Minnesota falls the second straight game to Toronto and looks to stay alive in the best-of-five series on Monday night

The State of Hockey showed up all season long for the Inaugural season of PWHL Minnesota, and the team repaid the fans with a playoff berth. Minnesota ended the regular season with a 12-12 record, which included four overtime wins and three overtime losses for a total of 35 points to finish tied for third in the league. They dropped their final five games of the regular season. Minnesota had a good strong start to their season, winning three of their first four games, but the team struggled to win consistently late in the year. Either way, the State of Hockey’s squad was able to get into the first-ever Walters Cup Playoffs. 

Minnesota got matched up with PWHL Toronto, who claimed the top seed in the league after finishing with a league-best 47 points. These two teams faced off four times during the regular season, with Toronto beating Minnesota the last three times they played. Minnesota won the first game between the two teams. 

Minnesota’s top scorer all season was Golden Valley, Mn. native Grace Zumwinkle. The 24-year-old graduated from the University of Minnesota and immediately signed with her hometown team, joining her Gopher teammate, Taylor Heise, who was drafted first overall in the league draft. Zumwinkle scored 11-8-19 in 24 games played. The team-leading goalie was Nicole Hensley, who started in 14 games, going 7-6-1, putting up a 0.919 save percentage, and one shutout. The other netminder is Andover, Mn. native Maddie Rooney. Rooney went 5-3-2 in her 10 starts. She put up a 2.08 GAA and a 0.915 save percentage in her Minnesota debut season. 

Maddie Rooney has provided solid goaltending along with fellow netminder Nicole Hensley. LPH PHOTO BY MIKE THILL

PWHL Toronto took down Minnesota in game one, winning their fourth straight against their neighbors to the south dating back to the regular season. Toronto got a late first period goal, to go up 1-0 after the opening frame. They added two more in the second and once in the third to shut out PWHL Minnesota in game one. 

Minnesota tried to get back even in the series on Friday night when they faced off in Toronto. Minnesota’s scoring struggles continued in game one, when they were unable to find the back of the net again, losing 2-0, and going down in the series 2-0. 

Although the scoring wasn’t there for Minnesota, the goaltending gave them every chance to get back into the game. Former Andover Huskie goalie Rooney was sharp in game two stopping 28 of 29 shots she faced, and kept the game scoreless for two periods. Toronto netted a late third period goal with just 1:30 remaining in the game, with Jesse Compher scoring the go ahead goal. Hannah Miller scored moments later with the empty net to go ahead 2-0 and secure the game two victory. 

PWHL Minnesota down 2-0 in the series, will look to take back a game and stay alive at home when Toronto visits on Monday. Puck drop is slated for 8:00 p.m. inside the Xcel Energy Center.