LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — Kendall Coyne Schofield once showed off her speed racing against the men in an NHL skills competition at All-Star weekend.

On Wednesday night, she made a mad dash into women’s hockey history.

The three-time Olympian chased down a rolling puck and knocked it into an empty net to seal Minnesota’s 3-0 victory over Boston in the winner-take-all Game 5 to claim the inaugural championship of the Professional Women’s Hockey League.

Liz Schepers scored to break a scoreless, second-period tie, Michela Cava made it 2-0 midway through the third period and Nicole Hensley stopped 17 shots for Minnesota. Coyne Schofield added the empty netter with two minutes left, and then the captain and oldest member of the roster took the first lap on the ice with the Walter Cup.

“It makes me want to tear up thinking about it. She’s done so much for this sport,” said forward Taylor Heise, who was named the playoff MVP. “She’s definitely one of the people that’s helped this sport grow and one of the reasons why this arena is sold out here tonight.”

Three nights after prematurely celebrating a would-be game-winner in double overtime that was waved off for goaltender interference, Hensley earned her second shutout of the playoffs. The two-time Olympian from Colorado had posted one in 14 games during the regular season, when Minnesota limped into the playoffs on a seven-game losing streak.

“We’re ‘the State of Hockey,’” said Heise, who was the league’s No. 1 overall draft pick. “And I think this proves it.”

Boston goalie Aerin Frankel, dubbed the “Green Monster” in her forest green home sweater, made 41 saves for the runners-up. The sold-out crowd at the Tsongas Center, about an hour north of Boston, chanted her name and “Thank you, Boston!” after the final buzzer, even as the Minnesota players celebrated on the ice and league officials set up the podium for the trophy presentation.

Boston forced a decisive fifth game only after Sophie Jaques’ apparent goal in double overtime in Game 4 was taken off the board because of goaltender interference. The Minnesota players, who had already streamed onto the ice to celebrate, throwing their equipment in the air, gathered up their gloves and sticks, and the game resumed.

One minute later, Alina Muller scored to send the series back to Boston.

The crowd was eager to see the home team claim the new trophy, named for league benefactor and Los Angeles Dodgers owner Mark Walter, chanting “We want the Cup!” just like Bruins fans do down in Boston. A Fenway-style “Sweet Caroline” singalong kept them busy during the second break.

But with the game scoreless early in the second, Minnesota forward Sydney Brodt skated through the slot toward the goal. She whiffed on a wrist shot, drawing Frankel out of position, then slid around to the right side and centered the puck behind her, where Schepers tipped it in.

It was still 1-0 when Cava circled behind the net and stuffed the puck between Frankel’s pads; it trickled toward the net before the goalie knocked it over the line when she reached back to save it with her stick hand.

The game was a crowd-pleasing conclusion to the six-team league’s first season, when it blew through some benchmarks but left others unmet.

A game in Montreal against Toronto drew more than 21,000 fans to the Bell Centre. Average attendance in the regular season was 5,448, giving the league confidence to expand the schedule from 24 games to 30 next year. Toronto is looking for a bigger home than the 2,500-seat arena where it played most of its games.

One negative was below-average attendance for the New York team, which split its home between Connecticut, Long Island and New Jersey. Games were broadcast nationally in English and French in Canada, but U.S. fans were left with regional networks and YouTube.

And the teams don’t have nicknames yet — a result of the rush to get on the ice in six months after the two competing pro women’s hockey leagues in North America declared a truce, with help from Walter and tennis great Billie Jean King, last summer. The league said on Wednesday that names and logos will be announced in August.

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AP women’s hockey: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-hockey

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