On Wednesday last week (of course), the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association announced the first dates in a series of tournaments they are calling the Dream Gap Tour, as well as a couple of other exhibition games.
We don’t have full details yet, but the tour kicks off in Toronto so here’s what we know about that so far:
When: September 21-22
Where: Westwood Arena, Etobicoke ON
What: Four teams of PWHPA players (Toronto, Markham, Calgary, and Montréal) will face off in a three-game round-robin tournament, followed by a fourth “championship game”. The weekend will also include community outreach events, clinics and a VIP Kickoff Party on the Saturday
Who: Rosters have yet to be finalized but expect to see players like Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Nurse, Natalie Spooner, Victoria Bach, Hilary Knight, and Brianne Jenner. [UPDATE: Rosters for the four teams can be found here]
Streaming: According to the press release, Budweiser will be sponsoring streaming, available through www.PWHPA.com before each game.
Tickets: Individual game tickets or a weekend pass are available here. You can also purchase a “virtual ticket” at the link to help support sending girls’ hockey players to the event.
And yes, if you’re interested in some sort of PPP meetup during the weekend, comment below and we’ll try and work something out.
The “Dream Gap Tour” is so named because the PWHPA is looking to both highlight and close the gap between what boys’ hockey players and girls’ hockey players can aspire to. The goal is to show girls’ hockey players the level of hockey that is currently achievable, while building support for a league where both a higher level of hockey and a sustainable professional hockey career can become possible.
Other tournaments are set for Hudson, New Hampshire (October 4-6, Cyclones Arena) and Chicago, Illinois (October 18-20, Fifth Third Arena) and will feature a different mix of teams for each stop. Buffalo, Southern California, and Montréal have all been mentioned as potential future locations.
It has been mentioned that the New Hampshire tournament “conflicts” with the NWHL’s opening weekend, but the weekend of October 5-6 is, and has traditionally been, the IIHF Girls Hockey Weekend, so it’s only natural that both organizations would take advantage of the tie-in.
There are also two exhibition games set so far—against Boston College at Conte Forum on September 21, and as part of the San Jose Sharks Fan Fest against a team of Sharks alumni on September 22.
As far as building support, the PWHPA has already attracted a couple of major sponsors:
- Adidas, who you may remember signed all four women’s hockey players who participated in the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills Competition (Kendall Coyne Schofield, Rebecca Johnston, Renata Fast, Brianna Decker) to endorsement deals that weekend.
- Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, who are sponsoring the Toronto date, as well as funding the PWHPA’s regular ice rentals for their members in Calgary, Montréal, and two rinks in Toronto. (The PWHPA is providing twice-weekly ice time to their players in eight areas, which is equivalent to what most CWHL teams had during the season.)
- Billie Jean King Enterprises. The tennis legend’s company is “providing guidance and leadership”, and King herself has been vocal in her support on twitter, which surely provides some extra publicity.
Hockey Canada has also stepped up to support, not only by providing extra ice time and skill sessions to the Canadian national team players, but by ensuring that extra camps they are planning to schedule in Calgary, Montréal, and Toronto later this winter will be scheduled during the week and thus will not conflict with any PWHPA weekend tournaments.
Beyond the PWHPA events, there’s the 4 Nations Cup in Sweden in November, and we’ll get to see another Canada vs USA exhibition series in December, with details yet to be announced. It’s an exciting time for women’s hockey, and it looks like there will be lots of opportunities to see the best of the best on the ice this season!
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