Strong local ties among draftees of new Minnesota pro women’s hockey team

The inaugural draft class for the as-yet-unnamed Minnesota franchise in the new PWHL women’s pro hockey league has a distinctly homestate flavor. Seven of the fifteen draftees played high school hockey in Minnesota and eight played college hockey at in-state schools.

Only four of the team’s draftees are neither native Minnesotans nor played at an in-state college, but even among those four, two previously played professional hockey for Minnesota-based teams.

Draft Round: Player, Position, Hometown or Minnesota H.S./College

  • 1: Taylor Heise, F, Red Wing / Gophers
  • 2: Nicole Hensley, G, Denver / Lindenwood @
  • 3: Grace Zumwinkle, F, Blake School / Gophers
  • 4: Maggie Flaherty, D, Lakeville North / UMD
  • 5: Susanna Tapani, F, Laitila Finland / N. Dakota
  • 6: Clair DeGeorge, F, Anchorage (Shattuck St. Mary’s) / Bemidji St
  • 7: Natalie Buchbinder, D, Rochester NY (Shattuck St. Mary’s) / Wisconsin
  • 8: Denisa Krizová, F, Horní Cerekev Czechia / Northeastern #
  • 9: Sidney Morin, D, Minnetonka / UMD #
  • 10: Sophia Shaver Kunin, F, Wayzata / Wisconsin
  • 11: Amanda Leveille, G, Kingston Ont / Gophers #
  • 12: Michela Cava, F, Thunder Bay Ont / UMD
  • 13: Liz Schepers, F, Mound Westonka / Ohio St #
  • 14: Minttu Tuominen, D, Helsinki Finland / Ohio St
  • 15: Sydney Brodt, F, Mounds View / UMD #
  • Free agent: Kelly Pannek, F, Benilde-St Margaret’s / Gophers @
  • Free agent: Lee Stecklein, D, Roseville / Gophers # @
  • Free agent: Kendall Coyne-Schofield, F, Chicago / Northeastern # @

# = previously played for Minnesota Whitecaps in PHF

@ = previously played for Minnesota franchise in PWPHA

RELATED: Minnesota picks Taylor Heise 1st in the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League draft

The Professional Women’s Hockey League’s 15-round draft took place in Toronto on Monday.

Six charter franchises – Minnesota, New York, Boston, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal – selected 90 players from a pool of players who had declared for the draft that populated rosters for the league’s upcoming inaugural season.

The Minnesota franchise previously signed former Benilde-St Margaret’s and Gophers forward Kelly Pannek, Roseville-grad and former Gopher defenseman Lee Stecklein and longtime U.S. Women’s National Team standout Kendall Coyne-Schofield.

Each PWHL franchise was able to negotiate and sign three free agents prior to the draft.

Many players with Minnesota-ties were also drafted by other PWHL teams.

Round/Pick# – TEAM: Player, High School / College

  • 1/1 – MIN: Taylor Heise, Red Wing / Gophers
  • 1/2 – TOR: Jocelyne Larocque, UMD
  • 2/8 – OTT: Ashton Bell, UMD
  • 3/13 – MIN: Grace Zumwinkle, Breck / Gophers
  • 4/20 – OTT: Gabbie Hughes, Centennial / UMD
  • 4/24 – MIN: Maggie Flaherty, Lakeville N / UMD
  • 5/27 – BOS: Hannah Brandt, Hill-Murray / Gophers
  • 5/28 – NY: Elizabeth Giguere, UMD
  • 6/36 – MIN: Clair DeGeorge, Bemidji St
  • 8/43 – MTL: Madison Bizal, Elk River
  • 8/46 – BOS: Emily Brown, Blaine / Gophers
  • 9/49 – MIN: Sidney Morin, Minnetonka / UMD
  • 10/57 – NY: Paetyn Levis, Rogers
  • 10/58 – BOS: Emma Soderberg, UMD
  • 10/60 – MIN: Sophia Shaver Kunin, Wayzata
  • 11/61 – MIN: Amanda Leveille, Gophers
  • 12/72 – MIN: Michela Cava, UMD
  • 13/73 – MIN: Liz Schepers, Mound Westonka
  • 15/85 – MIN: Sydney Brodt, Mounds View / UMD
  • 15/86 – TOR: Olivia Knowles, Gophers

Teams will complete rosters with additional free agent signings as training camp opens in November ahead of the start of the PWHL’s debut in January.

The league is accepting deposits for season tickets.

Announcements regarding the PWHL Minnesota franchises name and home rink are expected soon.

The PWHL formed when new ownership took control of the former PWPHA, a barnstorming league formed when many of women’s hockey’s top players were unhappy with the existing PHF (originally the NWHL).

In announcing the formation of the PWHL, ownership shuttered the PHF and its franchises.

The Minnesota Whitecaps had been playing in the NWHL/PHF before the league was folded into the new PWHL.

The PWHL incorporates a players union, collective bargaining agreement and salary cap aimed at organizing league structure and player payroll in a manner unprecedented in women’s professisonal hockey.