Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

NWHL

Brianne McLaughlin goes out on top with Isobel Cup win

Brianne McLaughlin in a home game during the 2015-16 season. -- BRIAN MITCHELL

In her final game as a professional hockey player, Brianne McLaughlin went out on top, as the Buffalo Beauts defeated the Boston Pride, 3-2, to win the team’s first Isobel Cup as NWHL champions.

McLaughlin was named the tournament’s most valuable player after making 58 saves in the final.

“It’s unbelievable,” McLaughlin said to NWHL.zone after the game.  “I couldn’t ask for anything more. You’re playing in your last game and it’s mixed feelings but you just have to go out and do your job and not think about anything else.”

The Elyria, Ohio native and former Robert Morris and U.S. National Team goaltender knew going into the Isobel Cup final against the Boston Pride that it would be her final game.

What followed was near perfection. The Pride fired 62 shots at McLaughlin, but were unable to find the back of the net enough to offset the 3-0 lead that the Beauts built on goals from Megan Bozek, Emily Janiga and Corinne Buie.

The Pride were the defending NWHL champions and had lost just once all season. It makes for a fantastic finish to the career of McLaughlin.

She started at Robert Morris with the program’s first class, and while she set NCAA records in goal, the Colonials were a last-place team on the ice. McLaughlin went on to win two silver medals with the U.S. Olympic Team, but as a backup to Jessie Vetter.

This championship will be all McLaughlin’s. After splitting time with rookie Amanda Leveille all season, McLaughlin earned the starting nod in the finale and ended up earning MVP honors.

McLaughlin announced before the NWHL All-Star Game in February that this would be her final season of professional hockey. At that time, even with Buffalo in last place, a championship was on her mind.

“Hopefully, I have an opportunity to play for the Isobel Cup like last year, but maybe with a different result,” McLaughlin said in February.

Ashley Vesci, Kelley Steadman, Brianne McLaughlin and the Isobel Cup. — BUFFALO BEAUTS

McLaughlin is joined on the Beauts by fellow Robert Morris alumnae Ashley Vesci and Morgan Beikirch and also by Colonials director of hockey operations Kelley Steadman. Vesci assisted on Janiga’s goal.

Beauts co-head coach Craig Muni is a former member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and will be come the first person to have their name on both the Stanley Cup and the Isobel Cup.

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