MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — History will be made Saturday afternoon, as the puck drops on the first professional women’s hockey game in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Whitecaps will make their expansion debut in the NWHL.
From the moment it became official, to when it becomes a reality this weekend — the momentum has been building.
“The biggest thing is it’s history in the making. This is the first time that Minnesota has had a professional women’s hockey team, so I think that’s a lot of excitement,” said Head Coach Ronda Curtin Engelhardt.
Thinking back to her playing days, Curtin Engelhardt says there was a time when nobody would have imagined this day would come.
“Twenty years ago, if people asked me what sport I would play, and I would say hockey, and they would look at me funny,” Curtin Engelhardt said. “’Girls can’t play hockey.’ I would hear that all the time. And so now, I think that stigma has gone away, and girls have proven that they can play, they can play at high levels, and it’s a fun game to watch.”
Saturday’s game is expected to be a sellout, but that is not the only indication that fans have embraced the team. The Whitecaps are already leading the league in season ticket sales.
As for how good they can be out of the gate? Well, the Whitecaps are not your typical expansion team, which could help.
“It’s kind of a unique situation because the Whitecaps have been around for, you know, 14 years,” Curtin Engelhardt said. “So we have original players on the team, and then we have new players that have never played for the Whitecaps, so that’s kind of exciting. And it’s just blending us all together and making us one team that’s gonna be competitive for sure. The energy at practice has been great.”
And when that puck finally drops, it will be hard for Curtin Engelhardt to contain herself.
“I think my insides are gonna wanna kinda jump out, and wish I could be playing, but I’m excited,” she said.
The game begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at TRIA Rink in St. Paul. The team is playing the defending champion, the Metropolitan Riveters.
Right now, the only way to get tickets to the game is to purchase season tickets, all the other seats are sold out.