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Michelle Jay, NWHL

NWHL season preview: Five games to watch in Lake Placid bubble

The single-elimination Isobel Cup Semifinals will be shown live on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET and 8:30 p.m. ET. The winners of the semifinals will advance to the Isobel Cup Final on Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. ET. In addition to coverage on NBCSN, live coverage will stream exclusively on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The NWHL begins its bubble season in Lake Placid on Saturday, culminating on February 5 on NBCSN with the fifth Isobel Cup. Last season’s title game, slated between the Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps, wasn’t played after the league paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This season will last 13 days, with the Isobel Cup finalists playing nine games in 13 days. That’s a lot of hockey, especially for a league that’s traditionally played one or two games a week per team. There’s plenty to keep an eye on, but here are the five games we like.

Metropolitan Riveters vs. Toronto Six – Saturday, January 23

The first game in Toronto Six history happens to open the Lake Placid bubble where they face the Riveters. The first game of the season is worth watching for a lot of reasons, including our first glimpse of NWHL action since last March, but the first chance to see the Six makes it the biggest highlight.

Boston Pride vs. Minnesota Whitecaps – Saturday, January 23

The Isobel Cup that never was. The Pride and Whitecaps waste no time getting to the unfinished business from March 13, the day they were supposed to compete for the league championship. Both teams will tell you it doesn’t matter who they play, but if you don’t expect spice when these squads take the ice you’re not paying attention. A lot has changed; Minnesota won’t have Nicole Schammel and the Pride have eight new players. The spirit and the energy won’t change any time soon, though.

Connecticut Whale vs. Metropolitan Riveters – Sunday, January 24

The Riveters are reloaded and the Whale believe they’ve turned a corner. Both teams can tend to be overlooked, with the Whale as the only original five team to have never won a title and the Rivs facing struggles following their title in 2017. Both are looking to make noise in a league filled with Bostons and Torontos and Minnesotas. Also, who doesn’t love a geography-based rivalry?

(Photo by Michelle Jay)

Boston Pride vs. Toronto Six – Tuesday, January 26

The Pride and Six rivalry doesn’t even exist yet on the ice but their Twitter banter has sure set up the next chapter of the epic Boston and Toronto hockey saga. Toronto is an expansion club but expected to compete, and the Pride are the reigning regular season champs and will have you believe they would have raised Isobel if not for the pause.

That, and former Pride forward Emily Fluke has made her new home for the Six; just if Twitter wasn’t a good enough revenge factor.

Toronto Six vs. Buffalo Beauts – Thursday, January 28

Buffalo hasn’t had a team nearby since the NWHL began, and now the historically-Canadian heavy team has serious competition with Toronto nearby. It’s fair to assume these clubs will butt heads for years to come, so their first introduction should be a lot of fun.

MORE: Full 2021 NWHL schedule

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.