3M Arena at Mariucci welcomes two of the PWHL’s top three teams


MINNEAPOLIS, MN (February 27, 2024) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) schedule begins this week with a Tuesday night matchup between Minnesota and Toronto, at 8:00 p.m. ET at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Today’s game will be a Black History Month celebration.




Fans who watch PWHL Minnesota games on Bally Sports North can stream tonight’s game exclusively on the Bally Sports app on mobile and tablet devices (including iOS and Android), when authenticated using pay-TV credentials, and on Bally Sports+, the standalone streaming subscription service available from Bally Sports. The game will also be streamed for United States viewers on the league’s YouTube channel, and in Canada on CBC Gem. Clay Matvick has today’s play-by-play call alongside analyst Alexis Pearson.




Today will be a celebration of Black History Month at 3M Arena at Mariucci with a number of different activations throughout the game. Staff and players will be wearing PWHL Black History Month shirts designed by Black artist Dana Mclean. Videoboard features will include Black women’s hockey history facts and trivia, and Minnesota players Sophie Jaques and Nikki Nightengale speaking about who inspires them and why representation matters. Nightengale will lead the team’s ceremonial “Let’s Play Hockey” cheer pre-game, and Jaques will be interviewed in-game. Community partners for the game include Mosaic Hockey Collective – an organization that focuses on building an inclusive hockey community that empowers players of color with skills, resources, and positive experiences to grow and give back to the game, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Starwhals – an organization with the goal of getting more local girls skating, playing, and loving hockey. The team also welcomes special guest Anthony Walsh – a local author of the children’s book “Hockey is for Everybody.”




Tonight’s game features two of the league’s top three teams with Minnesota (5-2-2-4) holding second place in the standings with 21 points, and Toronto (5-2-0-5) in third place with 19 points. Three points by way of a regulation win for Minnesota would move them into a tie for first with Montréal, while a regulation win for Toronto would move them into second place ahead of Minnesota. This is the third meeting between the teams this season, with both games part of season-high streaks. Minnesota’s 3-1 win back on Jan. 10 extended their season opening streak to three games, and Toronto’s 4-1 win at home on Feb. 3 was the second in a current five-game undefeated stretch. Toronto is the league’s hottest team with five straight wins where they’ve collected 14 of a possible 15 points. The first four wins of their streak were regulation victories, with Friday’s 2-1 win over New York earned in a shootout. Four of Toronto’s wins were also on home ice, apart from a 5-3 win on Feb. 14 in Boston. They have won three of their five road games this season. Home ice hasn’t been so kind to Minnesota as of late, losing three of their last four at Xcel Energy Center after opening with consecutive wins. They were victorious on Valentine’s Day with a 2-1 victory over Ottawa but fell most recently to Boston 2-0 on Sunday. Minnesota has lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all season. Keep an eye on first and third period scoring. Minnesota’s offense has been most lethal in the opening frame with 10 goals, while that’s been Toronto’s lowest scoring period with just four. Conversely, Toronto’s offense has delivered 13 goals in the third period, while the final frame is Minnesota’s lowest offensively with just five goals. After tonight, the teams will play once more on May 1 in Toronto.




The first two games of this season series were won by the home team, with Minnesota victorious 3-1 at Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 10, and Toronto 4-1 on Feb. 3 at Mattamy Athletic Centre. In the first game, Taylor Heise paced the Minnesota offense with two goals and one assist, Denisa Křížová chipped in two helpers, and Kendall Coyne Schofield scored her first goal of the season. The captain also scored Minnesota’s lone goal in the rematch. Toronto also had a three-point performance from one of its stars in victory as Natalie Spooner scored twice with an assist. Captain Blayre Turnbull and alternate captain Renata Fast both scored their first goals of the season. Sarah Nurse scored her first of the season in Minnesota and added an assist in Toronto. Minnesota’s Nicole Hensley and Toronto’s Kristen Campbell started both games and are expected to be between-the-pipes again tonight. Head-to-head save percentages are .926 for Campbell and .917 for Hensley. Toronto outshot Minnesota both games by counts of 32-29 and 28-25.




