Pro series held at Ridder over the weekend

The series was the first in Minnesota with pro women’s players on the ice.

Rachael Bona plays against the Gophers at Ridder Arena on Sept. 24, 2015.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Rachael Bona plays against the Gophers at Ridder Arena on Sept. 24, 2015.

Emily Polglaze

History was made last weekend at Ridder Arena although the Gophers played away from home.
 
The Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League and the Minnesota Whitecaps played the first professional women’s hockey games in Minnesota on Friday and Saturday
 
“It’s really special,” former Gophers forward Rachael Bona said. “Obviously, the game of women’s hockey is growing, and they kind of have it going out east, so bringing it to Minnesota, a hockey hub, is really cool.”
 
The Whitecaps’ 31-player roster includes 14 former Minnesota players and four Olympians in Team USA members Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux and
Anne Schleper, along with Mira Jalosuo, who represented Team Finland. 
 
The Boston Pride has one former Minnesota player on its roster with Gigi Marvin. Marvin played for the Gophers from 2005 to 2009 and is the program’s eighth all-time leading scorer.
 
She is also a two-time Olympic silver medalist and played for the Whitecaps for one season following the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. 
 
The Whitecaps do not have their own rink or belong to a league.
 
The Pride belongs to the four-team NWHL, which was officially launched in April. The team is in second place at 5-3 so far this season.
 
The Gophers played the Whitecaps in an exhibition game in September and won 5-4. Several Whitecaps and Pride players came out to watch the Gophers in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game Friday in Roseville, Minn., where Minnesota defeated St. Cloud State 7-0.
 
The professional series began the next night, and the Pride commanded the first two periods to take a 4-0 lead.
 
The Whitecaps were able to prevent the shutout in the third, but the Pride added an empty-net goal to win 5-1.
 
Minnesota’s former players were able to help the Whitecaps come out stronger in game two.
 
Bona scored early in the first period and fellow Gophers alumnus Sarah Erickson scored on the power play to put the Whitecaps up 2-0 at the first intermission. 
 
The two teams each scored twice in the second before former Minnesota forward Meghan Lorence scored to put the Whitecaps up 5-2. The Pride added two final goals in the third but weren’t able to complete a comeback.
 
Even though the series was the first of its kind in Minnesota, the two teams came in with plenty of knowledge on each other. 
 
“Our players and their players played with or against one another on teams or in college,” Pride head coach Bobby Jay said. “We knew what to expect. It was positives all the way around.”
 
The NWHL is still in its first season, but the series may not be the last time the league visits Minnesota.
 
Four Gophers players were selected in the first NWHL draft in June: forward Hannah Brandt, defenseman Milica McMillen, goaltender Amanda Leveille and forward Maryanne Menefee.
 
Marvin said the league may also eventually expand to Minnesota.
 
“I would assume [a team would come to Minnesota]. That’s what everyone has been talking about,” Marvin said.