For the first time in two years, women’s hockey is competitive in Canada.
The PWHPA will host a week-long event in Calgary for its three Canadian hubs; Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, following the conclusion of the Dream Gap Tour’s USA leg last week.
Before heading to the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino’s “segregated environment,” players had to go through a seven-day quarantine period. Before the championship game, they will play in a total of six contests.
It’s a perfect chance to see some of these players ahead of Worlds and the Olympics, as well as some of the Canadian program’s future players.
Storylines to follow
It’s the first time most of these players have been on the ice in a competitive setting in two years. Last year’s Worlds were canceled, and this year’s have been rescheduled for August, and there was no Dream Gap Tour a year ago.
Canada has already named its Worlds roster, which will be held in an undecided location in Canada after being postponed twice in Halifax. There were a few roster surprises, and some of the players who were cut suddenly will be back on the ice this week in Calgary.
Montreal and Calgary are also without a few notable names on their hub rosters. Melanie Desrouchers, Kim Poirier, Marie-Soleil Deschênes, Maude Gelinas, and Tracy-Ann Lavigne will be absent from Montreal, while Halli Krzyzaniak, Amanda Pelkey, Jordyn Zacharias, and Micah Zandee-Hart will be absent from Calgary.
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 has, however, played at a high level, so these games should be an excellent opportunity to see where she stands. The 2010 Olympic gold medalist has been a constant on the Canadian blue line, and this will almost definitely be her last.
Victoria Bach, Toronto: Bach, who is expected to make her Olympic debut in 2022, has been one of the best up and coming young Canadian players for a few seasons. 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: Is there someone else? It’s a good tournament when you can watch one of the best players in the world. Poulin hasn’t played in a while, like her Canadian teammates and opponents. She was injured the last time she played, missing the first two games of the 2019 Worlds and then getting injured again when she returned. She also lost time in the Rivalry Series, so this is more than anything a return to action for her.
Dark horse names to watch
Rebecca Leslie, Montreal: Montreal will be without Mélodie Daoust due to an unknown injury, so a player like Leslie should have a good chance to play a bigger role. In 2019, the 24-year-old won the Clarkson Cup with Calgary, and she’ll be returning to the city where she started 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 Canada camp, which is understandable given that she hasn’t played in a competitive atmosphere since graduating from Clarkson, where she scored 213 points and still holds the Clarkson career goal record with 116. It will be important for her to see how she performs on a professional level for the first time.
Kristen Campbell, Calgary: Campbell was a pleasant surprise on the Canadian Worlds roster. Her selection over Geneviève Lacasse raised some eyebrows, so this would be an excellent opportunity for her to show the audience why she deserves to be on the Canadian roster. The 23-year-old has only played in one international appearance, the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in 2015.