NWHL did offer its share of good hockey
LAKE PLACID — In between the problems the aborted National Women’s Hockey League bubble season endured, there was some good hockey.
Six teams contended during spectator-less matchups on the same ice sheet made famous by the “Miracle on Ice” game, in which the United States men’s team upset the heavily favored Soviet Union during the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
After losing its opening two games, the Toronto Six — the NWHL’s only new team — rose to the top prior to the semifinal round. The Six locked down the top seed after winning its last four games to compile a 4-1-1 record. Toronto outscored its opponents 21-14 in six games played.
The Minnesota Whitecaps stood in second place prior to the semifinals with a 3-1 mark, the Boston Pride were third at 3-4, and the Buffalo Beauts finished fourth among the teams still in contention after posting a 1-4-1 record.
Mikyla Grant-Mentis, who hails from Brampton, Ontario, was a standout for the Six, leading the league in goals scored with 5 and tying for the top spot in scoring with 9 points. Two of her goals were game-winners.
Joining Grant-Mentis on top of the the league leaderboard was Kaleigh Fratkin of the Boston Pride, who recorded 9 assists in 7 games played.
After getting off to a slow start, the Pride caught fire on offense while burying 22 goals. Boston had four players among the top five and six in the top 10 in league scoring before the semifinal round.
Nina Rodgers paced Minnesota in scoring with 2 goals, 4 assists and 6 points.
NWHL rookie Autumn MacDougall has been a shining star for Buffalo with three goals, and Kristin Lewicki led the Beauts in scoring with 2 goals and 2 assists.
Another league rookie for Buffalo, Carly Jackson, has been by far the busiest of the eight goalies who have played in Lake Placid, recording 210 saves. Minnesota’s Amanda Leveille was next in saves with 147, and another first-year NWHL pro, Toronto’s Elaine Chuli, topped the goaltender standings with a 4-1 record entering the semifinal round.
Prior to the team’s early departure, Riveters’ netminder Sonjia Shelly had been nearly unbeatable between the pipes, giving up just one goal in 78 shots faced.