Yesterday, the PWHPA announced the Dream Gap Tour, with three stops planned and possibly more in the works.
The tour is aptly named based on the players’ goals.
“We’re trying to push that little girls will have something to dream of like little boys do,” said Kali Flanagan in an interview with The Ice Garden. “We’re aiming for the idea that there are opportunities for little girls and women who are coming up in our sport to make a living out of playing professional hockey. So for a little girl to have the same goal as a little boy her age and in her mind be able to be like ‘Wow I could actually make a living wage out of playing hockey one day.’”
To help achieve that goal, each stop will have a variety of events to promote the game. Flanagan has been involved in Hudson, New Hampshire stop at Cyclones Arena, as it is at her father’s rink. She said community outreach and clinics have been discussed as possibilities for the Oct. 4 - 6 stop, but nothing is finalized yet.
Of course, the weekends will feature games played by PWHPA members. Eighty players will be at each stop, split into four teams. According to AP, they’ll play three round-robin games followed by a championship game.
The teams will be loosely organized by their training regions with others filling in when a team needs more players, Flanagan explained. She said the New Hampshire stop will feature New England, Minnesota, Tri-State/Buffalo, and Montréal players.
Toronto’s stop (Sept. 20 - 22 at Westwood Arena) will have the two Greater Toronto Area teams plus Calgary and Montréal. In Chicago (Oct. 18 - 20 at Fifth Third Arena) the teams will be a larger mix of players from across all of the training regions, described as an All-Star vibe.
Details, including the exact rosters and schedule, will be released closer to each date. They have a goal of streaming the events but those plans have not been finalized yet.
To get ready for the tournament, Flanagan said the New England region will be training together in the weeks leading up to the New Hampshire stop with twice a week practices at Bentley University. “It’ll be good to have everybody there as a group and in a competitive environment twice a week,” she said. The group will have other skills and off-ice training as everyone’s personal work and training schedule’s allow too.
The defender said she’s looking forward to playing with the entire New England region. “There some different people that I’ve never played before especially because it’s my first year in the post-grad world. So I think it’ll be fun to play with people that I haven’t particularly played with,” she said while also mentioning getting back together with her old Boston College teammates is a highlight.
As for whose on the other side of the rink, Flanagan recognizes what the tournaments can show off. “I think that the most exciting thing is that everybody will be in one place. So when we play in these different showcase, we’ll be able to play against girls who are from Canada and from the U.S., whereas before they were kind of in a few different places. So I think that that will be really cool to have that competition.”
The connections to her alma mater extend beyond the Dream Gap Tour stops. The PWHPA also announced an exhibition game against BC at Conte Forum on Sept. 22. “I can’t wait to play them,” she said. “I think it’ll be a really exciting, really awesome, really competitive game and I’m definitely excited to be on the other side against some of my old teammates.”
The recent college graduate is excited by her first year of post grad hockey. “I think this year it’s gonna be a really special year for us. Hopefully we can achieve some great things as a group. I’m just really excited to see what’s to come.”