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PWHL: Minnesota ties semifinal series in double OT

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PWHL: Minnesota ties semifinal series in double OT


The first three games of Minnesota’s best-of-five Professional Women’s Hockey League semifinal playoff series against Toronto featured a shutout, with Toronto winning the first two games and Minnesota the third.

The pattern continued Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center, but this time it took two overtimes to declare a winner.

Minnesota’s Claire Botorac scored at 4:27 of the second overtime as Minnesota beat Toronto, 1-0.

Butorac banged in the rebound of a shot from the point that caromed into the slot off the back boards.

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Minnesota’s win sets up a deciding Game 5 on Friday night at Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto. The eventual series winner will play Boston in a best-of-five series for the inaugural PWHL championship.

“Honestly, my linemates did most of the work,” Butorac said of the winning goal. “I got in on the good change from the line before us, and I picked up that rebound in the front of the net.

“We knew it was going to be a dirty goal. Just happy to finish.”

Minnesota coach Ken Klee commended his team for finding a way to tie the series after losing the first two games and facing elimination.

“When you’re season’s on the line and you’re back at home, that’s a good feeling,” Klee said. “You can take it as pressure or, hey, we’ve played well at home all year. I think breaking through in Game 3 was good for our confidence and being excited to play hockey, knowing we can win games.

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“Tonight, I loved our first period, I loved our third period. They took it to us a little in the second, which you’re going to expect. They’re a good team. But I’m super proud of our team. Even when we gave up chances we kept going, we stayed positive.”

Toronto played without Natalie Spooner, the league’s leading scorer, who sustained a knee injury in Game 3. Spooner will miss the remainder of the postseason.

Toronto’s offense definitely was limited. It managed only 11 shots on goal through three periods, while Minnesota had 23.

Neither team was able to produce much offense in a scoreless first period, with Minnesota holding a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. Minnesota had the two best scoring chances of the period, and they came from its top line.

Grace Zumwinkle fired a slap shot from the top of the right-wing circle at 11:39 that got through Toronto goaltender Kristen Campbell, but the puck slid just wide of the far post. With just over four minutes to play in the period, Campbell made a good stop on a shot from in tight by Taylor Heise.

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Toronto put on some offensive pressure early in the second period and came close to taking the lead when Hannah Miller’s shot from the slot hit the outside of the left post.

Minnesota went on the first power play of the game at 3:22 of the period, but it lasted only 55 seconds, when Denisa Krizova was sent off for tripping.

It proved to be another period dominated by tight checking. Toronto had six shots on goal in the period, Minnesota four.

Minnesota got another power-play opportunity at 6:57 of the third period, but it was Toronto that got the best scoring opportunity. Minnesota goaltender Maddie Rooney made a clutch left pad save to deny Kaitlin Willoughby from in tight.

Minnesota defender Sophie Jaques got a good scoring chance 13 minutes into the period, but Campbell stopped her with a glove save on a rising shot.

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Minnesota outshot Toronto 14-2 in the third period.



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Minnesota United FC loon plate likely ready in fall

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Minnesota United FC loon plate likely ready in fall


For Minnesota soccer fans waiting their turn for a specialty sports plate, the time is almost here.

The Minnesota United FC loon plate will likely be ready for drivers Oct. 1, said Greg Loper, the vehicle services program director of the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services.

What’s it going to look like? Well, “there are going to be letters and there are going to be numbers,” he said.

The design isn’t finalized just yet, but it’s a good bet there will be a common loon on it. The plates will help raise money for the Minnesota Loon Restoration Project from the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

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The Major League Soccer team’s plate joins five other sports team plates, which have been available since January: the Vikings, Lynx, Timberwolves, Twins and Wild. And it joins a growing rolodex of specialty plates. Currently, there are 114 specialty plates on the market, according to DVS.

The influx of specialty plate proposals in recent years has been a sore spot for some lawmakers. In Minnesota, it takes legislation for specialty plates to get approved. That’s part of the reason the MNUFC plate was delayed.

A previous law for sports plates said plate-owners must make an annual contribution to the team’s foundation, but MNUFC doesn’t have a foundation. It took revised language in a law for the Loons to have the go-ahead.

State Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL Minneapolis, serves as the transportation committee chair and said that particular tweak wasn’t too much of a hassle, but he’s growing increasingly tired of the process tied to each specialty plate. So much so that he authored a bill creating a committee to explore an administrative process away from the Capitol. The special license plate review committee will start up in 2025.

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“It grew out of my frustration with being confronted with several dozen requests — and these all come as separate bills that take time in the committee hearing process,” Dibble said. “We have much bigger issues that we have to spend time on without having all of our time seized up by all these minor issues of these specialty license plates … we need as much time as we can possibly get. Our committees usually go late. We usually have to put in extra hearings to get all the work done.”

He’s also concerned with plates becoming “politically supercharged” and divisive, he said. He brought up the example of anti-abortion advocates wanting a plate, which would direct money to anti-abortion organizations. That’s not something he wants to have to settle.

“Other states have handled this whole process more efficiently and much better, so we’re going to just take a look at what’s going on around the country and see if there’s a better idea,” he said.

As transportation chair, he’s been vocal about trying to keep specialty plates out, he said — partially because he’s concerned the increased plate variety makes it harder to identify cars.

“But last cycle, a couple of them got through,” he said. “Including the Vikings.”

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Despite Dibble’s qualms, there’s no denying specialty plates have been popular on the roads. Since January, the DVS has offered five Minnesota sports teams plates, costing drivers $15.50, plus an annual donation. The Vikings plate is the bestseller, with 2,623 sold, according to the DVS.

That’s followed by Wild plates, with 1,144 sold, then plates for the Twins (1,026), Timberwolves (605) and Lynx (56). To keep the plate, those with sports plates have to make an annual $30 donation to each team’s corresponding foundation — or, rather, philanthropy account, since that law was adjusted.

“I think you’re going to see [sports team plates] becoming a part of our culture,” said Loper, with DVS. “And I smile every time I think that the Minnesota United plate is going to support the Loon Restoration Project. If there’s one thing that’s more iconic than our standard blue and white license plate in Minnesota, it’s the call of a loon.”

The Minnesota United $30 donation to the Loon Restoration Project will go toward reducing loon mortality and exposure to lead-based fishing tackle, as well as protecting nesting habitat.

Other specialty plates that hit the market earlier this year are the blackout plate and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Office plate.

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As of May 22, 87,990 blackout plates have been sold, according to Loper. Those are paired with an annual $30 contribution to support DVS operations.

So far, 1,254 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Office plates have been sold. An annual $25 contribution accompanying those plates benefit the Gaagige-Mikwendaagoziwag Reward Account to bring attention to cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people and educate the public.

Loper said that if the Timberwolves continue to do well in the playoffs — “I’m not going to say anything about winning things that involve rings because I don’t want to jinx it” — DVS will be ready. Plates are printed on demand.

As for his favorite, it will always be the classic blue and white plate, he said. Sliver of green on top.

“It’s just something that screams Minnesota to me,” Loper said. “I’ve had one as long as I can remember.”

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Several bills left unfinished after 2024 MN legislative session ends

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Several bills left unfinished after 2024 MN legislative session ends


ST. PAUL, Minn. (GRAY) – On Sunday night, the 93rd Minnesota Legislature adjourned for the final time. The legislature ended in chaotic fashion, as DFLers brought the gavel down to pass bills before adjourning Sunday.

Several bills did not make it across the desk before the midnight deadline, including a bonding bill, a sports betting bill, and a bill to put an Equal Rights Amendment on the State Constitution.

Bonding discussions fell apart due to partisan tension on the final day of the session. While a fully funded infrastructure package was unlikely to pass, a smaller cash bill had the votes needed to get through both the house and senate. The bill did not pass the senate in time for the midnight deadline, missing it by a matter of seconds. Republicans pinned the lack of a deal on poor time management from the DFL.

“There was a provision in the cash bonding bill that failed by 30 seconds in the Democrat majority senate,” said House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring).

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DFLers, however, said the deal fell apart due to Republican filibustering.

