SAINT PAUL, Minn. — A season with a rocky beginning that included a coaching change and eventually a seven-game winning streak came to a painful end on the ice of the TNIA Rink in Saint Paul, Minnesota for the Buffalo Beauts. Playing in their fourth championship game in as many seasons, they were forced to watch another Isobel Cup opportunity slip narrowly through their fingers as the Whitecaps Lee Stecklein's winner in extra time ended their hopes.
The game began with a small shakeup a it was announced that goaltender Shannon Szabados, who started Buffalo's semifinal win over the Boston Pride, would miss the contest with a lower-body injury. She was listed as day-to-day. Nicole Hensley got the start in net.
The Beauts opened the scoring in the first period as Emily Pfalzer's shot from the point wormed through a maze of bodies and eluded Minnesota goaltender Amanda Leveille to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.
The Whitecaps didn't waste much time before equalizing. Just 1:22 after Pfalzer's tally, Minnesota's Amy Menke took a cross-ice pass that slipped past Buffalo's Blake Bolden and broke in alone on Hensley before snapping a shot short side high over her glove to even the game at 1-1.
The score stayed static for the remainder of regulation, which included numerous big saves from both Hensley and Leveille. The Whitecaps outshot the Beauts 31 to 23 and the only shot in extra time came off a faceoff to Hensley's left that Katie McGovern won back to Lee Stecklein. She wristed a shot towards an unscreened Hensley, but mid-way to it's destination, the puck struck the stick of Buffalo forward Dani Cameranesi and dipped down through Hensley's still-closing pads. The game ended abruptly. The winning goal came just 49 seconds into the extra frame.
For the Whitecaps, who finished just aheaf of the Beauts for first overall in the NWHL regular season, the title came in just their first season of existence. Buffalo fell to 1-3 in Isobel Cup Finals. They've played in this game in all four years of the league's existence.