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Minnesota's PWHL team, which won the league's inaugural championship May 29 only to see General Manager and Minnesota hockey icon forced out a week later, on Monday night got back to the team-building business of the draft.

With a raucous crowd cheering on every mention of Minnesota's Walter Cup triumph, the team selected defenseman Claire Thompson with the third overall pick during the draft at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Making the pick was coach Ken Klee, who took over the GM role for the draft. It was a rift between Klee and Darwitz that led to Darwitz being forced out, league sources told the Star Tribune.

Thompson, 26, was on the reserve list for New York's PWHL team this season while she attended medical school. She's putting those aspirations on hold for now.

"It was a really difficult decision," she said. "I love medical school, and it's been a longtime dream of mine to become a doctor. But my sights have been set on continuing to play professional hockey during this period of my life. My goal had been to be able to do both, but obviously that wasn't possible this past year."

Thompson, a Toronto native, played four years at Princeton, collecting 31 goals and 56 assists. She had two goals and 11 assists in seven games for Canada's 2022 Olympic gold medalists.

"We fit a lot of player types that we were looking for," Klee said, adding that the staff felt Thompson was the best player available after New York selected Princeton center Sarah Fillier first and Ottawa took Colgate forward Danielle Serdachny second.

In the second round, Minnesota selected Wisconsin center Britta Curl. The Bismarck, N.D., native helped the Badgers win the 2023 NCAA championship and finish runner-up this year. She had 41 goals and 63 assists over the past two seasons and is known as a strong two-way player.

"I think of this as my home team, being from North Dakota," Curl said. "This league suits my style really well. I'm a physical player and can play a 200-foot game."

In the third round, Minnesota selected St. Cloud State forward Klara Hymlarova, a native of the Czech Republic. The 2022 Olympian led the Huskies in scoring with eight goals and 16 assists last season.

Minnesota took Clarkson forwards Brooke McQuigge and Dominique Petrie in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. The team's final two picks were St. Lawrence defender Mae Batherson in the sixth and Northeastern forward Katy Knoll in the seventh.

PWHL Minnesota's first pick, Claire Thompson, was not present when her name was announced Monday night at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
PWHL Minnesota's first pick, Claire Thompson, was not present when her name was announced Monday night at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

Renée Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Former Gopher Abigail Boreen, who played 14 games for PWHL Minnesota this season on a waiver while attending pharmacy school, was selected by Montreal with the fifth pick of the third round. Boreen, a former Hill-Murray standout, received a rousing ovation when introduced.

One pick later, Toronto selected Cornell forward Izzy Daniel, a Minneapolis native and Blake product who won the 2024 Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in college women's hockey after collecting 21 goals and 38 assists in 34 games for the Big Red.

In the fourth round, New York took Ohio State forward Gabby Rosenthal, a former Blaine standout. Ottawa took Minnesota Duluth forward Mannon McMahon of Maple Grove in the fifth round. Former Centennial and UMD forward Anneke Linser went to Toronto in the sixth round. Ottawa picked former Gophers defender Madeline Wethington of Edina in the seventh.

With the next-to-last pick in the draft, Montreal picked 32-year-old former Gophers forward Amanda Kessel, winner of an Olympic gold medal, three NCAA championships and the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award. Kessel took last season off from playing to work in the Pittsburgh Penguins front office.