Two of the league’s top three goal scorers will be in action tonight including Toronto’s Natalie Spooner who leads the way with 10 tallies and ranks third overall with 11 points. Minnesota counters with Grace Zumwinkle who has seven goals and leads her team with nine points. She also leads the league with three game-winning goals, including Feb. 17 in Ottawa, which is the last time she found the scoresheet. Spooner has been held without a point in two straight games but delivered a pair of shootout snipes in Toronto’s victory on Friday. Spooner (52) and Zumwinkle (48) lead the league in shots on goal. Kelly Pannek (1G 7A) is second in Minnesota scoring with eight points, and captain Kendall Coyne Schofield (4G 2A) is tied for third on the team with six points including five in her last seven games. Emma Maltais (2G 5A) has climbed into second in Toronto scoring with seven points, counting a goal in Friday’s win, and five points in her last four contests. Lee Stecklein (MIN) and Jocelyne Larocque (TOR) leads their respective blue lines with a goal and five assists each.




Minnesota has seven former Gophers on its roster in Lauren Bench (2020-22), Abby Boreen (2018-23), Taylor Heise (2018-23), Amanda Leveille (2012-16), Kelly Pannek (2014-17, 2018-19), Lee Stecklein (2012-13, 2014-17), and Grace Zumwinkle (2017-21, 2022-23), each with decorated careers. Among their highlights, Leveille and Stecklein won three NCAA National Championships, and Pannek won two straight. Heise (97G, 130A), who won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award in 2022, ranks sixth in career points with 227, and Zumwinkle (109G, 100A) ranks eighth with 209. The pair rank one-two in all-time games played with 173 and 172 respectively. Boreen ranks seventh in all-time games played with 166. Pannek’s 43-assist season in2016-17 is tied for sixth best. Stecklein ranks seventh in all-time points by a defender. Leveille has the best all-time goals-against-average and save percentage with marks of 1.18 and .947. Bench’s career .920 SV% ranks ninth. Toronto has one former Gopher in Olivia Knowles (2017-23) who ranks fourth in all-time games played with 168. Minnesota GM Natalie Darwitz is also a Gophers legend. She won back-to-back National Championships in 2004 and 2005 and ranks third in all-time points with 246 and first in points-per-game with a mark of 2.48. Toronto GM Gina Kingsbury (St. Lawrence University) and Hockey Operations Manager Tuula Puputti (University of Minnesota-Duluth) competed in the inaugural NCAA Women’s Frozen Four hosted at 3M Arena at Mariucci in 2001. Puputti, a member of the All-Tournament Team, backstopped the Bulldogs to a National Championship title with a 4-2 victory over Kingsbury’s Saints.




The Ms. Hockey Award has been given annually since 1996 to the best female senior hockey school hockey players in the state of Minnesota. On Sunday, Northfield forward Ayla Puppe was named the 2024 recipient. Several Minnesota players have a history with the award including Taylor Heise (Red Wing) who received the honor in 2018, and Grace Zumwinkle (Breck School) in 2017. Lee Stecklein (Roseville, 2012), Kelly Pannek (Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 2014), Sophia Kunin (Wayzata, 2015), and Sydney Brodt (Mounds View, 2016) were all finalists for the award, and Liz Schepers (Mound Westonka, 2017), Abby Boreen (Hill-Murray, 2018), and Claire Butorac (Andover, 2018) were named semifinalists. PWHL Boston’s Hannah Brandt (Hill-Murray) won the award in 2012, and Gigi Marvin (Warroad) won in 2005.




