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Dream Gap Tour Preview: Dunkin’ Women’s Hockey Showcase

A mixed bag of teams should make for an interesting second stop for the PWHPA

This weekend, the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour makes its second stop in Hudson, New Hampshire at Cyclones Arena. Dunkin’ is the title sponsor of the weekend, which includes a youth clinic.

The games will be streamed on the PWHPA YouTube account.

The Rosters

Team Flanagan

Team Flanagan, coached by Kali Flanagan’s dad, is largely made up of players with New England ties. Seven of the skaters are former Worcester Blades players, four played for the Boston Pride, and three graduated from Boston College together last season. The other six played on a variety of CWHL and NWHL teams last season.

Expect to see lines and defensive pairs based on who has played together before as the full squad doesn’t have much experience playing together. The lack of familiarity both with each other and their coach could make for a tough opening weekend. But all three Team Flanagan goaltenders have experience playing against the other teams, a big plus for them.

Team Stecklein

Much like Team Flanagan, Team Stecklein has a mix of players. Four former Buffalo Beauts are together along with three former Whitecaps, but otherwise, the roster is a mashup of college and pro players. Coached by Terry Watt, the key will be for the team to come together quick enough to get chemistry on the ice going.

They’ll be backstopped by Kassidy Suave, Lauren Dahm, and Kimberly Sass. Unlike the other teams, none of those goaltenders have experience playing against the large majority of the players they’ll be facing this weekend.

Team Knight

Team Knight is largely the same as Team Poulin, the unofficial winners of the first Dream Gap Tour stop, with 19 of the 21 players making their second appearance on tour. The Montréal-based squad looked solid with their seven goals on the weekend coming from four different players.

General Manager Meg Hewings put together a strong group who have the advantage this weekend of having had played together in a true game fashion already. This time around they’ll be coach by former Les Canadiennes coach Caroline Ouellette.

Team Lamoureux

Team Lamoureux features seven former Blades plus their last coach Paul Kennedy. The rest of their lineup — like two of the other teams — is a mix of players, definitely anchored by Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando. This will be the first time fans get to see the sisters in game play since the Olympics and the birth of their sons. In other words, this will be their debut a hockey moms.

Having Alex Cavallini (neé Rigsby) behind them will definitely help Team Lamoureux out if they run into trouble gelling.

The Games

Unlike the Toronto stop, the Dunkin’ Women’s Hockey Showcase will actually feature a championship game on Sunday.

Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. - Team Flanagan v Team Stecklein

My biggest hope for this game is to see goaltender Dahm start and faceoff against seven of her former Blades teammates. Heck, give me Dahm vs Rackleff! Team Flanagan definitely has the edge here as there’s larger packs of players who have played together, and likely had the benefit of practicing together as a unit more often.

Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. - Team Knight v Team Lamoureux

I predict this game will be slightly uneven, not necessarily in the score but the game play. It’s no secret how the Blades players struggled against Les Canadiennes in the CWHL, and I don’t think this will be any different. Where the unevenness will come in is the rest of Team Lamoureux, who have proven to be able to keep up with the type of firepower Team Knight will bring. At first blush, goaltending is basically even with Cavallini vs Mashmeyer/Lacasse. All of that makes this game very hard to predict, which if you know me, I hate doing so I won’t anyway.

Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. - Consolation game
Oct. 6 at 1:30 p.m. - Championship game

Players to watch

Makenna Newkirk, forward, Team Flanagan

Newkirk comes to the PWHPA fresh off her senior season with Boston College were she was the captain for the second straight season. She had a strong college career — 189 total points put her at 1.23 points per game in the NCAA — and made a name for herself on an Eagles team with National Team stars. How she stacks up with players who have a few years of professional player will be to watch.

Kassidy Sauvé, goaltender, Team Stecklein

Sauvé is another player who is fresh out of college, after making waves before her final season by transferring from Ohio State to Clarkson. She’s highly regarded as one of the best goaltenders in the game and holds a spot in history as making the Frozen Four with two different teams. Look for her to start on Team Stecklein especially in their second game of the weekend when they’ll encounter the type of fire power the other two goaltenders might not be used to.

Alexa Gruschow, forward, Team Lamoureux

The former Riveter had an up-and-down NWHL career. Last season, her struggles mirrored the team’s as her production greatly fell well below what she’s capable of. She had a solid first season in the league in 2016-17. But her second season in 2017-18 was by far her best, notching 22 points (9g, 13a) on her way to the Isobel Cup. That season was marked by the lack of National Team players plus strong familiarity with her Riveters teammates. This weekend will give us a good look at how Gruschow plays with and against the top tier players.

Mélodie Daoust, forward, Team Knight

Daoust tied for first in goals scored in Toronto (3). On a team that has had ample time to get to know each other, she has a good chance to again lead the stats sheet in goals. Oh, and she’s always a player to watch; she’s Mélodie Daoust.