“If you follow the rules, that can’t pass midnight, there was one member who was loud and interruptive. And so, we lost a bonding bill for the people of Minnesota as a result,” said Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul).

Reportedly, a sports betting deal was in the works just hours before midnight, but House author Zach Stephenson said in a post online that they ran out of time.

An Equal Rights Amendment was also just a few hours of debate away from potential passage in the Senate. For months, the House and Senate had been working to come to an agreement on language in the bill, and by the final weekend, there was optimism the two caucuses were on the same page.

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“I believe that the Senate did have the votes. That was my condition for taking up on the [House] floor and spending the 15 hours that we did, was I had to have a pretty good sense that the senate would be able to take it up and pass it,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park).

Hortman believes that the bill simply ran out of time, again blaming the Republican filibuster.

“Part of what happened this week, it deprived the senate of the opportunity, the time to have that conversation,” she said.

Republicans said too much time was lost in the final weekend negotiating a rideshare deal, one which was sent off to the governor’s desk in time for the end of the session.

Governor Walz said on Monday that he’s happy with the work that came out of the 2024 session and does not plan on calling a special session this year.

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Minnesota Twins homestand highlights: May 24-30

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Minnesota Twins homestand highlights: May 24-30


MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) – This week, the Minnesota Twins return to Target Field for their fifth homestand of the season.

This seven-game, Memorial Day weekend, stay will face off against the reigning World Series champion, the Texas Rangers and the American League Central division foe, the Kansas City Royals.

Friday, May 24 vs. Texas Rangers (6:10 p.m.; gates open at 4:30 p.m.)

Star Wars Night: Join your favorite characters from a galaxy far, far away on Star Wars Night! This theme night package will receive tickets to the game and an exclusive co-branded Star Wars/Twins Dark side vs. Light side button-up shirt.

Gate Giveaway: The first 5,000 fans through the gates on Friday will receive a Star Wars Reversible Bucket Hat.

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American Legion Day: This Memorial Day Weekend, the Twins will honor those who have served and will welcome members of the American Legion to Target Field on Friday night. The night includes first pitches from Pam Krill (Membership Director of the American Legion Department of Minnesota) and Paul Hassing (Commander of the American Legion Department of Minnesota). “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” will be led by George Hunt, commander of the American Legion Post 630 in Brooklyn Center, MN.

Saturday, May 25 vs. Texas Rangers (1:10 p.m.; gates open at 11:00 a.m.)

Be the Change Ceremonial First Pitch: In response to the events that followed the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, John Baker founded Be the Change to support youth-oriented nonprofits and foster connections between corporations and communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul. He will throw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to Saturday’s game against the Rangers.

612 Saturday presented by Carbliss and Bally Sports North: From 11:00 a.m. until first pitch, fans can enjoy $6 drink specials, $1 snacks and $2 food specials, while receiving the Twins’ best gate giveaways.

Gate Giveaway: The first 10,000 fans through the gates on Saturday will receive an exclusive, unique light-up Jhoan Duran Bobblehead that is based on the flamethrowing closer’s iconic entrance.

Bowlers’ Day: Fans who purchase this group event package will receive a ticket to the game and a Twins Bowling Shirt. The day will also include a ceremonial first pitch thrown out by a member of the Minnesota bowling community.

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Twins Camps Champions Day Recognition: Last year marked the seventh year of Minnesota Twins Camps. Over 1,300 young athletes attended the weeklong camps held throughout Minnesota, including a skills competition with the finals at Target Field. The 2023 skills competition top three finishers in baseball and softball will be recognized on the field prior to the game.

Sunday, May 26 vs. Texas Rangers (1:10 p.m.; gates open at 11:00 a.m.)

Pablo Day: Fans who purchase this special theme ticket package – available for all of Pablo’s Target Field starts from May through September – will receive a ticket to the game and a special Pablo-themed jersey. A portion of the proceeds from each package sold will benefit local nonprofits Children’s Minnesota, Project Success and Ruff Start Rescue. Pablo Day ticket package purchasers will all be seated in the same area on Pablo Day (section 101).

USTA Day: The Twins will welcome a group from the United States Tennis Association on Sunday, including a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Jon Rydberg, an accomplished international wheelchair tennis player from Pine City, MN.

