2023 PWHL Training Camp Preview: Minnesota
- 5 min read

2023 PWHL Training Camp Preview: Minnesota

2023 PWHL Training Camp Preview: Minnesota by James Domizio

Ahead of training camp on November 15, Minnesota has only signed seven players — five forwards, one defender, and one goalie. With 22 unsigned players and 16 spots left, the ball (or puck) is now in GM Natalie Darwitz's court (or zone) to determine how to build the best roster possible based on who shines in training camp.

Expected Camp Roster

Coyne Schofield, Kendall F SIGNED PWHPA - Team adidas Initial signing 80k+
Pannek, Kelly F SIGNED PWHPA - Team Scotiabank Initial signing 80k+
Stecklein, Lee D SIGNED PWHPA - Team Harvey's Initial signing 80k+
Heise, Taylor F SIGNED NCAA - Minnesota Drafted 1-1, 80k+
Hensley, Nicole G SIGNED PWHPA - Team Sonnet Drafted 2-12, 80k+
Zumwinkle, Grace F SIGNED NCAA - Minnesota Drafted 3-13, 80k+
Tapani, Susanna F SIGNED Did not play Drafted 5-25
Boreen, Abigail F Undrafted NCAA - Minnesota
Brodt, Sydney F Draft pick PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps Drafted 15-85
Bryant, Brooke F Undrafted NCAA - Minnesota State
Butorac, Claire F Undrafted NCAA - Minnesota State
Cava, Michela F Draft pick PHF - Toronto Six Drafted 12-72
DeGeorge, Clair F Draft pick PWHPA - Team Harvey's Drafted 6-36
Fleming, Brittyn F Undrafted PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps
Křížová, Denisa F Draft pick PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps Drafted 8-48
Kunin, Sophia F Draft pick PWHPA - Team Harvey's Drafted 10-60
Schepers, Liz F Draft pick PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps Drafted 13-73
Skaja, Catie F Undrafted NCAA - Minnesota
Buchbinder, Natalie D Draft pick NCAA - Wisconsin Drafted 7-37
Cook, Abby D Undrafted SWHL A - Lugano
Flaherty, Maggie D Draft pick NCAA - Minnesota Duluth Drafted 4-24
Greco, Emma D Undrafted PHF - Toronto Six
Kremer, Dominique D Undrafted PHF - Buffalo Beauts
Marshall, Patti D Undrafted PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps
Morin, Sidney D Draft pick PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps Drafted 9-49
Nightengale, Nikki D Undrafted PWHPA - Team Sonnet
Bench, Lauren G Undrafted SDHL - MoDo
Leveille, Amanda G Draft pick PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps Drafted 11-61
Rooney, Maddie G Undrafted PWHPA - Team adidas

Team Staff

  • Head coach: Charlie Burggraf, former DIII men's and women's head coach of 14 years with Bethel University
  • Assistant coach: Jake Bobrowski, former DIII head coach with Hamline University and Elmira College, and former University of Minnesota assistant coach
  • Assistant coach: Mira Jalosuo, former Team Finland defender and St. Cloud State assistant coach
  • Skills coach: Johnny Seibel, who has previously worked as a camp instructor with the Minnesota Wild shooting coach Scott Bjugstad and now has his own hockey training company called Puck Dynasty
  • Goalie coach: Brennan Poderzay, former goaltending coach with the University of Minnesota men's team and the Minnesota Whitecaps in the PHF

What They Have

The PWHL's first ever first overall draft pick, Taylor Heise, begins her pro career as a key centerpiece of Minnesota's roster. The 2022 Patty Kazmaier Award winner will be joined by electric power forward Grace Zumwinkle, who co-captained the Minnesota Golden Gophers with Heise last year.

If Heise and/or Zumwinkle are placed on a line with Kendall Coyne Schofield, they'll instantly be one of the deadliest lines in women's hockey. While the two young Minnesotans bring immense speed to the ice, Coyne Schofield (an honorary Minnesotan) would provide the same skill and veteran presence that she brought to the NWHL, PWHPA, and the US women's national team – not to mention speed of her own.

In addition to Coyne Schofield, forward Kelly Pannek and defender Lee Stecklein have been signed since the initial free agency period. Since then, Natalie Darwitz has also locked up a #1 goaltender in Hensley and creative Finnish forward Susanna Tapani.

What They Should Be Looking For

As of today, Minnesota has finalized the fewest signings of any team. Their core is very strong, but they seem to be opting against the draft-focused team-building philosophy of Ottawa and Boston in favor of a more open-ended and camp-focused one.

This will give the team more options and more time to test line and pairing combinations, but it remains to be seen if teams with fuller rosters will have a chemistry advantage going into the season.

This looks to be a highly competitive camp for blueliners, with only one – Lee Stecklein – under contract so far, and eight players at that position competing for what will likely be only six more roster spots. The backup goaltender position is also open, with three strong options coming to camp. Finally, there are eleven unsigned forwards entering Minnesota's camp, and only seven or eight of them will emerge with contracts.

News & Notes

Minnesota's inaugural season jersey was also revealed on November 14:

And on November 13, TRIA Rink was announced as the PWHL Minnesota practice facility. It previously served as the home game rink of the PHF's Whitecaps and is also the practice facility for the NHL's Minnesota Wild.