Montreal’s Team Bauer hoisted the Secret Dream Gap Tour Cup on Sunday night after Marie-Philip Poulin scored the decisive goal for her team.
The Canadian leg of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association Secret Dream Gap Tour took place this past week in Calgary, Alb. and featured games between Team Bauer, Toronto’s Team Sonnet, and Calgary’s Team Scotiabank.
Team Bauer was set for a tight game against Team Sonnet in the championship match at the Scotiabank Saddledome, as each team fought hard throughout the round robin play.
Toronto proved to be a worthy competitor, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game. However, Poulin’s goal in the third period secured the cup for Montreal, who won the game 4-2.
Hoisting the Cup meant so much more to the first star of the game, Poulin, than just the victory for her team. Playing the championship game in itself was massive for the entire league.
“People are probably asking, ‘What is the Secret Tour?’,” said the Quebec native. “For us, it is very special. Being here at the showcase, having three teams being able to compete against each other, it was more than that. It was more than competing. It was more than lifting that cup. It was for the next generation. For all of us. We want to show what we’re able to do, what we’re working for and we believe what we’re working for.”
Leading into the championship game, Team Bauer and Team Sonnet each had one win against the other in the round robin play, and each match ended with a one goal difference. After a week of hard-fought hockey, the Secret Cup could have gone to either team.
The tournament’s unique scoring system awards points for things like hat tricks, shutouts, and short-handed goals. So, although Montreal only won three of the six round robin games, they entered the championship match with nine points — Toronto had six and Calgary had two.
With competition so close between Team Bauer and Team Sonnet, and no clear favourite in the tour, Poulin went into the championship game knowing it would be tough.
“To be honest, we knew it was going to be hard,” said the team captain. “Team Sonnet has a great team, and we knew they were going to come out and play hard … All week we were building up and all the teams were getting better and better, game after game, and that’s what made it very special for the showcase.”
The final game of the showcase was played well by each team, including stars such as Team Bauer’s Jessie Eldridge, Catherine Dubois, and Sarah Lefort, as well as Team Sonnet’s Sarah Nurse and Brianne Jenner, who each put one in the net as well.
Alongside goalscoring and puck handling, the championship game saw sportsmanship and clean play between the players, but a tripped Laura Fortino had onlookers nervous. The defenceman had to be escorted off the ice after slamming her knee into the goal post, but had a smile on her face as she got up and the game continued.
For the members of Team Montreal, Team Toronto, and Team Calgary, the Canadian leg of the Secret Dream Gap Tour meant more than just playing hockey.
Not only were the Calgary Flames the first NHL team to host a Canadian showcase, but the past week was the first opportunity for the Canadian teams to play one another this season — the COVID-19 pandemic halted play for the northern squads for over a year.
The Secret Dream Gap Tour was years in the making for the PWHPA and being able to award the cup was a valuable step forward for the Association. For Team Sonnet forward Brianne Jenner, a loss in the championship game is still a win for women’s hockey.
“This week we’ve been treated like pros and been on national broadcast and I think it’s been some pretty good hockey, so we can count this whole week as a huge success for us, and for our movement, and for our organization,” said Jenner. “After 14 months of no competitive games, to have a week like this, to finish at the Saddledome, to finish with such a tight game on TV, it’s a win for us. Despite the loss today, I think everyone felt pretty great about being a part of this week.”