PHF Playoff Preview: Isobel Cup Final
Previewing the 2023 Isobel Cup Final between the Premier Hockey Federation's Minnesota Whitecaps & Toronto Six.
It's the last game of the season as the title game is played at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota on Sunday.
Watch: Televised live on ESPNU
The WCHA will be home to the 19th National Champion as two conference-mates face off to be named best in the country on Sunday afternoon.
The top seed in the tournament, Ohio State are the defending national champions. They took down Quinnipiac in the quarterfinals and Northeastern in the semifinals and now get the chance to defend their title.
Wisconsin was the six seed and defeated LIU in the regional semifinal, before upsetting Colgate in the quarterfinals to advance to the Frozen Four. They took down rival Minnesota in Friday's semifinal with an overtime goal from freshman KK Harvey. Now they face another team they're very familiar with, though one they've been less successful against in recent years.
The Buckeyes were 3-1 against the Badgers this season and have won six of their last seven meetings. However, Wisconsin won the only meeting between the two in a Frozen Four, defeating OSU 3-2 in overtime in the 2021 semifinal. The Badgers won their sixth national championship that season.
Ohio State will have the advantage of playing in the earlier game on Friday. They also dominated their game while Wisconsin played most of an additional overtime period in a back-and-forth game. The Buckeyes are much more well-rested and in a game that's going to be as up and down the ice - if not more - than their semifinal with Minnesota, that's going to be a problem for the Badgers.
The Badgers have picked up the pace and played more aggressively over the final weeks of the season. They are getting pucks to net to try and create extra opportunities and while OSU goalie Amanda Thiele has been better about rebound control of late, they could be hoping to break through that way.
No one would mistake Wisconsin for an underdog with their international-level talent and national titles, but they have struggled at times this season, leading people to count them out and doubt they could pull it together enough to be in this position. So they have a little chip on their shoulder and a little bit of need to say "Hah, told ya!" to those who didn't believe they could be here on the final day.
There is nothing but confidence on the Buckeye bench. They dismantled Northeastern's attack on Friday and have had the best of the Badgers this season. They believe they are prepared, up to to the task and know exactly how to exploit the Badgers. They'll be looking to pepper Cami Kronish in net, play physical (particularly along the boards) and try to run Wisconsin ragged in the first frame or two.
If Wisconsin is going to win, they need another standout performance form their rookies. While a lot of teams loaded up on transfer players this year, the Badgers have focused on building up their youngest players. The result is a depth that makes them dangerous and more difficult to defend.
Both team need to stay out of the penalty box and not get too wrapped up in what or what is not being called.
Photo: Justin Berl/NCAA