PWHL: Minnesota boosts defense in draft

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Minnesota won the first Professional Women’s Hockey League championship relying on staunch team defense. Monday night at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul it used its first pick in the PWHL draft to add to that strength.

Former Princeton defender Claire Thompson, a standout two-way defender with international experience, joined Minnesota as the third-overall pick.

Minnesota used its second pick on Wisconsin forward Britta Curl, a native of Bismarck, N.D. St. Cloud State forward Klara Hymlarova, a Czechia native, was taken in the third round.

Forward Brook McQuigge, who played at Clarkson, was selected by Minnesota in the fourth round. Forward Dominique Petrie, who played at Clarkson, was taken in the fifth round. Mae Batherson, a defender from St. Lawrence, was Minnesota’s sixth-round pick.

Thompson, a 26-year-old Toronto native, was a reserve player for PWHL New York this season but did not see any action due to being a full-time medical school student. She originally had planned to focus on medical school in 2024 but had a change of heart.

“It was a really difficult decision,” Thompson said. “It’s been a long-time dream of mine to become a doctor, and my sights have been set on continuing to play hockey at this point in my life. It was a pretty clear decision (this year) when talking with my family that this was something I still wanted to be a part of.”

Thompson said she was an interested observer throughout the PWHL season and the playoffs, and will be coming to Minnesota with some valuable knowledge of her new professional home.

“I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many Minnesotans in my life,” Thompson said. “Two of my best friends from college are from Minnesota. One of my current roommates in medical school is a Minnesotan, as well.

“I’m excited to finally join the great ‘State of Hockey.’ I’ve heard so much about it. The fans in Minnesota have been so exciting this year. And I’m so excited to be a part of such a successful team. Coming off the most recent championship, I couldn’t think of a better place to begin my pro career.”

The 5-foot-8 Thompson played for Team Canada in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and won a gold medal. She set an Olympic record for points by a defender, with two goals and 13 assists.

The PWHL Hockey Operations scouting report had this to say about Thompson, who played at Princeton from 2016-20: “A generational offensive talent from the back end with the entire package of skating, puck skills, shot, game sense and size.”

Curl said she considers Minnesota to be her hometown PWHL, but made light of the fact that she will have to get used to being teammates with “Minnesotans” after her career with the Badgers.

“The hard part with Minnesota, obviously with the changes in the organization, I didn’t have a lot of contact with them,” Curl said. “But in the back of my mind it was one of the teams I would be picked by, so I’m super excited.”

Abby Boreen, who entered the draft after being a reserve player, was taken by Montreal in the third round. She was followed by another Minnesota, Patty Kazmaier Award winner Izzy Daniel was selected by Toronto to finish the third round.

Blaine’s Gabby Rosenthal, who played at Ohio State, was selected by New York in the fourth round. Maple Grove’s Mannon McMahon, who played at Minnesota Duluth, was selected by Ottawa in the fifth round.

Montreal selected Hudson native Anna Wilgren in the fifth round.

New York selected Princeton forward Sarah Fillier with the first overall pick. Danielle Serdachny, a physical and skilled forward from Colgate, was chosen second by Ottawa.

Ohio State forward Hannah Bilka was taken fourth by Boston, with her teammate, defender Cayla Barnes, going to Montreal at No. 5. Forward Julia Gosling of St. Lawrence was the final pick of the first round, going to Toronto.

Boston acquired the first pick of the second round from New York and selected defender Daniela Pejsova from Czechia.

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