For the first time in two years, there’s competitive women’s hockey in Canada.
After the USA leg of the Dream Gap Tour came to a close last week, the PWHPA will host a week-long event in Calgary for its three Canadian hubs; Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.
Players underwent a seven-day quarantine period before heading to the “segregated environment” at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino. They will compete in a total of six contests before a championship game.
It’s a great opportunity to see some of these players ahead of Worlds and the Olympics, and also watch some of the future players of the Canadian program.
Storylines to follow
For most of these players, it’s the first time they’ve been on the ice in a competitive setting in two years. Worlds were cancelled last year, and postponed to August this time around, and there was no Dream Gap Tour a year ago.
Canada already named its roster for Worlds, which will occur at an undecided spot in Canada after it was cancelled in Halifax twice. There were a few roster surprises, and some of the players unexpectedly cut will be on the ice in Calgary this week.
Montreal and Calgary are also without a few notable names on their hub rosters. Montreal will be missing Melanie Desrouchers, Kim Poirier, Marie-Soleil Deschênes, Maude Gelinas, and Tracy-Ann Lavigne, and Calgary is without Halli Krzyzaniak, Amanda Pelkey, Jordyn Zacharias, and Micah Zandee-Hart.
Players to watch
Meaghan Mikkelson, Calgary: Reportedly, the 36-year-old Mikkelson had a stellar Worlds camp to make the Canadian roster, coming as a surprise to some. She’s played at a high level, though, so these games should be a great chance to see where she’s at. The 2010 gold medalist has been a mainstay on the Canadian blue line, and this upcoming run is almost certainly her last.
Victoria Bach, Toronto: Bach has been one of the best up and coming young Canadian players for a few seasons, set to make her Olympic debut in 2022. She’s been electric in every camp and tournament she’s been a part of since playing for Boston University. It’s no stretch to say she is the future of Canadian women’s hockey.
Marie-Philip Poulin, Montreal: Who else? Any time you can watch one of the best players in the world it’s a good tournament. Poulin, like her Canadian teammates and opponents, hasn’t competed in some time. She was dealing with injuries the last time she played, missing the first two games of the 2019 Worlds and getting injured again in her return. She also missed time in the Rivalry Series, so this is her return to action as much as anything.
Dark horse names to watch
Rebecca Leslie, Montreal: Montreal will be without Mélodie Daoust with an undisclosed injury, so a player like Leslie should get a good opportunity to have an increased role. The 24-year-old won a Clarkson Cup with Calgary in 2019, so she’ll be back in the city she began her professional career.
Loren Gabel, Toronto: After not making the Canadian Worlds roster, there’s no doubt Gabel will be looking for a strong showing. She reportedly struggled during the camp with Canada, which makes sense since she hasn’t played in a competitive environment since graduating from Clarkson, where she scored 213 points and she still has Clarkson’s record for career goals with 116. How she performs at the professional level for the first time will be important for her.
Kristen Campbell, Calgary: Campbell was the surprise goalie on the Canadian Worlds roster. Her selection over Geneviève Lacasse raised some eyebrows, so this will be a great showcase for her to, well, show the audience why she’s primed to be a part of the Canadian roster. The 23-year-old has one international appearance, in the 2015 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.