If you watched the last U.S.- based leg of the Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association’s Dream Gap Tour in St. Louis, Missouri, then #27 for Team Adidas’s on-ice performance may have caught your eye. Annie Pankowski, the high-energy forward for the point-leading Minnesota Hub earned the first star of the game in Game 2 — but between you and me, Pankowski deserved a star for the whole stop.
The St. Louis Blues hosted Team Women’s Sports Foundation and Team Adidas for the final U.S. stop in the 2021 PWHPA Dream Gap Tour over a two-day stretch of competitive games held on May 16th and May 17th. In Game 1 of the St. Louis showcase, Pankowski shone under-the-radar for Team Adidas by doing what she does best — getting into the corners and generating offensive potential for her team.
Pankowski ended the weekend as the Tour leader in penalty minutes, a statistic bolstered after a Game 1 that saw Pankowski called for roughing and boosting her team’s momentum, leading them to a 3 – 1 win. While Pankowski didn’t notch a point herself in Game 1, her electric pace and aggressive puck play created offensive opportunities for her teammates, setting the stage for Team Adidas’s first win in Missouri.
Team Adidas has been the undisputed champ of the U.S. Tour, with 13 overall points to Team Women’s Sports Foundation’s 2. Players like Pankowski in the line-up are part of the Minnesota Hub’s winning formula, and Game 2 of the St. Louis weekend is a perfect example of how invaluable Pankowski is to the Team Adidas roster.
The final game for Team Adidas in St. Louis was the most explosive performance we’d seen from Pankowski yet. After snagging both a goal and an assist, Pankwoski was named the game’s (well-deserved) first star.
In the first period of Game 2 at the St. Louis Blues’ Enterprise Center, teammate Brianna Decker forced a turnover in the Team Adidas zone, allowing for the team to then bring the puck into the offensive zone. Before Pankowski could get a stick on it, the puck got lost behind the net, leading to a scramble for control. While the struggle behind the net continued, head up, Pankowski found the open slot on the left side of the net, ready for when Samantha Donovan slid it right to her. Pankowski hit a perfect one-timer, straight over the glove hand of Katie Burt (Team WSF) and into the right side of the net.
The hallmark of Team Adidas’s performance in St. Louis was their consistent and smooth puck control around the net in the offensive zone, and their ability to find the open spaces in front of the net. Pankowski’s top-shelf goal was the picture-perfect example of those strengths.
As beautiful as that goal was, Pankowski was on a roll. In the 3rd period she came in clutch for Team Adidas – down a goal, Team Adidas was looking for the equalizer. Pankowski and Abby Roque put their sticks together to tie the game with 18:09 left in the period. Team Adidas won the face-off in their own zone and then sped out into Team Women’s Sports Foundation’s zone, culminating in a 2-on-3 and shot on goal that almost snaked past Burt. Keeping on the puck, Pankowski wrangled the rebound but couldn’t find a good position to shoot; instead, she cycled back out towards the blue line and sent it straight to Abby Roque, who tapped it in for the tying goal.
Pankowski’s ability to generate solid scoring chances shone in her assist on Roque’s goal. Team Adidas would eventually end the night with a 4-2 win over the New Hampshire Hub, buoyed off the momentum of Pankowski and Roque’s goal. Due to Pankowski’s star-worthy show, Team Adidas completed the sweep of the St. Louis weekend.
Anne Pankowski’s quick on-ice reactions to snag rebounds and stray pucks, her active engagement in unfolding plays, and (yes) her leading PIMs all make her presence in Team Adidas’ line-up an essential one. While the next PWHPA installment will be with the Canadian hubs, Anne Pankowski’s performance in St. Louis will remain on our replay reels until we see her hit the ice next.