Brianne McLaughlin made 60 saves from 62 shots as the Buffalo Beauts overcame the odds to dethrone the Boston Pride and become the second winners of the Isobel Cup.
McLaughlin, rumoured to be playing in her final match, was unbelievable from puck drop to final buzzer, stopping almost everything that the Pride threw at her and keeping them at bay for over 55 minutes. She picked up the MVP award at the end of the game.
By that time, her team mates had done the business at the other end. Megan Bozek opened the scoring inside two minutes with a ripper from the blueline that left Brittany Ott puzzled and gave the Beauts the advantage.
The lead was doubled on the 13 minute mark, Emily Janiga putting away a rebound after Hayley Scamurra showed great patience in waiting for the right opportunity to shoot.
Buffalo would extend the lead further after 28 minutes, Corinne Buie switching to her backhand and beating Ott with ease. That would be Ott’s last involvement, as she was replaced by Lauren Slebodnick, who barely had to make a save in the 29 minutes she was on the ice.
It would take the Pride 55 minutes to finally break McLaughlin, Alex Carpenter the first to a rebound from a Brianna Decker point shot on the powerplay.
Then, with four seconds remaining, Hilary Knight was alone at the back post to tuck away another rebound, this time from Gigi Marvin, while Boston had the extra skater on with Slebodnick pulled.
The scoring doesn’t do this game justice. It was all Boston, from the time Bozek’s goal went in, up to the final buzzer. 62 shots on the Buffalo net, as opposed to the 14 the Beauts managed. This was Friday’s semi-final, but turned up to 11.
As Amanda Leveille was outstanding in defeating the New York Riveters, McLaughlin was that and then some. She stopped pucks she had no right to be stopping. The Pride had a whole host of high danger chances, and McLaughlin was more than up to the task.
Not to say it was all on the goalie. It was a superb team effort from the Beauts. They were blocking shots, chasing pucks, taking away lanes, the lot. The goals came at key times too – the first set the market, the second came on the back of a lot of Pride pressure, and the third the same. It was the perfect team performance.
At the final buzzer, the team rightly went straight to McLaughlin, and as the cup was raised, her family joined her on the ice. If that was her last game, what a way to go out.