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Three Gophers drafted in 2024 Professional Women’s Hockey League Draft

Players from three different Minnesota colleges were drafted.
PWHL+advisory+board+member+Billie+Jean+King+announced+the+first+three+picks+of+the+draft.
Image by Daye Stager
PWHL advisory board member Billie Jean King announced the first three picks of the draft.

Former Gophers Abigail Boreen, Madeline Wethington and Amanda Kessel were selected to play for Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) teams in the league’s second-ever draft Monday evening. 

167 women anxiously awaited to hear their name at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, but only 42 would step away as members of the PWHL.

As the first of three former Gophers drafted, Boreen heard her name in the third round going 17th overall to Montreal. 

Boreen won the Walter Cup with PWHL Minnesota last season but bypassed the inaugural draft and signed with the team as a reserve. She was crowned a champion while attending the University of Minnesota’s pharmacy school full-time. 

Boreen entered her name in the draft to play full-time next season. 

“It’s hard to leave a program you gave your heart and soul for, but I am really excited for this opportunity,” Boreen said, holding back tears.  

Four rounds after Boreen was called to the stage, PWHL Ottawa General Manager Mike Hirshfeld announced Wethington as the 38th overall pick.

The St. Paul crowd showered her with cheers.

The 2019 Blake High School graduate spent five years with the Gophers. Wethington tied the program record with 173 games played and helped lead the team to an NCAA Frozen Four in 2023. 

“Obviously (Minnesota is) the state of hockey,” Wethington said. “I’m excited for a new market. Ottawa seems like a great place.” 

The final Gopher drafted was 32-year-old Kessel. The Madison, Wisconsin native was part of the Gophers when they won three national titles. 

Rather than declare for the draft last year, Kessel worked as special assistant to the general manager of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Kessel was drafted 41st overall to PWHL Montreal and will bring her three Olympic medals to the team that finished with the second-best record last season. 

Former Gophers goaltender Lucy Morgan registered for the draft but was one of the 125 women who did not hear their names called.

The largely Minnesota crowd made their disappointment known with the PWHL’s decision to let their former Minnesota General Manager,  Natalie Darwitz, go. Boos from fans echoed in the auditorium as head coach Ken Klee took the stage with Billie Jean King for Minnesota’s first-round pick. 

Darwitz was a three-time Olympic medalist from Eagan and a former Gophers associate coach. She left her position with PWHL Minnesota after winning the inaugural championship.

“I am very proud of the team and organization that was built and the championship we brought home to this great State of Hockey,” Darwitz said in a public statement on Sunday. “At this time, I am not able to provide any details regarding my departure.”

Since there are no team owners, the PWHL operates every team, meaning league officials had the final decision over Darwitz’s job. 

PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford said the league reviewed the situation in Minnesota for months before deciding to let her go. 

“We completely recognize the iconic status of Natalie Darwitz in the state of Minnesota,” Hefford said for the AP. “Her incredible contributions to the PWHL, to building a championship team. Certainly, this was the last thing we wanted to happen. But our job is to also do what’s right for the league, and so that’s where we’re at today.”

Hefford said they looked around the league to make sure the current personnel would succeed, and they found no path forward with the current staff in Minnesota. 

PWHL Minnesota’s draft picks 

Round 1, Pick 3 – D, Claire Thompson (Team Sonnet/PWHPA)

Round 2, Pick 9 – F, Britta Curl (University of Wisconsin)

Round 3, Pick 15 – F, Klára Hymlárová (St. Cloud State University)

Round 4, Pick 21 – F, Brooke McQuigge (Clarkson University)

Round 5, Pick 27 – F, Dominique Petrie (Clarkson University)

Round 6, Pick 33 – D, Mae Batherson (St. Lawrence University)

Round 7, Pick 39 – F, Katy Knoll (Northeastern University)

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