Denna Laing's No. 24 hung on the glass behind the Boston bench, and her Pride teammates used it as inspiration to win the National Women's Hockey League's inaugural Isobel Cup on Saturday. The Pride beat the Buffalo Beauts 3-1 in Game 2, sweeping the best-of-three series at the Prudential Center practice facility in Newark, New Jersey.
Isobel Cup MVP Brianna Decker scored twice and assisted on the Pride's third goal. Hilary Knight, who assisted on Decker's second goal, scored with 8:17 left for the Pride's final goal.
Laing suffered a severe spinal cord injury during a NWHL exhibition as part of the NHL's Winter Classic in late December.
"We just made history, that's the bottom line," Decker said in a postgame interview. "Our team worked our butts off today. We have 24 or 14 [Laing's other number] or whatever we want to symbolize it in our hearts, and that's what we played for this whole year."
Decker's first goal, assisted by Kacey Bellamy and Blake Bolden, came at 11:55 of the first period. Her second, at 9:25 of the third period, came on a Buffalo power play. With Boston short-handed, Knight had a breakaway but was stopped by Beauts goaltender Brianne Mclaughlin. Knight got her own rebound and found Decker in front for a short-handed goal and a 2-0 lead.
After a goal by Buffalo was disallowed because of a high stick, Knight found the net to put the game out of reach. Decker and Jordan Smelker got the assists on Knight's seventh goal of the playoffs. Goaltender Brittany Ott had 29 saves but lost the shutout on a Buffalo power-play goal by Erin Zach with 37 seconds left.
"This is an amazing experience, and we're so grateful this entire season to have the opportunity to even be here," Ott said. "We just got so much better as the season went along. We have an incredible group here and I'm proud to be on the Pride."
Boston (18-3-0) won 10 consecutive games to end the season, including sweeps in both playoff series. Knight gave the Pride the Game 1 win in the finals when she tied the game in the third period and added an overtime penalty-shot goal to beat Buffalo 4-3 on Friday night.