Life in the Lake Placid Bubble certainly hasn't been boring for the Minnesota Whitecaps, who have played a trio of one-goal games and emerged undefeated.
On Saturday, the National Women's Hockey League launched its truncated, two-week regular season and playoffs at Herb Brooks Arena – site of the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic triumph. The marquee matchup among the league's six teams on opening day was the game that couldn't be played last year because of the coronavirus pandemic: the Whitecaps vs. the Boston Pride in the Isobel Cup final.
Saturday's game wasn't for the Cup – that will be decided Feb. 5 — but bragging rights were on the line, and the Whitecaps, the 2019 NWHL champions, emerged with a 2-1 victory over a Pride team that had a 24-1 record in 2019-20. Scoring the winning goal was Winny Brodt Brown, the 42-year-old hockey veteran who's played for the Whitecaps since 2004. The goal was her first in the Whitecaps' two-plus seasons of NWHL play.
Making it all stand up was goalie Amanda Leveille, who made 36 saves and withstood six Boston power plays.
On Sunday, the Whitecaps recovered from a four-goal deficit to edge the expansion Toronto Six 6-5 in a shootout.
Down 3-0 after one period and 5-1 with 1:32 left in the second, the Whitecaps started their rally when Haylea Schmid scored at 18:59 and Haley Mack cut the lead to 5-3 with 12 seconds left in the period.
Third-period goals by Audra Richards and Meaghan Pezon sent the game to overtime, then a shootout. Mack beat Toronto goalie Samantha Ridgewell in the fifth round for the winner.
On Tuesday, the Whitecaps improved to 3-0 with a 1-0 win over the Metropolitan Riveters, with more late-game heroics. Mack scored the game's only goal with 10 seconds left in the third on a power play, and Leveille's 38 saves secured the shutout.
The reality of playing amid the pandemic hit Thursday when the Riveters withdrew from the tournament after several members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19. That prompted the NWHL to postpone Thursday's games – the Whitecaps were scheduled to play Connecticut – and resume play Saturday. Minnesota, which sits atop the NWHL standings with six points, faces Buffalo at 2 p.m. Saturday (live stream on twitch.tv/nwhl/). The virus, of course, will determine if things proceed as scheduled.