Ice hockey-Minnesota win inaugural PWHL title as fans celebrate new era for women’s game

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(Reuters) – Minnesota clinched the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) championship with a 3-0 win over Boston in Game 5 on Wednesday, as fans celebrated a new chapter for the women’s game.

Forward Liz Schepers slipped the game winner past Boston goaltender Aerin Frankel midway through the second period, with Michela Cava and captain Kendall Coyne Schofield adding goals in the third.

“I’m a little bit in shock. We had a great game, great energy all game,” Cava told a rink-side reporter. “Just worked as a team and (it) paid off.”

Boston netminder Frankel has been busy throughout the postseason and made 41 saves on Wednesday as Minnesota kept her on her toes.

Schepers had not scored a goal this season but got one when it mattered, tipping the puck into the net off a neat flick from Sydney Brodt to break the impasse.

Playing to a sold-out home crowd at Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts, the Boston team had no potency in their offense as they retook the ice for the final period and Cava threaded the puck through Frankel’s legs about eight minutes in.

Boston pulled their goalie with little more than three minutes left but Schofield pounced to score Minnesota’s third about a minute later, chasing after the puck and sending it into the empty net.

As time ticked down on the clock, both sets of fans stood to cheer and celebrate the first season of a league financed largely by Mark Walter, the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After stop-start attempts to get women’s professional hockey off the ground in North America, the PWHL hopes to have the same kind of success as the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)

“It’s been an amazing journey so far,” said Cava. “It’s been great to have all these people watching us play. The fans have been incredible – so we owe it all to you guys.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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