Professional women’s hockey returns to Minnesota this week

Hockey players kneel on an ice rink
Players listen to instructions for the next drill during a Minnesota PWHL preseason practice on Dec. 31, 2023 at TRIA Rink in St. Paul.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

Updated: 6 a.m.

Like the rest of its Professional Women’s Hockey League counterparts, Minnesota’s team doesn’t have a name yet. But its roster is filled with big names who are ready to hit the ice for their inaugural game Wednesday night in Boston.

The entire league — made up of three U.S. teams and three Canadian teams — is brand new and garnering a lot of excitement because of what it means for women’s sports.

Hockey players skate on a rink
Players run through drills during a Minnesota PWHL preseason practice on Dec. 31, 2023 at TRIA Rink in St. Paul.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

“We wanted for a league, something that everyone could do full time and that little girls could see and dream and know that it would be there,” said Minnesota player and former Gopher and Olympian Lee Stecklein at a New Year’s Eve practice.

“I think so many careers over the years have been maybe cut a little short. You never get to see everyone’s full potential. So we have a really skilled and talented group here and I’m excited for us all to keep reaching our new potential together.”

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Hockey players stand on a rink
Players huddle at the end of a Minnesota PWHL preseason practice on Dec. 31, 2023 at TRIA Rink in St. Paul.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

While there have been professional women’s hockey leagues in the past, they’ve often faced shaky financial footing, leading to leagues ending or merging. Now, Stecklein and her colleagues have a solid foundation.

This new league has the financial backing of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Mark Walter and his wife, Kimbra. The Associated Press reports the couple has committed to putting money down to finance the league and a union contract with players for the next seven years. Tennis icon Billie Jean King is helping to run the league.

A hockey player fixes their helmet's visor
Susanna Tapani cleans her helmet during a Minnesota PWHL preseason practice on Dec. 31, 2023 at TRIA Rink in St. Paul.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

It boasts several players from the state of hockey. There are 21 Minnesotans playing, with 13 of them playing for their home team. Minnesota also has five players from the 2022 silver medal-winning U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team.

Each will play 24 games this season. Minnesota will play eight games in January, six in February, five in March, three in April and two in May, with the possibility of playoffs after the regular season.

So far, there’s a good indication fans will show up. 

According to Ticketmaster, most tickets have sold for Saturday’s home opener. The Minnesota Team will host Montreal at 2:30 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center.

But fans can also find games on Bally Sports North and YouTube.

A hockey player takes a shot on a goalie
Abby Cook kicks up snow during a shooting drill at a Minnesota PWHL preseason practice on Dec. 31, 2023 at TRIA Rink in St. Paul.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

The puck drop for Wednesday’s season opener in Boston is set for 6 p.m. central time.

As for the timing of a team name announcement, it’s still a mystery. We have an idea of what it might be; The Athletic reports a trademark for the name Minnesota Superior was filed in October. But new teams often file trademark applications for multiple names.

2024 PWHL Minnesota regular season schedule at Xcel Energy Center

All schedule dates and times are subject to change.

  • Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, 2:30 p.m. CT — Montreal at Minnesota

  • Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, 7 p.m. CT — Toronto at Minnesota

  • Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, 3 p.m. CT — New York at Minnesota

  • Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, 7 p.m. CT — Montreal at Minnesota

  • Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, 7 p.m. CT — Ottawa at Minnesota

  • Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, 3 p.m. CT — Boston at Minnesota

  • Tuesday, March 5, 2024, 7 p.m. CT — Ottawa at Minnesota

  • Wednesday, March 13, 2024, 7 p.m. CT — Boston at Minnesota

  • Saturday, March 16, 2024, 2:30 p.m. CT — New York at Minnesota

  • Sunday, March 24, 2024, 3 p.m. CT — Montreal at Minnesota

  • Saturday, April 27, 2024, 2:30 p.m. CT — Boston at Minnesota