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Flaherty’s first goal propels PWHL Minnesota to win over Ottawa

PWHL Minnesota defender Maggie Flaherty's first goal this season early in the third period stood as the winner in a 2-1 victory over PWHL Ottawa on Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Her deflection of captain Kendall Coyne Schofield's shot with 3:35 gone in the third period finished a comeback after the teams swapped goals in the first and second periods.

Former Minnesota Whitecaps defender Amanda Boulier scored for Ottawa in the game's opening six minutes, and Abby Boreen countered for Minnesota for a 1-1 tie with 2:35 gone in the second period.

Boreen also assisted on Flaherty's winning third-period goal.

The attendance was announced at 6,276 on a snowy, midweek winter's night.

PWHL Minnesota played without star forward Taylor Heise, the league's No. 1 overall pick in the draft in September. She sustained what team officials called an upper-body injury and was seen with her arm in a sling after the game.

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On Tuesday, PHWL Minnesota General Manager Natalie Darwitz lamented the officiating in the inaugural season's first six weeks.

"Given this high level of hockey — with international hockey and the PWHL — she's just taking a beating with these open-ice hits they're allowing. It doesn't bode well for the skilled players who carry the puck," Darwitz said. "Knowing Taylor, she's super human. She'll probably be back sooner than what her prognosis is."

Minnesota coach Ken Klee suggested Heise might miss Wednesday's home game and Saturday's rematch at Ottawa.

"She's a little nicked up," Klee said. "But then again, this is pro sports. There are a lot of games. You add those rivalry games in there and things happen. I hope she won't be out too long, but it's probably this week for sure."

Newly acquired defender Sophie Jaques made her Minnesota debut, starting alongside co-captain Lee Stecklein after a three-player trade with Boston — the first trade in league history — on Sunday.

Jaques didn't score a goal or record an assist in her seven games with Boston, but she needed just more than a period to help her new team score.

Jaques' big slap shot from just inside the blue line went wide left just a half minute after Ottawa's Zoe Boyd went off for cross-checking from behind. Veteran Kelly Pannek shoveled a backhander toward the goal that goalkeeper Emerance Maschmeyer blocked, but Boreen reached and swatted a righthanded shot into the net for her second goal this season.

Darwitz traded for Jaques seeking to add an offensive dimension to her team's defenders and decided Jaques — whom Darwitz watched "dominate" the Gophers for two seasons while Darwitz was an assistant coach — was the right piece.

So she traded Finnish forward Susanna Tapani and defender Abby Cook in exchange for her.

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Jaques won the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award for being deemed the best player in Division I women's hockey during the 2022-23 season.

Boulier scored the game's first goal with just 5:29 gone in the game.

She did so by flicking a shot from along the boards beyond the top of the right circle. It skipped past Minnesota goaltender Maddie Rooney, who made her fourth start in 10 Minnesota games this season. It was her first start since a 3-2 overtime win Jan. 27 at Boston.

Boulier, 30, played four seasons with the Premier Hockey Federation's Minnesota Whitecaps, in two different stints from 2018-21 and again 2022-23. She won her first of two Isobel Cups in 2019 with Minnesota and again with the Boston Pride in 2021-22. She attended St. Lawrence University and was raised in Watertown, Conn.