Return of PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour shifts women’s hockey focus back on sport’s future

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It would be robust to high Brianne Jenner’s final 14 months of hockey.

In that point, the Canadian ahead received Olympic gold and two world championships. In Beijing, she tied an Olympic file with 9 objectives to earn MVP honours.

Her subsequent recreation will come on Saturday in Montreal as half of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association’s Dream Gap Tour. Jenner will put on the identical colors as American star Hilary Knight on Team Sonnet.

“I believe everybody’s actually excited to play for the PWHPA and what we symbolize,” Jenner stated. “It’s totally different than every other emblem that that we have worn on our jersey previously. It represents one thing a lot greater than ourselves, a lot greater than a hockey crew.”

The Dream Gap Tour, a barnstorming collection of weekend-long stops throughout North America, returns for its fourth consecutive season. The PWHPA, which rose from the ashes of the defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League, has nonetheless not established a proper professional league because it seeks sustainability.

Live protection of each PWHPA recreation this season will likely be obtainable worldwide on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app, CBC Gem and CBC Sports’ YouTube channel. Coverage of the Montreal collection begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET, when Jenner’s Team Sonnet faces Mélodie Daoust’s Team Scotiabank.

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Jenner, a 31-year-old three-time Olympian from Oakville, Ont., stated she’s excited to crew up together with her American foes after so many months of battle.

“I believe it is turning into manifestly apparent how a lot of a possibility there’s in women’s hockey and in women’s sport generally. And I believe, with our work with the PWHPA, we have actually taken our assist the subsequent stage.”

In 2022, the Dream Gap Tour will characteristic extra continuity. No longer are titles up for grabs at every cease; as a substitute, every recreation will depend towards season-long standings.

A discount in groups from 5 to 4 means each squad will likely be in motion at each cease. Rosters, that includes extra concentrated expertise, will keep constant all through season.

Along with Jenner, the likes of Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin, Ann-Renée Desbiens and Sarah Nurse and Americans Abby Roque, Amanda Kessel and Kendall Coyne Schofield will all be back on PWHPA ice.

Nearly each North American Olympian will play on the Dream Gap Tour after lacking final season whereas centralized at nationwide pre-Olympic coaching camps.

Differences stay between PWHPA, PHF

But for the primary time, injured U.S. star Brianna Decker will not be half of the PWHPA. The 31-year-old jumped ship in August to the Premier Hockey Federation, a PWHPA competitor operating knowledgeable league. Decker will serve in a participant advisory function.

“I felt just like the PWHPA hit a bit of a standstill — there’s clearly been speak behind the scenes, however I sort of felt like quite a bit of us have been at midnight quite a bit,” Decker advised Sportsnet.

The PHF lately noticed Buffalo Beauts ahead Mikyla Grant-Mentis grow to be the best paid women’s hockey participant ever with an $80,000 US wage.

The sides tried to collaborate on a unified league, however talks fizzled in April. Soon after, reviews emerged {that a} PWHPA professional league can be beginning in January. But PWHPA operations guide Jayna Hefford advised Sportsnet lately that was an “bold objective” that will not be achieved in that time-frame.

Jenner acknowledged a spot stays between the 2 factions.

“I believe our imaginative and prescient with the PWHPA has remained the identical since we have been based and that’s to construct a league that’s skilled in all facets, not simply in wage however in the best way that gamers are supported — the services, healthcare, all avenues of that,” Jenner stated.

“We nonetheless do not feel that there’s that skilled league on the market that has all the pieces that we really feel makes a league skilled.”

Coyne Schofield celebrates a objective scored on the Dream Gap Tour in February 2021. (Jared Silber/MSG Photos/Submitted by the PWHPA)

No ‘definitive timeline’ for professional league 

So how shut is the PWHPA to creating that skilled league a actuality?

“I do not know if I can say the definitive timeline, however I can say that people who work for the PWHPA and our members are working each day [toward] that objective and [are] actually assured about how far we have come,” Jenner stated.

For now, Jenner’s focus is on the Dream Gap Tour and a pair of video games in Montreal this weekend. The PWHPA’s subsequent cease will likely be early November in Truro, N.S., adopted by a visit to Pittsburgh later within the month.

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Oakville, Ont.’s Brianne Jenner scored each of Canada’s objectives en path to a 2-1 victory over their worldwide rivals within the match remaining.

Jenner stated the final yr with Team Canada was “particular,” calling it “most likely essentially the most enjoyable season of hockey that I’ve performed.”

But the upcoming yr presents a brand new problem. No longer is it about Canada vs. the U.S. — it is now a united entrance battling to safe the future of women’s hockey, one aggressive recreation at a time.

“When you’ve gotten video games on the schedule to sit up for, knowledgeable coaching setting like we have arrange for our place this yr and groups you play with all year long and teammates you get to develop chemistry with, all of these issues are simply actually thrilling and I can not wait to be a component of it.”

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