The NWHL season has drawn to a close, the playoffs are finished and the Isobel Cup has a new home. It’s time to not just briefly reflect on each team’s performance over 2018-19, but also on how the Whitecaps arrived in the NWHL.
Team: Minnesota Whitecaps
Regular Season Result: 12-4-0
MVP Nominee: Meeri Räisänen
Where Did The Whitecaps Come From:
Although 2018-19 was the Whitecaps’ inaugural season in the NHWL, the team is actually the most experienced in the league, as it was founded 11 years before the other four teams. The team was founded in 2004 in St. Paul, and play their home games at the TRIA Rink, the practice rink for the Minnesota Wild. The Whitecaps have been more successful that their NHL brothers, and in 2010 won the Clarkson Cup.
— Minnesota Whitecaps (@WhitecapsHockey) May 15, 2018
The Whitecaps were part of the Western Women’s Hockey League (WWHL) until the end of the 2010-11 season, when the league effectively ceased operations. There were earlier flirtations with a merger with the previous version of the NWHL (also called the NWHL, but not the current NWHL) but this fell through. When the WWHL and Canadians Women’s Hockey League announced a merger in 2011, it looked like the Whitecaps would join the CWHL, but this wasn’t to be as, not unlike the 4th Line Podcast’s fantasy hockey league, there were allegations of collusion.
With the closure of the WWHL, the Whitecaps became independent and homeless, playing exhibition games and college hockey teams. Prior to joining the NWHL proper in May 2018, the Whitecaps had already played the league’s teams in exhibition games, and some players were present at the NWHL all-star game,.
What Happened In The Regular Season:
Minnesota’s schedule was very heavy on the back-to-back games in the first half of the season, and the team opened the season with a six game winning streak. One of those games was the Metropolitan Riveters home opener at the Prudential Centre. Putting a slight 5-3 dampener on the Rivs’ Championship banner hoisting.
Started our 4th season by celebrating another 1st!
— Dani Rylan (@DaniRylan) October 7, 2018
Such success is hard to maintain, and when the Boston Pride came to the Twin Cities, the home team lost 12-3 over two games. Trips to Buffalo and Boston also cost the Whitecaps points, but the last five games of the season all ticked the ‘win’ column for Minnesota. Helped in no small part by four of those games being against the Connecticut Whale. Against whom the Whitecaps went 4-1, 2-0, 9-0 and 4-1.
Regular Season Stats:
What Happened In The Playoffs:
Being top seed meant that the Whitecaps had home ice advantage going into the semi-final against the Riveters. In the first period Amanda Boulier and Katie McGovern put the home team 2-0 up, while Hannah Brandt added a third and fourth goal in the second and third period. At 4-0 up, the Rivs’ Courtney Burke found a consolation goal for the visitors before Lauren Barnes took advantage of an empty net to finish off the reigning champions 5-1. Setting the stage for the Isobel Cup final against the Buffalo Beauts, and you can read all about that here!
— NWHL (@NWHL) March 18, 2019
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