Women's hockey history was made on Wednesday, with PWHL Minnesota taking home the inaugural league championship Walter Cup.

After Boston forced a Game 5 in double-overtime on Sunday, Minnesota went on to notch a decisive victory with a final score of 3-0. Liz Schepers, Michela Cava, and Kendall Coyne Schofield all found the back of the net for Minnesota, with Schofield’s coming on an empty-netter to end the game. 

The win came after a disappointing Game 4 loss at home that saw a game-winning — and possibly championship-winning — Minnesota goal waived off. But back in Boston, Minnesota was determined not to leave without that Cup. 

"I just think to have something so good taken away, like last game, I just think we knew we had to have it," Taylor Heise, who was named Playoffs MVP after posting a league-leading eight postseason points, told the Athletic. "Like that feeling [of winning] — you had it and you want it back."

The captain and oldest member of the roster, Coyne Schofield had the honors of taking the first lap on the ice with the Walter Cup in hand. 

"It makes me want to tear up thinking about it. She's done so much for this sport," Heise said about the captain. "She's definitely one of the people that's helped this sport grow and one of the reasons why this arena is sold out here tonight."

Minnesota goalie Nicole Hensley relayed that Coyne Schofield, who helped to found the PWHL, was more than worthy of the win.

"There’s so much about this day that she deserves," said goalie Nicole Hensley. “She has obviously done so much for this sport and for this professional league. It’s completely fitting that she’s the first one to touch the Walter Cup.”

Perhaps fittingly, Minnesota began the season with a win over Boston and ended it the same way. And yet as they entered the playoffs, the odds were stacked against them,

Minnesota started postseason play as the lowest seed after ending a regular season that saw record-breaking attendance numbers on a five-game losing streak. Then, on the brink of elimination against top-seeded Toronto — who started the first round on a 2-0 series lead — Minnesota won three straight to advance to the Finals.

"It’s honestly hard to put into words," said Coyne Schofield. "As soon as we got in, we never looked back. There were times we were down, but we weren’t out. Some people may have counted us out, but we believed in us, the entire way."

Toronto’s Professional Women's Hockey League team skated to victory Wednesday night, kicking off the league's first playoff match with a 4-0 win over visiting Minnesota.

Natalie Spooner — the league's leading regular season goalscorer with 20 goals in 24 games — opened things up with the first playoff goal in PWSHL history at 9:47 of the first period, later notching an assist in front of Coca-Cola Coliseum's 8,473 fans. Captain Blayre Turnbull followed up Spooner's efforts with two goals of her own, securing the game's final point with just 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

In the defensive end, goalie Kristen Campbell put a stop to all 26 shots fired her way. With game one behind them, Toronto has pulled ahead of Minnesota 1-0 in the best-of-five series.

"It's what I believe I expect and I think what the group expects as well," head coach Troy Ryan said in postgame remarks. "Being everything we thought it would be, I think the atmosphere was incredible. I think our performance was pretty good and I think it's a great stepping-stone for us to continue to build on for this series and hopefully moving forward.

For Turnbull, the win came as a result of weeks of regular season preparation, adding that the team was "proud" of its execution throughout their first playoff game. 

"The whole season we’ve been building and building waiting to get into playoffs and trying to find our game every week and get better so that when players arrived, we are ready to go," Turnbull said. "I think there’s still a few areas that we can keep improving on, but overall, we’re pretty happy with where we’re at, so we’re excited to get back on the ice for game two."

The postseason outing continues a record-breaking regular season for the young league. In total, the PWHL set six attendance records for women’s hockey this year, with nearly 400,000 fans showing up to watch the inaugural teams take the ice over the 72-game season.

Toronto will face Minnesota at home once more in Game 2 of the series on Friday, before the teams move to Minnesota for Monday's Game 3. 

UConn’s Paige Bueckers grew up watching basketball in her home state of Minnesota. She has memories of Lynx and Golden Gophers games at Williams Arena — she attended those games starting when she was 10 or 12 years old.

Now, Bueckers will return to The Barn, but not as a spectator.

“It’s super surreal because I grew up going to games at The Barn and watching the Gophers and watching the Lynx play there,” Bueckers said to the Hartford Courant. “So to be playing there, where I grew up, my childhood, at my dream school wearing a UConn jersey in that arena, it’s like a surreal feeling for me.”

The Huskies are set to take on the Gophers in Minnesota at 5 p.m. ET Sunday in a homecoming game for Bueckers. Bueckers will be taking the same court her childhood idols took over a decade ago.

“I envisioned it when I was younger,” Bueckers said. “Just wanting to be the people who were playing on the court. As a young kid, that was where I wanted to be. You never knew what the future was going to hold, but it was something I aspired to do.”

UConn’s head coach Geno Auriemma goes out of his way to schedule homecoming games for his seniors, including two international matchups this season — one for Nika Mühl in Croatia during the Huskies’ preseason tour and one for Aaliyah Edwards in Toronto, which will be played in December.

Williams Arena is likely to be packed when the local star makes her return — more than 10,000 seats are expected to be filled when Bueckers takes the court at the 14,625-seat arena.

Among those 10,000 people will be Bueckers’ family, friends and other Minnesotans in the basketball community. And Bueckers credits these people with her upbringing.

“You often hear the phrase ‘Minnesota nice,’” Bueckers told CT Insider. “I think everything around here, just everybody knows everybody. Everybody’s nice to each other. Everybody’s like family once you meet them. So, I think that just is sort of why I love relationships, why I love people so much and why I love getting to know people so much and I think that has a lot to do with where I’m from.”

But for Bueckers, a homecoming game isn’t just about seeing family and friends. It’s about being who Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsey Whalen were to her for other young girls.

“I want to be an inspiration to kids,” Bueckers said. “I want people to see that injuries happen, adversity happens, but what do you do to come back from it? How hard do you attack that process? I want people to see passion when they see me play, fire and energy and that I love the game.”

College volleyball continues to surge in the TV ratings.

Sunday’s match between No. 2 Wisconsin and Minnesota became the most-watched in NCAA history, averaging 1.66 million viewers. The Badgers and Gophers got a boost from a prime spot on FOX, filling the 4 p.m. ET NFL window for regions without a football game in that slot. In total, 76% of the United States received the match on FOX.

The previous viewership record for an NCAA volleyball match came in 2021, when 1.19 million viewers tuned in to watch Wisconsin win the national championship over Nebraska. And the previous regular-season viewership record came just last week, when Wisconsin lost to Nebraska — and averaged 612,000 viewers on Big Ten Network, more than the Cornhuskers football game the same day.

“How many times have we seen when you give opportunities to elite women’s sports that they show up?” Minnesota head coach Keegan Cook told the Star Tribune. “You have to have opportunity in order to meet opportunity … elated to see the response.”

Wisconsin swept Minnesota 3-0 on Sunday, but that didn’t deter viewers. The match averaged more viewers than Formula 1 racing on ABC, the Premier League on NBC and NFL Countdown on ESPN.

Earlier this year, 518,000 viewers tuned in to watch Nebraska’s outdoor volleyball match in late August, which set the all-time attendance record for women’s sports.