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Minnesota crowned first-ever Professional Women’s Hockey League champion after defeating Boston in inaugural Walter Cup

By Jacob Lev, CNN

(CNN) — The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) crowned its inaugural champion Wednesday when Minnesota defeated Boston 3-0 in the deciding Game 5 at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts, following a nail-biting tournament.

The Minnesota players stormed the ice as time expired knowing the inaugural Walter Cup was won and were presented with the Cup by tennis great Billie Jean King.

Minnesota took the lead in the second period and didn’t look back. The team added two more goals in the third period including one from forward Michela Cava, who said she was in “a little bit of shock” when asked how she felt winning the first-ever Walter Cup.

“We had a great game, great energy all around,” Cava said after the game. “Everyone really came together and we just worked as a team and it paid off. So, really proud of everyone.”

In a nerve wracking tug of war, the newly formed women’s hockey league saw its first championship series go back and forth between Boston and Minnesota.

Boston took Game 1 before Minnesota came storming back to push them to the brink of elimination following a Game 2 and 3 win.

In Sunday’s Game 4, Boston forced a decisive Game 5 following a 1-0 double overtime win at a sold-out Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. With 2:35 left in the second overtime, Minnesota forward Taylor Heise skated toward the net and fell, but still managed to get a pass off to Sophie Jaques who scored what looked like the game-winner.

As Minnesota players celebrated what they thought to be an inaugural championship in front of their home crowd, the goal was disallowed due to goalie interference. Boston would score a little more than a minute later.

After the game Wednesday, Heise was named the first-ever Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP after scoring five goals and eight points in 10 games in the postseason.

“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions, but I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else’s team,” Heise said. “We are all over the place but Minnesota is our home right now and that’s something we are going to bring this back to – we are the state of hockey and I think that proves it.”

The PWHL, which has now completed its first season, consists of six teams: New York, Boston, Minnesota, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.

Last week, the Sports Business Journal named the league as the 2024 Sports Breakthrough of the Year at the 17th annual Sports Business Awards in New York.

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