Two weeks ago, Nafio attended the Toronto stop of the Dream Gap Tour, the first of a series of women’s hockey tournaments hosted by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association as a way to showcase their talents and draw attention to their goal of forming one sustainable women’s hockey league in North America.

WHW: Launching the Dream Gap Tour

While I was not able to make the Toronto stop, a deep and true tragedy as there are few things I miss the way I miss watching Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse play together, the second Dream Gap Tour event—the Dunkin Showcase, held approximately an hour north of Boston in Hudson, New Hampshire—was more achievable. Hudson made no sense at all as a location until I learned that the rink is owned by US women’s national team player Kali Flanagan’s dad (the multiple banners congratulating her on Olympic gold were extremely charming). Between that and the entire USPHL team working as volunteers—shouts to the Northern Cyclones, who were very helpful in telling me where to park—the atmosphere was more on par with a CWHL or NWHL game than a slickly packaged event like the US-Canada pre-Olympic tour that swung through Boston in 2017. As far as crowd experience went, it did remind me a lot of the CWHL, down to the autograph sessions that were hosted after games.

But Annie, I’m sure you’re wondering, how was the hockey? The hockey, just like what we saw in Toronto, was fast, high-energy, and high-scoring. The first game, a matchup between Team Flanagan and Team Stecklein, was dominated by Team Stecklein. Hayley Scamurra especially showed exactly how she played her way onto the US national team as a member of the Buffalo Beauts—she was a blast to watch, and her first goal was a jaw-dropping move on Katie Burt worthy of highlight-reel status.

Game Two, though, was the one that had put me in the car and sent me across state lines to sit on metal bleachers for four hours watching hockey. Team Knight was essentially last year’s Montreal Canadiennes, and I was delighted to have a guilt-free opportunity to cheer for that roster. An unexpected surprise was the presence of Team Canada head coach Perry Pearn behind Team Knight’s bench; he served as an assistant to head coach Caroline Ouellette, his Team Canada assistant coach, and I’m pleased by the show of open support from a Team Canada official for the PWHPA. Team Lamoureux was extremely fun too, with not only the Lam twins, but Dani Cameranesi at forward and Alex Cavallini (formerly Rigsby) in goal. As is standard for the Lams, Monique got into it with Mélodie Daoust in the first period and set the chippy tone for the rest of the game. At one point, Jocelyne hammered a shot on Lacasse after the whistle, and half my section gasped like scandalized TV matriarchs.

Of course, there was plenty to stare at from national team players like Marie-Philip Poulin, who, immediately after Megan Myers scored for Team Lamoureux, stole the puck and created herself a breakaway as if to remind everyone watching that she is the best in the world. Jill Saulnier, who has rockets on her skates and always seems to make her way into my notes with little hearts around her name, had the first two goals for Team Knight, and Hannah Brandt’s setup on Team Stecklein’s opening goal was a stunner. Still, women’s hockey has a tremendous amount of depth beyond the few marquee names that make national news coverage, and this tournament showcased a lot of it. A couple examples:

  • Erin Kickham, formerly of the Boston Blades, scored Team Flanagan’s first goal (it’s possible that the shot was tipped by her fellow former Blade, Kaitlin Spurling, but the rink announcer and the PWHPA twitter credited Kickham).
  • Team Stecklein’s Bailey Larson, a recent graduate from Colgate, had a great breakaway and blasted a shot right from the slot and past Katie Burt. /
  • While Hannah Brandt had the setup on Team Stecklein’s first goal, it was finished off by a perfectly placed Paige Voight./
  • Team Lamoureux defender Blake Bolden is a longtime favorite player of mine, and she didn’t disappoint—it was her slapshot that led to the rebound and scramble in Geneviève Lacasse’s crease that ended with Myers scoring.
  • Melanie Desrochers gave Team Knight the two-goal lead they held until the end of the game by putting a shot from the half boards past Cavallini. /

This is only some of what made it into my notes, too!

It was very crowded in the bleachers (belated apology to the lady I kept poking in the shoulder with my clipboard!) and while not the coldest women’s hockey game I’ve ever attended—that honor goes to the Blades game where the players’ water bottles froze on the bench, just in case anyone was wondering why the players are organizing in the first place—I did find myself wishing I’d worn long underwear and heavy socks. By far the most annoying element of game ops, though, was the repeating numbers. There were a lot—and I mean a lot—of doubled numbers on players’ jerseys, and three #13s on Team Stecklein (Ellie DeCaprio, Shea Labbe, and Annika Zalewski). To be fair, this would probably have bothered a casual fan far less than it bothered me, a person trying to take notes about gameplay, but I mixed up Alyssa Gagliardi and Lee Stecklein (both wearing #2) at one point, and Stecklein is a full eight inches taller.

Still, the point of the showcase wasn’t detailed scorekeeping, as much as I have terribly missed writing about the game of hockey; it was, as the players have said in so many interviews, to try and build something for the next generation. The stands were full of girls’ hockey teams from around New England. I saw Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont represented, and ages from young elementary school to teenagers with braces. Those kids were clearly thrilled to see their heroes—one of them brought a sign with Poulin and Knight on it, and got a tap on the glass and a wink from Pou in return—but these kids appreciated that this wasn’t just entertainment. One section over from me, a girl was holding up a handwritten sign: “We are here for you because you are here for us.”

I wasn’t able to make it up for the second day of games, but fortunately for us all, the CBC was streaming and has all four games archived on Youtube.  If you’ve missed hockey the way I have over the chaos of this offseason, it’s the perfect remedy.


Column: Our movement to inspire, create opportunities for girls in hockey | Opinion |
Four years ago, I stepped onto the Merrimack College campus for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — an opportunity to be a part of a brand new program that would enter the NCAA Division I ranks for the very first time my freshman year.

