt (2/1), Brittyn Fleming (2/1), Olivia Knowles (2/1), Ronja Mogren (2/1), Natalie Snodgrass (2/1), Taylor Wente (2/1), Anna Klein (2/0), Brooke Madsen (2/0).

10 players made PHF playoff debuts in 2023.

TEAM TITLES

Toronto: 0
3 total cup wins on roster

Tereza Vanišová (2022, 2021), Shiann Darkangelo (2017).

Minnesota: 2019
6 total cup wins on roster

Amanda Boulier (2022, 2019), Amanda Leveille (2019, 2017), Jonna Albers (2019), Emma Stauber (2019).

ISOBEL CUP HISTORY

2022: Boston defeated Connecticut 4-2

2021: Boston defeated Minnesota 4-3

2020: Boston vs Minnesota canceled due to the pandemic

2019: Minnesota defeated Buffalo 2-1 OT

2018 Metropolitan defeated Buffalo 1-0

2017: Buffalo defeated Boston 3-2

2016: Boston defeated Buffalo 4-3 OT and 3-1 (2-0 series)

ISOBEL CUP MVP

2022: Taylor Wenczkowski (BOS) F

2021: Jillian Dempsey (BOS) F

2020: N/A

2019: Lee Stecklein (MIN) D

2018: Katie Fitzgerald (MET) G

2017: Brianne McLaughlin (BUF) G

2016: Brianna Decker (BOS) F

For more information about the 2023 Isobel Cup Playoffs visit premierhockeyfederation.com/playoffs.

About the Isobel Cup
The Isobel Cup takes its name from Lord Frederick Arthur Stanley's daughter, Isobel, who shared his love of the game and is known to be one of the first female hockey players in Canada. Isobel, along with her brothers, encouraged her father to purchase a silver cup to award to the best amateur hockey team in Canada. The Stanley Cup, as it was later named, became the championship trophy of the National Hockey League. The front of the Isobel Cup reads: "The Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Cup 1875-1963. This Cup shall be awarded annually to the greatest professional women's hockey team in North America. All who pursue this Cup, pursue a dream; a dream born with Isobel, that shall never die. EST. 2016." 

About the Premier Hockey Federation
The PHF is the home of professional women's hockey in North America. Established in 2015 as the National Women's Hockey League, the NWHL rebranded to become the PHF in 2021 and provide opportunities for elite athletes to earn a living playing the game they love while fueling the continued growth of the sport. The league is made up of the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, Montreal Force, and the Toronto Six who all compete annually for the Isobel Cup. As part of a two-year agreement with ESPN, live coverage of the 2022-23 and 2023-24 PHF seasons is available exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States, and provides international rights for games which includes TSN in Canada. For more information visitpremierhockeyfederation.com.

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