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Kendall Coyne Schofield leads Minnesota to inaugural PWHL championship in a reunion of Northeastern stars

The historic winner-take-all Game 5 of the PWHL Finals amounted to a generational showdown for a quartet of Husky hockey legends.

Kendall Coyne Schofield holding up a trophy in front of the Minnesota PWHL team.
Northeastern legend Kendall Coyne Schofield lifted the Walter Cup for her PWHL Minnesota teammates. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

LOWELL, Massachusetts — In a showdown of former Northeastern University stars, Minnesota beat Boston, 3-0, Wednesday to earn the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League championship. 

Former Huskies Kendall Coyne Schofield (who scored an empty-netter with 2:06 remaining) and Denisa Krizova of Minnesota were among the initial players to hoist the PWHL’s Walter Cup on the ice of the sold-out Tsongas Center, where the cost of resale tickets approached $3,000. 

The long-awaited women’s league has exceeded all expectations with huge crowds and a physical, exciting style of play. 

“There’s something very special about being the first to do something in life,” said Coyne Schofield, the Minnesota captain whose team overcame an 0-2 deficit in its best-of-five opening round with Toronto. “For us to be the first Walter Cup champions is something that is extremely special and that will be a part of this league’s legacy forever.”

Aerin Frankel making a save.
Aerin Frankel made 41 saves to keep Boston in contention. AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

The historic winner-take-all Game 5 of the PWHL Finals amounted to a generational reunion of Husky legends, as Coyne Schofield and Krizova took on the challenge of Boston’s forward Alina Mueller and goaltender Aerin Frankel, who made 41 saves in a masterful performance that was reflective of her play throughout the postseason.

Coyne Schofield launched Northeastern’s drive to women’s hockey prominence when she won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the national player of 2015-16 with Krizova as her teammate. Five years later the same honor went to Frankel — and joining her among the 10 finalists for the award was her teammate Mueller, who left Northeastern in 2023 after overtaking Coyne Schofield as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Frankel was her usual exemplary self for much of Game 5. She had made 13 saves when Minnesota broke open the scoring with 13:46 remaining in the second period. Liz Schepers slipped behind Frankel on the far post to finish a cross from Sydney Brodt — the fourth time in the series that Minnesota had scored the opening goal. 

Minnesota outshot their hosts, 35-10, over the final two periods.

During that onslaught Frankel continued to make daredevil saves as the fans chanted her name. Minnesota fired the first 12 shots of the final period on its way to seizing a 2-0 lead. Michela Cava came around from behind the net and slipped the crucial goal under Frankel, who wasn’t able to find the puck as it snailed across the line with 11:52 remaining.

Kendall Coyne Schofield holding a trophy over her head on the rink.
Coyne Schofield scored an empty-netter to finish Minnesota’s 3-0 victory. AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

Frankel, who entered the game with a .953 save percentage, was the main reason why third-seeded Boston was able to sweep favored Montreal in the opening round. She’s been nicknamed the “Green Monster” in honor of the famous wall at Fenway Park, having made 30 or more saves in each of Boston’s five postseason wins.

“We couldn’t be more grateful and proud of her performance throughout the year,” said Boston captain Hilary Knight. “She’s the best goalie in the league, no doubt about it.”

Boston and Minnesota, who grabbed the final two playoff spots, waged a back-and-forth final series. Frankel was sensational in Boston’s wins in Games 1 and 4, while Mueller scored both of Boston’s goals in Games 3 and 4 — including the game-winner in overtime to extend the series to Game 5.

Coyne Schofield finished the playoffs with a goal and three assists while Krizova scored two goals. 

Though their team had lost, most of the fans remained for the championship ceremony — which included tennis legend Billie Jean King, a PWHL founding advisory board member. 

The championship caps a big 12 months for Coyne Schofield, who had her first child last summer. 

“It’s a feeling that you chase every day,” Coyne Schofield said. “Whether you’re in the weight room, you’re on the ice, we’ve been chasing it all season.”

“Kendall is not only the mom of the league, but mom of the team,” said Minnesota’s Taylor Heise, who was named MVP of the Finals. “She’s someone who does everything and anything and somehow still has a child. I’m not really sure how she can do it all but she manages it quite well.”