PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE PREGAME PRIMER: MINNESOTA AT BOSTON

First all-American matchup in PWHL history

LOWELL, MA (January 3, 2024) – Opening week of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season continues Wednesday night with an all-American tilt between Boston and Minnesota.

WHERE TO WATCH

Fans in the United States can tune-in live on NESN and the NESN 360 app, Bally Sports North Extra, and stream live on the league’s YouTube channel. Canadian viewers can watch live on TSN1 and TSN5, TSN.ca, and the TSN app, with David Korzeniowski calling play-by-play alongside analyst Bridgette Proulx.

TWO BIG FIRSTS IN BEANTOWN

The first NHL game in the United States was played in Boston (Bruins 2, Maroons 1 at Boston Arena, now Matthews Arena) on Dec. 1, 1924. Now, the first PWHL game in the United States will be played in Boston — Jan. 3, 2024, just over 30 miles away at Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

ONCE UPON A TIME AT TSONGAS

This isn’t the first big game at Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell for four members of PWHL Boston. Back on March 19, 2017, the venue hosted the PHF’s Isobel Cup Final where the underdog Buffalo Beauts upset the defending champion Boston Pride 3-2. Shiann Darkangelo hoisted the cup with Buffalo and holds bragging rights over her new Boston teammates Hilary Knight, Gigi Marvin, and Amanda Pelkey.

CAPTAIN(S) AMERICA

On January 2, Hilary Knight was named Boston’s first-ever captain, introduced by Boston Bruins legend and former captain Patrice Bergeron, and forward Jamie-Lee Rattray and defender Megan Keller were announced as alternates. After pregame skate on January 3, Minnesota GM Natalie Darwitz named Kendall Coyne Schofield as Minnesota’s first-ever captain, who then announced the team’s two alternate captains: defender Lee Stecklein and forward Kelly Pannek. Knight and Coyne Schofield have been long-time teammates for the U.S. National Women’s Team, with 7 Olympic medals and 21 IIHF Women’s World Championship medals combined between the two.

U-S-A, U-S-A! 

The PWHL’s first game on American ice, and the first all-American battle, sees a projected 30 players in tonight’s line-up, along with an additional 4 listed on reserve rosters. Minnesota leads the PWHL with 21 Americans and Boston has a total of 13. The game also has local flare, with fifteen players who have played at the collegiate and professional level in the Boston area. Hilary Knight and Gigi Marvin each had stints with both the Boston Blades of the CWHL and Boston Pride of the PHF. Kendall Coyne Schofield, Denisa Křížová, Alina Müller, and Aerin Frankel all played collegiate hockey at nearby Northeastern University. There are three Boston University alumni on rosters in Abby Cook, Sammy Davis, and Kaleigh Fratkin. Davis has spent the last eight years in Boston between Northeastern and the Boston Pride (PHF), while Fratkin has a trifecta of hockey connections with Boston—Northeastern, the Boston Blades and the Boston Pride. Cook also played professionally in 2021-22 with the Boston Pride. Additional former Boston Pride players include PWHL Boston’s Loren Gabel, Amanda Pelkey, and Taylor Wenczkowski. Megan Kellar (Boston College), Emma Buckles (Harvard University), and Dominique Kremer (Merrimack College) all return to Massachusetts after successful collegiate careers in the area.

PATTY KAZMAIER PEDIGREES

Tonight’s game will feature an impressive six of the last 10 Patty Kazmaier winners: Jamie Lee Rattray (2014), Kendall Coyne Schofield (2016), Loren Gabel (2019), Aerin Frankel (2021), Taylor Heise (2022) and Sophie Jaques (2023). Five players in tonight’s lineup have been top-3 finalists since 2014, Alina Müller (2023, 2020), Jaques (2022), Grace Zumwinkle (2021), Gabel (2018), Hannah Brandt (2014, 2015). Meanwhile, a total of ten players with a combined 16 top-10 nominations will lace them up in Zumwinkle (2023), Frankel (2022), Müller (2022, 2021, 2019), Theresa Schafzahl (2022), Sophie Shirley (2020), Megan Keller (2017), Coyne Schofield (2015, 2013), Brandt (2013), Hilary Knight (2012, 2011, 2009), and Gigi Marvin (2009, 2008).

WELCOME TO THE PROS

The league has a total of 33 players beginning their North American pro careers after graduating from collegiate programs in 2023. Wednesday’s tilt may include eleven debuts, highlighted by the first-ever PWHL first-overall pick Taylor Heise (University of Minnesota). Boston has a total of 5 players making their debuts, including Northeastern’s Alina Müller, Theresa Schafzahl of Vermont, Sophie Shirley of the University of Wisconsin, Ohio State standout Sophie Jaques, and Emma Söderberg from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Meanwhile, 6 players will start their pro careers on the road with PWHL Minnesota, including Heise’s University of Minnesota teammates Grace Zumwinkle, Minnesota State’s Brooke Bryant and Claire Butorac, along with University of Wisconsin alum Natalie Buchbinder and University of Minnesota-Duluth grad Maggie Flaherty.

QUICK HITS

Officials working tonight’s game include referees Kelly Cooke from nearby West Roxbury, MA, and Jordan Deckard from Chicago, IL. On the lines are TJ Dockery from Buffalo, NY, and Kirsten Welsh from Conway, PA…tonight’s ceremonial face-off was performed by Boston Bruins legend and former captain Patrice Bergeron, joined at center ice with sons Zach and Noah and daughter Victoria…the national anthem was performed by top billboard charted Indie recording artist and finalist from “The Voice”, Michelle Brooks Thompson.

LINEUPS

BOSTON:

Gabel | Müller | Knight
Schafzahl | Rattray | Shirley
Girard | Brandt | Darkangelo
Wenczkowski | Marvin | PelkeyKeller | Morin
Brown | Jaques
DiGirolamo | Fratkin
Healey

Frankel

Söderberg

 MINNESOTA:

Křížová  | Heise | Coyne Schofield
Tapani | Pannek | Zumwinkle
Fleming | Schepers | Kunin
Bryant | DeGeorge | Cava

Stecklein | Flaherty
Buchbinder | Channell
Cook | Greco
Kremer

Hensley
Rooney

 

Follow the league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus team accounts @pwhl_boston and @pwhl_minnesota for updates.

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