Future of pro women’s hockey in North America unclear after summer turmoil - The Daily Orange - The Independent Student Newspaper of Syracuse, New York
Megan Quinn’s phone was buzzing. She left a meeting on Sunday, March 31, to find more than 100 messages in her Toronto Furies’ group chat.

Women’s hockey association hoping to put pay gap on ice - The Boston Globe
The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, making a stop this weekend on its barnstorming tour in Hudson, N.H., is focused on finances.

Women’s hockey landscape has full attention of young players - The Hour
Dozens of young women trekked to Lake Placid recently to play, with many hoping it is a steppingstone to something greater: Playing in college, perhaps, maybe the Olympics or world championships, and more than a few harbor dreams of making a living at hockey. A career.

Hockey féminin: des joueuses loin d’être inactives - TVA Sports
Même s’il n’y a plus de ligue professionnelle de hockey féminin, les joueuses québécoises et canadiennes n’ont pas arrêté de patiner.

Recapping ‘Battle of the Blades’ third episode - The Ice Garden
A little bit country, a little bit ... no, it was completely country

International hockey

IIHF - Granato still growing the game
U.S. legend discusses women’s pro hockey, Knight’s bid to beat her records, and more

Meghan Duggan, following a trailblazer’s path, plans post-pregnancy return to U.S. hockey team – OlympicTalk
Meghan Duggan, the U.S. Olympic champion team captain, is due with her first child in February.

Life is a juggling act for Olympic medal winner Colleen Sostorics | News | University of Calgary
Former Dino is new inductee into Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame

Hockey Canada Shares Short-Term Plans, Long-Term Support
On October 2, Hockey Canada announced a five-year international marketing partnership with BFL Canada, focused on supporting women's hockey programming.

European club hockey

Behind the Glass: Stalder the Unstoppable - The Ice Garden
Lara Stalder now has eight goals in five games to start the 2019-20 SDHL season

The Nordic News: Sabbatical Over, Season On - The Ice Garden
It’s back, baby.

ZhHL (Russia) Tornado Moscow Oblast Look for Redemption in 2019-20 | CONWAY'S RUSSIAN HOCKEY BLOG
Tornado Moscow Oblast, based in the town of Dmitrov just north of Russia's capital, used to rule the roost in the Women's Hockey League; they have won nine titles since their founding in 2003, including six in seven seasons between 2011 and 2017.

SDHL (Sweden)

SDHL standings week 4

3Luleå / MSSK7714

SDHL: Seventh straight loss for Leksand | Aftonbladet
Today’s loss to Modo was the team’s seventh straight.

Peslarova hero when Modo won: “Best of the Series” | Aftonbladet
Brynäs has started SDHL with five straight wins.Tonight, the victory suite was broken against Modo, with a magnificent Klara Peslarova in goal.

Vote: Goal of the Week, Week 40 -
Ebba Berglund, Julie Zwarthoed and Emma Johansson are your nominees this week.


Polls: USCHO - USA Today - The Ice Garden

GOAL BY GOAL: BC Women’s Hockey’s Strong Start Continues With 6-0 Win Over Holy Cross - BC Interruption
Lots of great things to talk about tonight

John Harrington builds Minnesota State women's hockey program step by step -
The 1980 Olympic gold medalist and his Mavericks face a stiff challenge in the rugged WCHA.

Women’s hockey primer: Fourth-ranked Huskies set sights on Frozen Four - The Huntington News
Last year, the strong Husky performance was a combination of a talented returning core and standout performances by freshmen. This year, NU looks primed to repeat that same mold, setting them up as a strong national contender once again.

In early stages of repeat bid, Wisconsin Badgers women's hockey team expects energy, emotion in NCAA title banner ceremony | Wisconsin Badgers Hockey |
"I remember someone saying the only thing better than winning one," senior goaltender Kristen Campbell said, "is winning two."

After seizure in April, SCSU goalie back up to speed ... and at ease doing it | Brainerd Dispatch
Janine Alder made 49 saves for Switzerland in a loss to Team USA in the IIHF Women's World Hockey Championships on April 7. She got back to the hotel after the game and had a seizure, had to be put in an induced coma and caught pneumonia. Alder is back playing for the Huskies this fall after a trying offseason.

Five Minutes with Madeline Wethington - University of Minnesota Athletics
Freshman defense Madeline Wethington chats with the Voice of Gopher Women's Hockey Dan Hamann.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Veteran-laden Beavers eager to open season | Bemidji Pioneer
No reload was necessary for the Bemidji State women’s hockey team this offseason. Not for a team that returns 14 of its top 15 goal scorers.

U Sports

Two sides to U of S women’s hockey, a mix of experience and youth | Saskatoon StarPhoenix
University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team begins a new Canada West conference season Friday in Calgary against Mount Royal.

Donovan, X-Women ready to exorcise AUS final demons | Local-Sports | Sports | The Chronicle Herald
The past three seasons have left a bitter taste in the X-Women’s collective mouths.

AWIHL (Australia)

AWIHL partners with SportsLink Travel | Ice Hockey News Australia
The Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League have announced SportsLink Travel as their official travel partner for the 2019-20 season.


2019-20 NWHL Preview: Storylines to watch - The Ice Garden
What to keep an eye on as the season progresses

Hayley Moore named team President of NWHL’s Boston Pride - The Ice Garden
Former Pride GM becomes one of three women to be a team president of a major professional hockey team

NWHL Opens Fifth Season as Beauts, Pride Win
The NWHL kicked off its fifth season with wins for the Buffalo Beauts and the Boston Pride.