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PWHL Finals Game One: Her-story Begins

Boston and Minnesota PWHL teams began the first-ever PWHL Finals in epic fashion

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished about a month ago 3 min read

The Professional Women's Hockey League is, without question, the best thing to happen in the great sport of hockey.

The first time I watched any form of women's hockey was in 2018, and it was during the Olympics. My reasons were simple: I didn't want to be disappointed in the U.S.'s efforts in hockey anymore. I knew that the women would dominate and kick some keister, and that's what happened. Our women's team brought the gold home in 2018, and in 2022, we captured the silver. The latter year was Jesse Compher's first foray into the Olympics, and it kicked off a big year for the Compher family. Just months later, Jesse's brother, J.T., won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

I remember there was a women's pro league known as the Premier Hockey Federation, but after the 2023 season, it folded to make way for the PWHL. The league debuted this year, and consists of six teams--three in the U.S. (New York, Boston, and Minnesota) and three in Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, and Montréal). For the standings, the league uses a 3-2-1-0 format: 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for an OT win, 1 point for an OT loss, and 0 points for a regulation loss. Some say the NHL should adopt this format.

Similar to the NHL's Original Six years, the top four teams qualify for the two round playoffs, though the #1 seed actually has the option of choosing who their Semifinals opponent. For this inaugural season, Toronto finished with the league's top record, and they opted to face Minnesota, leaving Montréal to face Boston. The Semifinals were played under a best-of-five format, and in one series, Boston swept Montréal to advance. As for Toronto, they won the first two games over Minnesota, only to lose the next three. Even in the PWHL, Canadian teams get snake bit.

So the first-ever PWHL Finals pitted Boston against Minnesota, with both teams pulling off playoff upsets. The team is captained by Hilary Knight, who finished with 11 points in the regular season (6 G/5 A). Alina Muller led the team with 16 points (5 G/11 A), and will Susanna Tapani had only 8 points this season, she scored a pair of goals in the Semifinals, including the overtime series clincher (shades of Artturi Lehkonen). The team is coached by Courtney Kessel, and yes, she's part of that famous hockey family. Her husband is hockey player Blake Kessel, whose siblings are Phil and Amanda Kessel.

The Minnesota team is captained by one of my favorite players, Kendall Coyne Schofield, who finished with 16 points (6 G/10 A), second behind Grace Zumwinkle's 19 points (11 of them being goals). The team is coached by Ken Klee, who played 15 seasons in the NHL, which included being part of the Washington Capitals' first run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1998.

Similar to the Semifinals, the Finals are played under a best-of-five format, and Boston had home ice because they finished 3rd in the league, while Minnesota finished 4th. The first goal in the history of the PWHL Finals was scored by Michaela Cava, an amazing shot that went past Aerin Frankel. The goal was scored just 4:38 into the first period, but two and a half minutes later, Susanna Tapani tied it up, and that was the score after the first 20 minutes. The second period is where a lot of the action took place; first off, Taylor Heise gave Minnesota their lead back at 8:04, only for Taylor Wenczkowski to tie it up four minutes later. Hannah Brandt would give Boston their first lead of the Finals, only for Heise to tie it back up. Seconds after that goal, Jess Healey made it 4-3 for Boston, and that score would hold up for the rest of the evening.

Boston drew first blood in the first-ever PWHL Finals, but the star of the game, in a losing effort, had to be Taylor Heise. Prior to puck drop, it was stated that Heise needed to have a big game, and she did just that. It was a three point performance for Heise--two goals and a helper, though Boston managed to eke out a hard-earned victory. Aerin Frankel had 30 saves for Boston, who is now two wins away from capturing the Walter Cup--named after the family who gave us this amazing and awesome league.

Game Two takes place on Tuesday in Boston.

hockey

About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

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Comments (2)

  • John Oliver Smithabout a month ago

    Super account of the playoffs in the PWHL. I look forward to reading more!!!

  • Philip Gipsonabout a month ago

    This article absolutely brightens my day. :)

Clyde E. DawkinsWritten by Clyde E. Dawkins

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