2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour recap: New York City

It was a big weekend for professional women’s hockey players — and a big weekend for Wisconsin alumnae, too.

The PWHPA had a big weekend in the Big Apple, kicking off the start of the U.S. leg of their 2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour. They played two games — one in New Jersey, and one at the fabled Madison Square Garden.

Team adidas (the Minnesota regional training hub), won the first contest by a 3-goal margin, despite trailing Team WSF (the New Hampshire regional training hub) in shots for the majority of the game.

Saturday evening’s tilt at MSG was a different story.

Game 1: Team WSF (NH) 2 vs. Team adidas (MIN) 5

The first period was mostly quiet, with the only action coming midway through the frame in the form of matching penalties after Team WSF’s Brianna Decker and Team adidas’ Kendall Coyne Schofield exchanged some words after the whistle. An interference call on Annie Pankowski would put Team adidas down another player and lead to some 4-on-3 action just 27 seconds later.

Team WSF’s Hayley Scamurra opened the scoring in the second period off a feed from Gigi Marvin after dominating in shots on goal — likely in part due to their ability to practice together and play in competitions as a full roster, whereas Team adidas hasn’t had that luxury for quite as long.

Before the second period could end, Savannah Harmon got one right back for Team adidas to tie the game 1-1.

Nearly the biggest opportunity of the third period came when Coyne Schofield got the most beautiful breakaway attempt made possible by her speed (of 2019 NHL All-Star Game fame) and quick feet. Katie Burt was able to make the stop, but Team adidas would pull ahead just minutes later off a goal from Minnesota Duluth alum Ryleigh Houston.

Once the goals started coming, they didn’t stop — and Team adidas would quickly tack on two more, courtesy of former Wisconsin standout and 2020 Patty Kazmaier Award finalist Abby Roque, to make the score 4-1 in favor of Team adidas.

Throughout the first game, Roque was centering two lines: first, with Ryleigh Houston and Sophia Shaver, and second, with Sam Donovan and Sydney Brodt. While Roque has had success on a team with Shaver before, she commented on her rotation in the post-game press conference.

“In the third, we kind of started going a little steadier with [our lines], but I think it was good. You always have someone different bringing a little something different to the table when it’s like that, so it’s kinda fun,” said Roque in response to a question from The Ice Garden’s Mike Murphy.

By the game’s end, the score would be 5-2 — with Coyne Schofield getting the final goal for Team adidas, and Gigi Marvin tacking on another one for Team WSF in the waning minutes of the third.

Goaltenders Katie Burt and Nicole Hensley both put on stellar performances, with the former marking 25/30 saves and the latter making 37/39 — no surprise, given the volume of shots she’s faced as a member of Team USA and as a former Lindenwood Lion.

Team adidas’ 5-2 win would give them two points in the standings, plus an additional point for scoring five or more goals in a single contest. Team WSF walked away from the showing with zero points in the standings, but had a chance to even the score on Sunday.

Let’s see if they were up to the task.

Game 2: Team WSF (NH) 4 vs. Team adidas (MIN) 3

Game two of the New York City stop of the Secret Dream Gap Tour started a lot more quickly, with two quick goals scored by Team WSF during the first six minutes of play.

Brianna Decker opened the scoring, going in all alone on Maddie Rooney and faking out a shot before slipping the puck past her former Olympic teammate, then fed her linemate in Amanda Kessel to go up 2-0.

Abby Roque was not about to let Team WSF run away with the game, though, nor was she about to let Brianna Decker nab the scoring title from her. Roque quickly tallied a goal of her own to further solidify her position leading all PWHPA skaters in goals and points and throw her name into the conversation for the United States’ national team.

The first period was finished out with a nasty five-hole goal by Haley Skarupa to put Team WSF 3-1. Clearly, the New Hampshire hub had a score to settle after last night’s loss.

The second was mostly quiet, with the only major action coming when Team WSF’s Codie Cross took a penalty for hooking. Things got a bit heated just minutes later when Team adidas went down two skaters with Kelly Pannek going off for cross-checking and then Demi Crossman joining her in the box on a holding call. Luckily for Team adidas, Team WSF was unable to convert with either advantage.

With three minutes left in the period, Savannah Harmon got the period’s closest look when she shot the puck cross-crease to hit the far post behind Cavallini. After the initial good goal call, the referees ruled that the puck never crossed the goal line and the goal was called off.

Who else but Hilary Knight would open the scoring in the third period with an absolute rocket from the top of the circle. Cavallini had virtually no chance on this one when Knight went high glove-side to cut Team adidas’ deficit to one.

Unfortunately, the momentum wouldn’t last — Team adidas’ Sophia Shaver took a delay of game penalty, and shortly thereafter, Sydney Brodt would serve a bench minor for too many players on the ice. With their second 5-on-3 of the game, Team WSF was quick to convert with another tally by Brianna Decker to give the Badger alum her fourth point of the game and put Team WSF up 4-2.

We think she deserves extra points for the celly, too.

With under five minutes left in the third period, Coyne Schofield puts Team adidas back within one with a shot from the slot and from her knees. Unfortunately, it ultimately wasn’t enough, as Team adidas couldn’t sustain enough pressure to even pull Rooney in the waning seconds of the third.

Team WSF’s win on Sunday would give them two points in the standings, putting them just one point back of Team adidas after the former’s three-point night on Saturday.

3 Stars of the Weekend:

  1. Abby Roque — 3 G, 2 A
  2. Brianna Decker — 2 G, 2 A
  3. Ryleigh Houston — 1 G, 2 A