Minnesota makes Toronto regret picking them in the first round

The first overall pick in the PWHL Taylor Heise her first two career postseason goals Friday.

After being down 2-0 in the series and facing elimination twice, PWHL Minnesota overcame all odds winning three straight games and advancing to the first-ever PWHL Final series. Minnesota won game five, the final game of the series 4-1 against Toronto, in the Six on Friday night. 

The series has been one of little scoring and great goaltending, as the winner in all four games won in shutout fashion. 

Game one: Tor 4-0, game two: Tor 2-0, game three: Min 2-0, game four Min 1-0. 

Game five was held inside the Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto as Minnesota was the lower seed in the series. The first period was all Toronto, outshooting Minnesota 13-7, but the State of Hockey’s own Maddie Rooney, who’s been incredible in net, stopped all 13 shots. In the second period, Toronto’s Sarah Nurse was called for tripping at the 6:42 mark, giving Minnesota a power play. It was a power play Minnesota took advantage of when Denisa Krizova netted the game’s first goal for the State of Hockey. The goal was Krizova’s second of the playoffs, and assisting was Kelly Pannek and Sophie Jaques. Toronto found the answering goal moments later when Rebecca Leslie tied the game at 1-1 for Toronto with over 10 minutes left in the middle frame. 

The third period was all Minnesota, starting with another power play after Jocelyne Larocque took a hooking minor. Minnesota made them pay again with the extra skater, when the first overall pick of the PWHL Draft, and Red Wing, Minn., native Taylor Heise netted her first postseason goal. The go-ahead goal by Heise was her fifth goal of the season. Minnesota led Toronto 2-1 in the final game of the series with just over 10 minutes remaining. Minnesota held possession of the puck for the majority of the period, allowing just four shots on goal in the third frame, and getting 12 on net. Sophia Kunin netted her first goal of the postseason with the empty net at the 18:48 mark, and Heise found her second of the game with another empty net goal to seal the game and the series 4-1. Lee Stecklein, Kendal Coyne Schofield, and Jaques all had two assists in the game for Minnesota. Former Andover Huskie and UMD Bulldog Rooney kept her hot postseason streak alive, stopping 27 of 28 for Minnesota and moving her playoff record total to 3-1, and posting a .915 Sv%, 2.08 GAA, with two shutouts. 

Maddie Rooney has gone 3-0 in her last three postseason starts.

Minnesota is set to take on the Series B champions PWHL Boston. Boston made easy work of Montreal, sweeping them in three games. 

Game one: Bos 3-2, game two: Bos 2-1, game three: Bos 2-1.  

Boston has four Minnesota natives on their roster, two forwards and two defensemen; Gigi Marvin (Warroad, Minn.), Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.), Emily Brown (Blaine, Minn.), and Sidney Morin (Minnetonka, Minn.)

Boston and Minnesota both tied for third in the league standings with 35 points and records of 8-4-3-9. In their season series against each other, Boston led Minnesota, winning three of the five games they played. Boston last took down Minnesota on April 27 when they won 2-1. 

PWHL Minnesota will face Boston in the inaugural PWHL Finals. Game one of the five-game series will begin on Sunday, with a puck drop at approximately 5 p.m. Boston will have the home-ice advantage, with them being the higher seed, so the first two games will be held inside Tsongas Center. Minnesota will play their home games inside the Xcel Energy Center.