By: Jackson Boline

There’s a buzz in the air this week and for good reason.

The PWHL dropped the puck on the league’s inaugural season, starting with one game each day since the New Year. Monday was the PWHL’s first game featuring New York and Toronto. Ella Shelton was the league’s first goal scorer, netting one for New York in their 4-0 win over Toronto. Tuesday featured two Canadian teams with Ottowa hosting Montreal at TD Place. The game was undecided through three periods, the league’s first overtime proved Montreal victorious, winning 3-2. The new rules and the officials putting the whistles away for more physical play made the games brilliantly entertaining, and the excitement for the league was showcased around the hockey world. 

The State of Hockey’s squad played its first-ever game Wednesday evening when PWHL Minnesota traveled east to face Boston inside the Tsongas Center. It took under four minutes for the first overall pick in the PWHL draft and Minnesota native Taylor Heise to net the team’s first-ever goal. Heise is from Lake City, MN, and played high school hockey for Red Wing, where she tallied 180-136-316 in six seasons. She played her college hockey for the University of Minnesota, finishing an incredible college career with 96-129-225 in five seasons with the Golden Gophers. 

The first overall pick in the PWHL Taylor Heise scored Minnesota’s first ever goal – January 3, 2024 | Credit: PWHL

It was another Minnesotan scoring for their home state when Wayzata, Minn., native Sophia Kunin put PWHL Minnesota up 2-0 after the first period. Nicole Hensley was a stone wall in net, stopping 11 shots in the first period. At the 7:59 mark of the second period,  Theresa Schafzahl got Boston’s first goal, but Minnesota answered shortly after, as former Breck star Grace Zumwinkle got the State of Hockey up 3-1. Megan Keller scored once more for Boston but it wasn’t enough, Minnesota made history with their first franchise win of 3-2 over Boston. 

The night’s three stars were Minnesota’s netminder Nicole Hensley, Minnesota’s forward Taylor Heise, and Boston’s forward Theresa Schafzahl. Hensley stopped 33 of 35 shots, and Heise scored the game’s first goal. Former Minnesota State Mankato forward Brittyn Fleming and defender Mellissa Channell both had assists for Minnesota. 

PWHL Minnesota will have their first home game on Saturday, January 6 at the Xcel Energy Center against Montreal. The current amount of tickets sold has the team on the verge of breaking the record for highest attendance at a women’s professional hockey game. Tickets are available Ticketmaster PWHL Minnesota vs. Montreal.