The game was played at the sold out TRIA Rink in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and gave the NWHL its fourth champion in as many years as the league has existed.
“I can’t put this into words,” Stecklein said. “We are NWHL Isobel Cup Champions. It’s been a rollercoaster, and to have this ending is amazing. For all the players, coaches, trainers — everyone who’s put so much time and effort into this for so many years — it makes it all worth it.”
Buffalo got this far thanks to a 4-0 win over the Boston Pride last week.
The Whitecaps featured several U.S. National Team players, notably Kendall Coyne-Schofield, Hannah Brandt, and Stecklein.
Buffalo was without the services of star goalie Shannon Szabados, who was out with a lower-body injury, but Nicole Hensley filled in admirably. Amanda Leveille made 22 saves for the winners. She won the Isobel Cup two years ago playing for the Beauts.
“This has been a dream of mine and so many on this team to play in Minnesota, so to win this in our first NWHL season is pretty incredible,” Stecklein added. “I’m so thankful to the Brodt family for building this team and giving us the opportunity to win this Isobel Cup championship.”
The Beauts opened the scoring late in the first period on a power play when Emily Pfalzer’s long shot managed to squeeze through. A minute later, though, Coyne-Schofield set up Amy Menke for the tying goal, and that was all the scoring in the 60 minutes of regulation time.
Both goalies made great saves late in the third to force the overtime, particularly Hensley who kicked out her right toe to make a great save on a Minnesota power play.
“I can’t put this into words,” said Whitecaps captain Winny Brodt-Brown. “It’s been a rollercoaster and to have this ending is amazing. For all the players, coaches, trainers — everyone who’s put so much time and effort into this for so many years — it makes it all worth it.”
The Whitecaps’ story is an inspiring one. The team was founded in 2004 by Jack Brodt, father of Winny and Chelsey Brodt, one of the coaches this season. The team played in the Western Women’s Hockey League in Canada as part of the CWHL, and won the Clarkson Cup in 2010, but in 2011, the CWHL condensed and didn’t include the Whitecaps. The team continued to exist, though, and played various exhibition games, but last year it joined the NWHL, sold out all its games over the course of the 2018-19 season, and now finds itself Isobel Cup champions.
Previous Isobel Cup champions
2017-18 Metropolitan Riveters
2016-17 Buffalo Beauts
2015-16 Boston Pride