By Hayden Godfrey
The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) brought their Dream Gap Tour to the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Jan. 12 for the sixth and final game of the Secret Women’s Hockey Showcase.
The Dream Gap Tour, which began in September, is a series of showcase events featuring former professional players. It included Olympians Natalie Spooner, Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight, all of whom played in Sunday’s games.
Its goal was to promote and raise awareness for women’s hockey, with the ultimate objective of creating a unified professional league in North America.
Sunday’s game featured Team Daoust Wildcats and Team Spooner Sharks, who were captained by Montréal Canadiennes blueliner Catherine Daoust and Olympic gold medalist Spooner, respectively. The game also featured many notable U SPORTS alumni on both sides.
“The support was there,” Poulin said after the game, which ended in an 8-0 victory for Team Daoust. “Obviously, you always want more, but it was there. It was another step in the right direction.”
A passionate and diverse crowd decked out in various pieces of women’s hockey apparel lined the seats of the MAC, erupting in cheers at various points throughout the exciting and fast-paced game. Team Spooner goaltender Elaine Chuli had the fans on their feet early with several spectacular saves in the first period.
Team Daoust goalie Emerance Maschmeyer was awarded the first star of the game, Daoust’s Marie-Soleil Deschênes won the second star and Spooner’s Brittany Howard won the third star.
PWHPA told The Eyeopener that an estimated 1100 fans were in attendance.
“It’s fun having players on both teams to cheer for,” former Olympian and Toronto Furies forward Sarah Nurse remarked. “We’re all fighting for the same goal. And at the end of the day, we’re having fun out there.”
The PWHPA was founded in May 2019 following the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) and has since hosted events in Hudson, New Hampshire and Chicago.
This was the second last stop on The Dream Gap Tour. Throughout the tour, the talent, passion and dedication of the players were on full display, as the need for a professional women’s hockey league was made abundantly clear.