PWHL: MInnesota falls to Boston in Game 4, double OT heartbreaker

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Nearly 18 minutes into the second overtime Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota finally got what it so desperately wanted. An announced crowd of 13,104 finally got what it came for and was calling for throughout the night.

Or so they thought.

Minnesota defender Sophie Jaques scored from the slot to apparently give Minnesota a 1-0 victory over Boston and the first Professional Women’s Hockey League championship. With Minnesota players celebrating along the boards to the right of the Boston net, it soon became clear that the play was being reviewed for possible goaltender interference.

A few anxious minutes later, the goal was wiped out. Just over a minute later, Boston scored to pick up the 1-0 victory and keep its season alive, leaving “The State of Hockey” in a state of shock.

A deciding Game 5 of the best-of-five series will be played in Boston on Wednesday.

“That one hurt,” said Minnesota coach Ken Klee. “When the confetti’s going and the gloves are coming off — then you have to try to refocus real quick.”

The overturned goal was set up by a strong move to the net by Minnesota center Taylor Heise down left wing. As Heise leaned to her right to cut in front of the net, she lost her footing and went sliding into Boston goaltender Aerin Frankel.

Frankel was down on the ice when Jacques swooped in to bury the loose puck.

Klee said it was a call that could have gone either way.

“In real time it doesn’t look like (interference),” he said, “but when you slow it down and see the replay, she definitely loses an edge. It’s tough to tell if because of a Boston players’ stick or she just loses an edge.

“It’s just one of those things that happens. We had lots of chances to win the game. For us, we get to play another game. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it.”

Boston’s game-winner came on a high wrist shot from the slot by Alina Muller that beat Minnesota goaltender Nicole Hensley.

The home team’s celebration, while appropriate, proved to be premature. Time will tell if the sting of what came next will linger.

“It’s a high of a high to us having to balance the situation, pick up our sticks and get back to work,” said Minnesota captain Kendall Coyne Schofield. “It’s not easy to come back from by any means, but that’s what we had to do.”

Minnesota center Kelly Pannek was on the ice for the first shift after the goal was disallowed, and she said she didn’t notice any shift in momentum.

“It was just a hockey play that happens after two overtimes,” Pannek said. “I think we did a good job resetting. Sometimes the bounces don’t go your way, which wasn’t for us tonight.”

Boston played with the desperation needed from a team on the brink of elimination, but Minnesota matched that effort. Both teams had a number of good scoring chances throughout regulation and into the overtimes, with Hensley and her counterpart, Aerin Frankel, making a number of big saves.

“I don’t think it’s just tonight, I think it’s been that way all year,” Coyne Schofield said of the strong goaltending. “You look at our last series with Toronto and Boston’s series with Montreal, you’re not seeing a lot of high-scoring games. So you’ve got to expect that.

“You’ve got to be OK winning 1-0.”

Minnesota would have been OK with winning 1-0. And before the cruelest of twists, it thought it had done just that.


Minnesota general manager Natalie Darwitz was inducted into the International Hockey Federation Hall of Fame on Sunday in Prague, Czechia. Merlin Ravndalen, Darwitz’s coach at Eagan High School, attended the ceremony in her place.

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