Mid-week takeaways from PWHPA Calgary Dream Gap Tour

Credit: PWHPA / Dave Holland

The final stop of PWHPA’s 2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour started on Monday, May 24. After three action-packed games, each team from the Canadian hubs have been able to play each other at least once. There were countless exciting moments, and the four three games have provided some insight into what to watch for throughout the rest of the tournament, which continues this week and ends on Sunday. Here are some takeaways for each team so far. 

Team Sonnet (Toronto)

PWHPA / Heather Pollock

Team Sonnet played in the first game of this showcase, but they came up short with a 3-2 loss to Team Bauer. Although they were unable to take the first win, the teams were both evenly matched and the game was a close one. Team Sonnet’s Ella Shelton scored the first goal of the tournament, giving her team the only goal in the first period. Team Bauer scored three goals throughout the second and the third period, giving them the lead. Natalie Spooner scored Toronto’s second goal of the game, but with only three seconds left in the third period the team was unable to tie it up.

The Toronto players’ physicality was evident in their debut game against Montreal. Renata Fast was sent to the penalty box 3 times for interference in the team’s first game. Fast currently leads the league in penalty minutes with 6 minutes, which demonstrates the tenacity and intensity she brings to Team Sonnet. 

Team Sonnet played again on May 26 against Calgary’s Team Scotiabank, and they took it as an opportunity to prove their offensive strength. Toronto opened up the scoring in the first period, with a goal from Jamie Lee Rattray, and it didn’t end there. In the first period alone, Team Sonnet scored four additional goals. This game was much more successful for Team Sonnet.

The Toronto region has a number of goal scorers that have stood out in the games so far. In addition to Rattray, who posted two goals in one period against Calgary, Brittany Howard achieved a hat trick in the same game. With an 8-3 win over Calgary, Team Sonnet has the offensive punch they need to make a run at the final. 

Team Scotiabank (Calgary)

Team Scotiabank forward Blayre Turnbull (40) during the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) Secret Dream Gap Tour at the Seven Chiefs Arena on the Tsuut’ina Nation on May 25, 2021. (Photo: Dave Holland/PWHPA)

Although Calgary had a slow start in their first game with a 6-1 loss to Montreal, they seemed to hit their stride more in the final two periods of their game against Team Sonnet. Although they conceded five goals to Toronto in the first period, Team Scotiabank upped their defence and limited Team Sonnet to scoring three more goals in the rest of the game.

Team Scotiabank has been extremely physical so far, and although it shows their determination and perseverance, it is also one of the reasons they are struggling in the offensive end. In their game against Team Sonnet, the Calgary players tallied eight penalties total. Of those eight penalties, Team Sonnet only scored one power play goal due to Team Scotiabank’s strong penalty kill. However, reducing the amount of penalties and the amount of time they play shorthanded could allow Calgary to focus more on offence, and increase the number of scoring opportunities they have. 

Team Scotiabank consists of a number of talented players, including Sarah Potomak, who has been a standout forward. Potomak scored one goal in each of the games she played so far, and her quick passing and strong shot are big advantages to Team Scotiabank. Blayre Turnbull is also a powerful force for the team, posting one goal so far and receiving the third star in her team’s loss against Team Sonnet. 

If Team Scotiabank can start their next few games stronger offensively, and maintain a close score throughout, they could make a big comeback and win the championship on Sunday. 

Team Bauer (Montreal) 

PWHPA / Dave Holland

Although they have only played two games, Team Bauer appears to be the favourite to win the championship so far. The players from Montreal have scored nine goals in only two games, which demonstrates their offensive dominance throughout this tournament. 

One of Team Bauer’s strongest assets on the ice is their goaltending. Both Montreal goalies, Ann-Renee Desbiens and Emerance Maschmeyer, have taken a turn representing their team in net, and they have both posted impressive statistics from each game. Desbiens played in the team’s debut game against Team Sonnet, when she saved 40 out of the 42 shots she faced. Maschmeyer displayed her skill in the game against Team Scotiabank, when she let in just one goal out of 30 shots.

If their goaltending stays this strong, the other teams will struggle to catch up to Team Bauer in the standings.

Another player who cannot be ignored is olympian Marie-Philip Poulin. Poulin has demonstrated her incredible puck-handling skills in the two games she has played, which is reflected in the five points she posted in two games. With two goals and three assists, Poulin currently leads all Canadian players in points. Her presence on the ice is hard to miss, and whenever she is on the ice it is safe to expect a scoring chance or two. As an experienced player, Poulin is an important asset to her team, and she will play a huge part in their run at the championship title. 

Team Bauer capitalizes on each scoring opportunity they create, and their goaltenders are dependable in their own zone. The games they have played so far have been exhilarating to watch, and if they continue to create so many offensive chances, they are sure to make it to the championship game. 

The final three games can be watched on Sportsnet and streamed on Sportsnet Now. 

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