WESLEY CHAPEL — The Pride have shown their knack for scoring in bunches throughout the Isobel Cup playoffs.
Monday night’s final was no exception. In an 18-second span during the third period, Boston did it again, leading to a 4-2 victory over the Connecticut Whale.
The Pride are the first team in the Premier Hockey Federation’s history to win consecutive Cups. Since 2015, the franchise has won three championships.
“It’s hard to put into words,” said Pride coach Paul Mara, a former NHL defenseman who was a first-round draft choice of the Lightning in 1997 and played 101 games with Tampa Bay from 1998-2001.
“It’s a roller-coaster of emotions. I think, all day (Monday) and the leadership, the character in that room is second to none. And I just love this team, love what we brought this week.”
Boston played three games in four nights at the AdventHealth Center Ice complex, outscoring opponents 15-3 throughout the single-elimination tournament.
In every game, the team that opened scoring won. Monday night, Boston forward Jillian Dempsey cut through three Connecticut players before backhanding a shot past Whale goaltender Abbie Ives (26 saves) 4:14 into the first period. It was her second goal of the tournament.
The Pride carried momentum through most of the first.
But a turnover in the neutral zone with 3:15 remaining in the period gave Connecticut the chance it needed as forward Amanda Conway ripped off a shot from the right faceoff circle past Boston goaltender Katie Burt (32 saves) to tie at 1-all.
For the first time in the tournament, the Pride — who beat Buffalo 6-0 Friday and Toronto 5-1 Sunday — were tested and actually played from behind.
Forward Taylor Girard, gave top-seeded Connecticut the 2-1 lead 33 seconds into the second period.
The Pride put themselves in an even deeper rut when Dempsey was called for a five-minute major — the first of the playoffs — for cross-checking Whale forward Cailey Hutchinson, which resulted in a five-minute power-play.
Boston killed off the penalty, using that momentum to finish out the period cleanly.
Follow all the action on and off the ice
Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
The second intermission gave the Pride the rest they needed to jump out quickly against the Whale as Boston forward Evelina Raselli tapped in a rebound past Ives to knot the score at 2-all with 13:23 remaining in regulation.
Taylor Wenczkowski — who had three goals in three games and was named MVP of the tournament — netted the go-ahead score 18 seconds later. She also had the winning goal in last year’s final, a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Whitecaps.
“We played a good game today,” Whale coach Colton Orr said. “We gave ourselves an opportunity. Wasn’t meant to be, but we accomplished a lot this season.”
Pride defender Jenna Rheault’s empty-netter with 1:30 remaining Monday provided the final margin.
“I think our first 40 wasn’t our best hockey,” said Burt, whose .965 save percentage led all goalies in the playoffs. “…That’s just a hard team win. It’s awesome.”
Added Mara: “Just really proud of our team for battling the way they did and never quitting.”
Contact Mari Faiello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @faiello_mari.
• • •
The Tampa Bay Times has commemorated the Lightning’s second consecutive Stanley Cup title with a new hardcover coffee table book, Striking Twice. Order now.
Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.
Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.