Dream Gap Tour marks triumphant return for women's hockey showcase
Abby Roque's 4-point night propels Minnesota's lopsided win over New Hampshire
The Dream Gap tour returned with a flourish on Saturday.
After nearly 12 months of inactivity, the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association (PWPHA) showcase series kicked off its second year as Team Minnesota defeated Team New Hampshire 5-2, in Somerset, N.J.
The PWHPA was formed after the collapse of the Canadian Women's Hockey League in 2019. While pandemic-related restrictions have kept players living north of the border out of action, the PWPHA is pushing ahead with its Dream Gap Tour with two U.S.-based teams for now.
Made up primarily of Canadian and U.S. athletes, the action picked up in the second period after a slow opening frame. Hayley Scammura was the first to break the ice, streaking down the wing before pulling the puck back onto her backhand to beat Minnesota goalie Nicole Hensley to give New Hampshire a 1-0 lead.
WATCH | Minnesota routs New Hampshire in Dream Gap Tour opener:
But with 20 seconds to go in the second, Savannah Harmon pulled Minnesota level with a wrister from the slot.
Then the floodgates opened, with Abby Roque — who had an assist on Harmon's goal — leading the charge.
After feeding Winnipeg's Ryleigh Houston for her second helper of the night, Roque would pot two of her own. Her second, courtesy of a nearly impossible-to-stop wrister, befuddled New Hampshire goalie Katie Burt as it sailed top shelf from a tight angle.
Here’s another look at the <a href="https://twitter.com/BudweiserCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BudweiserCanada</a> Goal of the Game!<a href="https://twitter.com/NYRangers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NYRangers</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SDGT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SDGT</a> <a href="https://t.co/1DJvNGYjt4">pic.twitter.com/1DJvNGYjt4</a>—@PWHPA
Minnesota's fifth of the night came courtesy of Kendall Coyne Schofield, before Gigi Marvin finally added New Hampshire's second to close out the box score at 5-2.
This year's edition of the Dream Gap Tour features a unique scoring system; teams are awards two points for a win, one for a win in overtime and half a point for an overtime or shootout loss. Emphasis is also being placed on hat tricks, shorthanded goals, shutouts and an additional point for teams that score five or more goals in a game.
Historic game ahead
Saturday's game was the first of two this weekend. Both teams are set to return on Sunday for the second half of their back-to-back series — except this time, they will be playing at Madison Square Garden, a historic first for professional women's hockey and its goal of creating a viable women's pro league.
PWHPA players are currently training out of five hubs: Minnesota, New Hampshire, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.
The next stop for the tour is Chicago, which will host games on March 6-7.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have previously issued their support and plan on hosting a Dream Gap Tour stop once Canada's COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
CBC Sports will live-stream all Dream Gap Tour games not being broadcast on TV by Sportsnet or the NHL Network.