Minnesota at Boston PWHL game preview: Olympians dot both rosters


6 p.m. Wednesday at Boston's Tsongas Center

TV: Bally Sports North Extra

New deal struck: Bally's Sports North will carry all of the team's 24 regular-season games. It's a deal similar to the ones the PWHL struck with MSG Network in New York and NESN in New York and Boston markets, respectively. All games also are streamed on the PWHL's YouTube channel.

Pregame reading: Six things to know about the new PWHL and the new Minnesota franchise from when the six teams were announced in August.

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Jerry Zgoda's preview:

Opening bell: This is the Professional Women's Hockey League debut for both franchises. Minnesota's home opener is Saturday afternoon against Montreal at Xcel Energy Center. All six PWHL teams will play 12 home games and 12 away games in a season that began Monday with a New York-Toronto opener. The season ends in early May after a three-week break in late March because of the world championships.

Watch her: PWHL No. 1 overall draft pick and Lake City's own Taylor Heise makes her pro debut with Minnesota General Manager Natalie Darwitz expecting big things from a player she says is a game-changer on every shift. "That's what is going to raise the level of this league," Darwitz said. "You need players like Taylor to do that. Every time on the ice it's like, 'ooh, ahh' every time she touches the puck."

Boston's roster includes four-time Olympian Hilary Knight and two Minnesota natives — Gigi Marvin (Warroad) and Hannah Brandt (Hill-Murray) — who starred for the Gophers and became Olympic gold medal winners. Knight, 34, has won one gold and three silver medals in the Olympics. She also has won nine golds and four silvers in 13 world championship appearances for Team USA. She played two Premier Hockey Federation seasons as the Boston Pride's captain and won the first Isobel Cup in 2016. She was a founding member of the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association in 2019 and served on its board.

Forecast: Expect this to be the start of a long rivalry between the two teams who play each other five times in the regular season.