Having scored the first and final goals of the 2023 Isobel Cup championship game versus the Minnesota Whitecaps, a highly emotional 4-3 overtime final, it marked a treasured career highlight for Dominika Lásková and Tereza Vanišová. Although both in their first season with the Six, the season prior provided a highly cherished highlight in their parallel journey.
Playing together for Czechia at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, it marked an extension of a tremendous friendship. Having known each other since childhood, Vanišová, from Strakonice, while Lásková grew up in Prague, never spent a season together at the university or professional ranks.
With the 22-23 PHF season their first in the same jersey, both finished among the top 10 in team scoring for the Six, providing a solid consistency. Lásková, also named to Team World for the 2023 PHF All-Star Game, held in Toronto, found a tremendous appreciation in the opportunity to reach the revered pinnacle of a championship alongside Vanišová.
“Playing with Tereza this season was one of the best things about being in Toronto. T is my best friend since we were kids and unfortunately we never played the whole season on the same team. The fact that we got to do it here in Toronto and win the Cup together is something incredible.”
Having also won back-to-back Isobel Cups with the Boston Pride, the chance to win a third consecutive title placed Vanišová in a very celebrated standing among the PHF’s most decorated champions. Becoming the first player to achieve the feat, she joins Pride captain Jillian Dempsey as the only players to win three Cups in a career.
As a side note, one of Vanišová’s former teammates from the Pride also left her mark on Cup history this year. Skating for the Whitecaps, Amanda Boulier is the only player to have been an Isobel Cup finalist for a fifth straight season, winning in 2019 and 2022.
The first European player to score an overtime winning goal in the history of the Isobel Cup Finals, Vanišová put the exclamation point on a highly riveting comeback. Facing a 3-2 deficit early in the third period, alternate captain Taylor Woods tied the score, the latter half of the period remaining deadlocked at 3-3. At 4:19 of overtime, played in a 3-on-3 format, Vanišová scored unassisted, firing the puck high on the glove side of goaltender Amanda Leveille. Adding to the exhilaration of such a career defining goal was the fact that the Isobel Cup was contested on NHL ice, with Tempe, Arizona’s Mullett Arena serving as the host venue.
“It felt amazing of course, it was probably one of the biggest goals I have ever scored, so I will definitely remember it. I think we have had an awesome talented group of girls. I am so happy we won it because I truly believe it was well deserved.”
With the Minnesota Whitecaps roster also featuring a pair of European players, including Sweden’s Ronja Morgen, the final score stirred feelings of empathy. Wearing number 41 for the Whitecaps, Denisa Křížová also played for Czechia in Beijing.
Marking a highly unique moment in league history, as both rosters in the Isobel Cup finals featured players from Czechia, Lásková, understandably, experienced a tinge of sadness. Křížová, also a former player with the Boston Pride, appeared in her first ever Finals.
“Denisa is amazing player. We have known each other for many years. She played very well. As much as I was happy for myself, I also felt sad for her because I know how it must have felt. We saw each other on Tuesday and we just hugged each other and kept on with our friendship.”
Coincidentally, the two shall remain in the Greater Toronto Area following the aftermath of the Finals. Worth noting, the city of Brampton, located northwest of Toronto, shall serve as host city for the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championships. Competing in Group A competition this year, Czechia captured an historic bronze at last year’s event, marking their first podium finish.
With the impact of Vanišová’s epic goal, plus the strong seasons of Lásková and Křížová, there is certainly a strong feeling of momentum for a highly talented roster from Czechia. Considering that the Cup heroics of Vanišová also made news back home, her efforts resulting in being rewarded as Player of the Game, a sense of optimism that increased awareness of women’s ice hockey in Czechia would certainly stand as the goal’s greatest legacy.
“I hope so, I feel like the awareness of female hockey in Czech Republic is slowly rising, however I don’t think many people have really heard of the PHF league and female hockey is still not appearing in the media as much.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated “
Featured image by Nick Wosika