PWHPA gets $1M commitment from Secret to fund Dream Gap Tour in 2021

Jayna Hefford, Hockey Hall of Famer and operations consultant for the PWHPA, joined Sportsnet Central to talk about the latest developments in the women's hockey game and what it means for their upcoming season.

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association is planning its return for 2021.

The PWHPA announced Thursday morning that Secret has committed $1 million in support of the organization, funding the 2021 Dream Gap Tour. It’s the largest corporate commitment ever made for professional women’s hockey in North America.

“Thanks to brands like Secret, players are given access to the necessary training facilities and resources and opportunities to compete, that professional sport demands. And fans are given the chance to cheer on their favourite athletes and rally behind their home teams,” PWHPA Operations Consultant Jayna Hefford said in Thursday’s press release.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced professional leagues around the world to halt operations. Though many have since returned, playing in bubbles and before empty or nearly-empty stands, there is a clear divide between those who have returned to competition and those still on the sidelines. Women’s hockey has been among those hardest hit, particularly considering the struggles already present in a sport divided between the PWHPA, established after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League shut its doors in 2019, and the U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League.

“COVID-19 affected our positive momentum and threatened our upcoming season. We’re so thankful for Secret’s ongoing support of the PWHPA. The PWHPA is made up of the best hockey players in the world, the fans deserve a chance to watch these women play and our players deserve to be treated equitably. This is a pivotal moment to create real change in women’s professional sports,” said Hefford.

With Thursday’s financial announcement, the PWHPA also unveiled its plans for 2021 as it prepares for its second season of the Secret Dream Gap Tour — a tour featuring more than 100 of the sport’s top players, including Olympians from both sides of the Canada-U.S. international rivalry joining forces to showcase the immense talent in women’s hockey.

This year, the PWHPA is establishing teams based in five markets: Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. Players will compete in six championship-style showcase events across Canada and the U.S., with this year’s competition featuring cash prizes and the Secret Cup up for grabs.

The PWHPA was established in May 2019, and is comprised of 125 players with Olympic and professional experience with many having played in the NWHL and the now-defunct CWHL, which shut its doors earlier in 2019. The goal of the organization is to “promote, advance and support a single, viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America that showcases the greatest product of women’s professional ice hockey in the world.”

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