PHF Playoff Preview: Isobel Cup Final
Previewing the 2023 Isobel Cup Final between the Premier Hockey Federation's Minnesota Whitecaps & Toronto Six.
With all four Canadian teams on a break during the Four Nations Cup, the Worcester Blades travelled to China to face the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays in a three-game series. (The Markham Thunder have already played two of their three games in Shenzhen as well, but those will be covered in next week's recap in order to keep the series together!)
Leah Lum got things started quickly for Shenzhen on Tuesday with a goal just 1:15 into the game, and teammate Rachel Llanes closed out the period with a shorthanded tally.
Hannah Miller had the lone goal of the middle frame, at 6:14.
Madison Woo scored at 2:09 of the third, and Emma Woods added two more for a 6-0 final.
The Rays were 0-for-1 on the power play but perfect on three penalty kills, even gaining a shorty.
Kimberly Newell made 18 saves to earn the shut-out, while Mariah Fujimagari turned away 32 of 38 pucks for Worcester.
Meghan Grieves got the Blades on the board first on Friday, at 7:05 of the opening frame.
Hanna Bunton tied things up 10 seconds into the second, but it was the only goal of the period despite a 13-2 shooting advantage for Shenzhen.
Michelle Ng and Alex Carpenter scored less than two minutes apart in the third, pushing Worcester to replace goaltender Lauren Dahm with Fujimagari. Cayley Mercer then picked up a long pass for a breakaway and made it 4-1.
The Blades were perfect on two penalty kills, while Shenzhen wasn't called for any infractions.
Newell made 10 saves on 11 shots. Dahm turned away 29 of 32 chances through 48:59 and Fujimagari stopped six of seven in 11:01.
Erin Kickham opened Saturday's scoring with a power-play goal -- the Blades' first of the season -- at 6:12, but the game quickly became a one-sided affair. Carpenter and Mercer scored in the first period to head into the intermission with Shenzhen up 2-1.
Stephanie Anderson scored 58 seconds into the middle period, and Hanna Bunton made it 4-1 at 7:43, at which point the Blades replaced starting netminder Jessica Convery with Fujimagari. Miller made it 5-1 not three minutes later, and Anderson added her second to round out the period.
Wang Yuqing replaced Newell in net to start the third. Teammate Miller notched her second of the day just 1:19 in, followed by goals from Llanes and Wen Lu. Carpenter's second at 16:25 cemented the Rays' 10-1 win.
Shenzhen was 0-for-2 on the power play, while Worcester was a perfect 1-for-1.
Newell stopped 11 of 12 shots through the opening 40 minutes and Wang allowed no goals in the third -- the box score suggests she didn't even face a shot. Convery stopped 10 of 14 through 27:43 while Fujimagari turned away 18 of 24 in 32:17.
According to Shenzhen head coach Bob Deraney, a combined total of over 10,500 fans took in the series.
The Blades didn't get the scoring they were hoping for, but they did get their first goals from players not named Casey Stathopoulos. They next host Les Canadiennes de Montréal at the 12,000-seat DCU Center on Saturday, November 17 in a doubleheader with the ECHL's Worcester Railers.
(Photo credit: Visual China/CWHL)