It’s so exciting that we are able to come back to the University of Minnesota and play this game. I have to say it was the best college hockey experience and I was very fortunate to have five great years there.  I know a few of us bleed maroon and gold and I’m exited to see some of the best college hockey fans turn up to watch us!” – Grace Zumwinkle, Minnesota

“We’re getting plenty of shots and chances. Tonight – and every night – we need to follow that up by getting more traffic to the net. Moving forward, we need to be determined to get into that space and take advantage whenever we have those opportunities. Our group works hard and competes every night, we need to finish the chances we’re creating and get pucks in the net.” – Ken Klee, Minnesota


“It’s really exciting to be back on campus, playing in a familiar venue. It feels like a homecoming for me and I’m so grateful for the community here who have continually supported my career. It should be a special night.” – Olivia Knowles, Toronto


“We are looking forward to this matchup. We will need to be at our best to win on the road against a strong Minnesota team. We are in a good place right now winning five in a row, but at the same time we know we have another level of play. We will continue to work towards finding what that level is.” – Troy Ryan, Toronto




Minnesota (+1) is third in goal differential and Toronto (even) is fourth…Toronto (2.33) is in a four-way tie for second in goals-per-game average and Minnesota (2.0) ranks sixth…Minnesota (1.92) allows the fewest goals-per-game on average and Toronto (2.33) allows the third most…Both Minnesota and Toronto have scored first in six of their games…Toronto (+38) is second in shot differential and Minnesota (+24) ranks third…Toronto (29.67) is second in shots-per-game average and Minnesota (28.38) ranks third…Toronto (26.42) allows the second fewest shots-per-game on average and Minnesota (26.54) allows the third fewest…Toronto has outshot opponents in nine of 12 games, Minnesota in six of 13 games…Minnesota has three of the league’s five highest single game shot totals…Toronto (7.33) is second in average penalty minutes per game and Minnesota (5.69) has the second fewest…Toronto (3/37) is fourth in powerplay efficiency at 8.1%…Minnesota (2/34) ranks sixth on the PP at 5.9%…Toronto (39/41) is first in penalty kill efficiency at 95.1%…Minnesota (26/33) ranks sixth on the PK at 78.8%…Natalie Spooner (TOR) leads the league with 10 goals…Grace Zumwinkle (MIN) ranks third in goals scored with seven…Zumwinkle leads the league with three game-winning goals…Spooner is tied for the league-lead with three powerplay goals…Spooner leads the league with 52 shots on goal…Zumwinkle is second in the league with 48 shots…Lee Stecklein (MIN) is tied for second in the league with 12 penalty minutes…Kelly Pannek (128/231) leads Minnesota in face-offs with a winning percentage of 55.4%…Sarah Nurse (82/146) leads Toronto with a face-off percentage of 56.2%…Blayre Turnbull (41.8%) leads the team with 177 draws…Nicole Hensley (MIN) has five wins in eight starts with a goals-against-average of 1.74 that ranks fourth and a save percentage .940 that is tied for third…Kristen Campbell (TOR) has a league-high seven wins and two shutouts in 11 starts and carries a 2.20 GAA and .918 SV%…Toronto will be utilizing the same lineup as in Friday’s victory over New York.






Coyne Schofield | Pannek | Boreen
Křížová | Cava | Zumwinkle

Butorac | Fleming | Kunin
Bryant | DeGeorge | Kremer

Stecklein | Jaques
Channell | Buchbinder
Greco | Flaherty


Hensley | Rooney


Scratches: Bench, Brodt, Heise, Leveille, Schepers




Miller | Nurse | Spooner
Maltais | Turnbull | Connors
Bach | Compher | Howard
Cogan | Vasko | Leslie


Larocque | Fast

Munroe | Flanagan

Rougeau | Knowles


Campbell | Howe


Scratches: Jackson, Poulin-Labelle




Referees: Tatu Kunto (San Diego, CA) and Alex Lepkowski (West Seneca, NY).
Linespersons: Patrick Dapuzzo (Rutherford, NJ) and Greg Offerman (Madison, WI).

Follow the league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus team accounts @pwhl_minnesota and @pwhl_toronto.





Media Contact:
Paul Krotz
PWHL Director of Communications