The National Women’s Hockey League on Wednesday announced the format for the 2018 Isobel Cup Playoffs, with all three games being played at the site of the higher seeded team.
In a change from last season, when the Isobel Cup Final was held at the Paul E. Tsongas Center on the campus of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the 2018 Final will be hosted by the team with the better record. The format will still consist of a single elimination games for the semi-finals and finals as was the situation in 2017.
Semi-Finals to Take Place March 17 & 18 with Isobel Cup a Week Later
The semi-final round will take place on the weekend of March 17 and 18 with the Isobel Cup Final matchup the following weekend. The number one seeded team will take on the fourth seed in the opening round, with the second and third seeds facing off against each other, in the other semifinal showdown.
A Game 7 Winner Take All Atmosphere
Deputy Commissioner, Hayley Moore said, “There was no debate in the league office, we wanted to honor the deeply-dedicated fans in our markets by bringing all playoff games, including the Isobel Cup Final, to them. We have had a lot of success recently by taking the great athletes and role models of the NWHL on the road for events in Pittsburgh, Rochester, Minnesota and Tampa and we plan to do more. But for these playoffs, it was time for a true home-ice advantage. The Isobel Cup Final will be an electrifying game, essentially a Game Seven, before the fans of the highest-seeded team.”
Currently the Metropolitan Riveters, who have already secured enough points to guarantee a home game for the first round, sit in first place with their 10 wins on the season so far. The Buffalo Beauts hold the second seed at this moment with the Boston Pride and Connecticut Whale currently in third and fourth, respectively.
NWHL Playoff Game in Prudential Center or KeyBank Center?
If the Riveters can claim at least five more points in the standings, they would ensure home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Prior to the 2017-2018 NWHL season, the Riveters and New Jersey Devils entered into a partnership agreement, if they can keep rolling might there be a chance for the team and league, to see a playoff game, and/or the Isobel Cup Final being contested under the new jumbotron at the Prudential Center.
The second place Beauts and Buffalo Sabres also became partners during the current season, possibly giving them the opportunity for a postseason game at the KeyBank Center. The Beauts home rink, HarborCenter, practice home of the Sabres, is the only original NWHL rink to never host a playoff game.
The Riveters home, RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House, was the site of the inaugural Isobel Cup Final, in 2016, the Pride defeated the Beauts in a best of three series. During the inaugural season, the Riveters played their home games at Aviator Arena in Brooklyn, New York.