The Dream Gap tour returned with a flourish on Saturday.
After nearly 12 months of inactivity, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association’s showcase series kicked off its second year as Team Minnesota defeated Team New Hampshire 5-2, in Somerset, N.J.
Made up primarily of Canadian and U.S. talent, the teams got the action started in the second period after a slow opening frame.
Hayley Scammura was the first to break the ice, streaking down the wing before pulling the puck back onto her backhand to beat Minnesota goalie Nicole Hensley to give New Hampshire a 1-0 lead.
But, with 20 seconds to go in the second, Savanah Harmon, with an assist from Abby Roque pulled Minnesota level with a wrister from the slot.
The floodgates then opened, with Roque leading the charge.
After feeding Winnipeg’s Ryleigh Houston for her second helper of the night, Roque would pot two of her own.
Her second, courtesy of a nigh impossible-to-stop wrister that befuddled New Hampshire goalie Katie Burt as it sailed top shelf from a tight angle.
Minnesota’s fifth of the night came courtesy of Kendall Coyne Schofield, before Gigi Marvin finally added New Hampshire’s second to close out the festivities at 5-2.
Featuring a unique scoring system, this year’s edition of the Dream Gap Tour, awards two points for a win, one for a win in OT and half a point for an OT or shootout loss. Emphasis is also being placed on hat tricks, shorthanded goals, shutouts and an additional point for teams that score five or more goals.
Historic night ahead
Saturday’s game was the first of two, with both teams set to return on Sunday for the second of their back-to-back series.
Except, this time, they will be playing at Madison Square Gardens – a historic first for professional women’s hockey and its goal of creating a viable women’s pro league.
Currently training out of five hubs: Minnesota, New Hampshire, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal the PWHPA was formed after the collapse of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2019.
While pandemic-related restrictions have kept players living north of the border out of action, the PWPHA is pushing ahead with its Dream Gap Tour with its two U.S. based teams for now.
In addition to the New York Rangers, other NHL teams have already stepped up to help, including The Chicago Blackhawks which will host the next showcase event in March.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have also issued their support, and plan on hosting a Dream Gap Tour stop once Canada’s COVID restrictions are lifted.
CBC Sports will be live streaming all games not being broadcast on TV by the NHL Network or Sportsnet.