PWHL Finals - Game 5: Minnesota 3, Boston 0 (Minnesota Wins Walter Cup)
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PWHL Finals - Game 5: Minnesota 3, Boston 0 (Minnesota Wins Walter Cup)

PWHL Finals - Game 5: Minnesota 3, Boston 0 (Minnesota Wins Walter Cup) by Melissa Burgess

PWHL Minnesota shut out Boston 3-0 on Wednesday night to capture the first-ever Walter Cup title. Liz Schepers scored the game-winning goal, while Michela Cava and Kendall Coyne Schofield also scored. Nicole Hensley had a 17-save shutout to seal the championship, which came just three days after Minnesota thought they'd won it on home ice on Sunday – before the OT game-winner was called back.

What happened?

After a scoreless but fast-paced first period, Minnesota really came out to play in the middle frame. They out-shot Boston 16-7 in that period, but it was Liz Schepers' goal at 6:14 that was the difference-maker. Schepers sent a centering pass to Sydney Brodt, who took it to the net. Brodt whiffed on her initial shot but managed to get Aerin Frankel out of position, then sent a pass through the crease behind the goalie that found Schepers' stick for the tap-in.

Minnesota continued to dominate, as Boston looked like they collectively ran out of gas. The eventual winners held Boston without a shot on goal for more 12 minutes to begin the third period and out-shot them 19-3 in the final frame when all was said and done.

Michela Cava provided an insurance marker when she scored off a wraparound attempt at 8:08 of the third, sending the puck in under Frankel's left pad. Kendall Coyne Schofield added an empty-netter at 17:54 to finish off the effort.

Both goaltenders were spectacular, as to expected. Aside from Hensley's 17-save shutout, Aerin Frankel truly was Boston's MVP throughout the playoffs, culminating in a 41-save effort in game five.

As the championship-winning team, Minnesota receives $63,250 to split among its players. The runner-up, Boston, receives $40,250. (These figures are per the PWHL CBA and will increase next season.)

A few quotes from the players:

"There's something very special about being the first to do something in life. For us to be the first Walter Cup champion is something that is extremely special, that will be a part of this league's legacy forever." – Kendall Coyne Schofield

"I think they robbed us in game four, and we all felt that, very very much so. To have the feeling of being a champion taken from you is one of the worst things ever. I can't say that's ever happened to me before." – Taylor Heise

"When you end on top, you never forget it. It's a feeling that you chase every day when you're in the weight room or on the ice. We've been chasing it all season. The legacy of this trophy is only going to keep growing and growing and growing. To be first, it's an honor, a privilege and it took an entire team effort to be champions, from start to finish." – Kendall Coyne Schofield

"She does everything and anything and somehow still has a child. Not really sure how she can do it all, but she does and she manages it quite well." – Taylor Heise on Kendall Coyne Schofield

Three up, three down

↑ What a time to get your first – Liz Schepers had three assists in 19 regular-season games and four in 10 playoff games. What a perfect time to get your first PWHL goal, as the championship-winning tally in the winner-takes-all game of the series. It was a great reward for Minnesota's depth to get this game-winner after the top line had dominated much of their scoring and conversation throughout the playoffs.

↓ A long review – Early in the second period, there was a lengthy review on a potential major penalty that eventually resulted in no penalty at all. Kaleigh Fratkin stepped up to hit Liz Schepers, who got sandwiched between Fratkin and Lexie Adzija. The play was reviewed for head contact, and it took about five minutes for a determination to be made.

↑ Viewers – Wednesday's YouTube stream broke 53,000 viewers, an absolutely outstanding number that becomes even more impressive when you take into consideration how much TV coverage the game also got. While so many were watching on YouTube, many more were able to tune in on TV channels including TSN, RDS, MSG, NESN and Bally Sports Wisconsin. And in Boston, a sold-out Tsongas Center provided an excellent atmosphere, both in person and for faraway viewers. The crowd of 6,309 was loud and with the game action every step of the way.

 (Not) Knight time – Boston captain Hilary Knight did not register a point in the playoffs. She finished the postseason with a minus-5 rating and 29 shots on goal in eight games. You need your best players to step up in the postseason, and Knight just couldn't find her groove for this one.

↑ A full-circle moment – Watching Kendall Coyne Schofield raise the Walter Cup marked a defining moment in women's hockey history and one that the sport has been working toward for the last five years. Quite literally, the PWHL would not exist without Coyne Schofield's leadership, so it was poetic to see her get the raise the Cup for the first time ever.

 Cava was robbed – While Taylor Heise was certainly deserving of the Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP award, I can't help but feel like Michela Cava was robbed of the title. Cava had eight points in 10 playoff games, including a goal and an assist in the championship-winning game. (As an aside, she has also won a championship in four straight seasons, in four different leagues! She was also playoff MVP in both the ZhHL and the PHF in 2022 and 2023, respectively. What an incredible run.)

VP's Player of the Game

Liz Schepers – I'm honestly not sure how Schepers missed getting named a star by the PWHL after this game! Her first goal of the season was the marker that won Minnesota the title. Schepers had four shots and was a plus-1 in 14:21 of ice time.

The game's named three stars were:

  1. Nicole Hensley
  2. Kendall Coyne Schofield
  3. Aerin Frankel

  • Game replay link (YouTube) – The PWHL has started posting "condensed game archive" video, after taking their videos private after broadcast as of late. Check their video uploads page for the game archive content as it becomes available. (This game is not yet as of press time.)
  • Game data

(Photo: PWHL)