Kids Day: Every Sunday home game at Target Field is Kids Day! Kids meals are half priced at select concession stands, a member of the T.C. Sluggers Kids Club will throw the ceremonial first pitch, nine lucky kids will take the field with the Twins before the top of the first inning as part of a special Kids Starting Lineup. Families can enjoy all the fun of Bullseye’s Backyard that features interactive activities including Big Catch, Run the Bases, and a coloring mural to let kids of all ages leave their mark on Target Field. Kids can print their own baseball cards, win ticket upgrades, get a custom screen-printed bag or bandanna and even the chance to be selected as the Target Ball Kid for a game.

Monday, May 27 vs. Kansas City Royals (1:10 p.m.; gates open at 11:00 a.m.)

Memorial Day: The Twins join the rest of Major League Baseball in observance of Memorial Day and in honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Play of Monday’s game will pause for a moment of silence at approximately 3:00 p.m. CT, to mark the National Moment of Remembrance.

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Ceremonial First Pitch: A ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by Logan Stroeing on behalf of NubAbility Athletics, an organization whose mission is to encourage, inspire and instruct limb different youth by getting them out of the stands and into mainstream sports. Logan was born with multiple congenital limb differences and often participates in NubAbility-led activities, including working with the Twins on a baseball/softball camp for youth with limb differences.

Welcome back, Tyler Duffey!: The Twins will pay tribute to current Royals reliever and former Twin Tyler Duffey before the game. A fifth-round selection by Minnesota in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Duffey made his major league debut for the Twins in 2015 and spent the first eight seasons of his career with the club.

Tuesday, May 28 vs. Kansas City Royals (6:40 p.m.; gates open at 5:30 p.m.)

Cirque du Soleil Ceremonial First Pitch: For the first time in more than a decade, Cirque du Soleil has returned to the Twin Cities under its renowned Big Top with BAZZAR, an eclectic homage to the origins and ongoing legacy of the world-famous circus company. Prior to Tuesday’s game, performers from BAZZAR will throw out a ceremonial first pitch in a uniquely Cirque du Soleil way!

Wednesday, May 29 vs. Kansas City Royals (6:40 p.m.; gates open at 5:30 p.m.)

Daily Ticket Specials: Fans can take advantage of the All You Can Eat Legends Landing, Military Discount and TickPick Family Section.

Thursday, May 30 vs. Kansas City Royals (12:10 p.m.; gates open at 10:30 a.m.)

Postgame – High School Dreams: After the conclusion of the Twins-Royals game, Target Field will host the sixth and final regular season high school baseball game, this time featuring an all-Iowa matchup of Kee (Lansing, IA) vs. South Winneshiek (Calmar, IA).

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  • TickPick Family Sections – Tickets in the alcohol-free family section include a FREE hot dog and Pepsi (available at the Mill City Grill near section 311).
  • All You Can Eat Legends Landing – Get access to bottomless food and drinks plus a great view of the diamond and Minneapolis skyline with a ticket in sections S-V.
  • Student Discount (Monday-Thursday) – Ballpark Access tickets are just $5 for students. Tickets are available via mobile delivery; plus, students can download a free Metro Transit ride pass.
  • Military Discount (Monday-Thursday) – Active military members or veterans with a valid ID, up to three additional guests can receive half-price Diamond Box High or Home Plate View tickets.
  • Treasure Island Resort & Casino Senior Days (Weekday games) – Fans 55-and-older can receive a $5 discount on Field Box, Treasure Island Cove, and Left Field Bleacher tickets.
  • Dollar Dog (Tuesdays) – Every Tuesday, hot dogs are just $1 at the Hennepin Grille and Taste of Twins Territory concession stand.
  • Kids Day (Sundays) – U.S. Bank kids’ meals are 50% off. Postgame, kids are welcome to live out some big-league dreams by running the bases.

Season, group, and single-game tickets for the Twins’ 2024 regular season home schedule at Target Field are available online, by calling (612) 33-TWINS or 1-800-33-TWINS, or in-person at the Target Field Ticket Office.

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