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2021-22 PWHPA Preview: Tim Hortons Showcase in Truro, NS

It’s time for the first PWHPA Dream Gap Tour stop of the season!

2021 PWHPA Dream Gap Tour Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It’s been a very long time since a PWHPA team has crossed the US Canada border to play. But that all changes today when the puck drops in Truro, Nova Scotia for the Tim Hortons Showcase, the first Dream Gap Tour stop of the season.

It’s a quick stop with just four games - two on Friday with the winners moving to the championship game on Saturday and the losers moving the consolation game on Sunday.

  • Calgary v Boston - Friday at 2 p.m. eastern
  • Montreal v Toronto - Friday at 6 p.m. eastern
  • Consolation game - Saturday at 2 p.m. eastern
  • Championship game - Saturday at 6 p.m. eastern

All four games will be streamed worldwide on CBC Sports.

The Teams

Boston (Bauer)

Defenders: Molly Strabley, Lauren Williams*, Breanna Scarpaci, Maddie Rolfes*, Cat Quirion, Meaghan Spurling
Forwards: Meghan Turner, Elissa Taylor, Demi Crossman*, Jenelle Kohanchuk, Alexa Gruschow, Shae Labbe, Meghan Grieves, Anne Pankowski*, Mackenzie Ebel, Bailey Larson
Goaltenders: Brittany Ott, Terra Lanteigne
* = rostered with Minnesota

Not Attending: Carrie Atkinson, Erin Kickham, Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga, Courtney Turner, Kaitlin Spurling, Natalie Flynn, Brittany Zuback, Kimberly Sass

To make up for the eight players that can’t make to Nova Scotia, four players from the Minnesota team will suit up for Boston. Some familiarity is there as Lauren Williams and Demi Crossman both played for the Worcester Blades alongside Meaghan Spurling and Courtney Turner. For Maddie Rolfes and Annie Pankowski, it’s largely all new teammates. How new head coach Ashley Kilstein deploys these temporary players will most likely make a big difference given the lack of practice time - and lack of games to get used to each other.

Last season was tough for Boston (who were based in New Hampshire and named Women’s Sports Foundation), especially given they only played the loaded Minnesota team. Adding Pankowski for the weekend should help as she’s literally always a threat on the ice. Alexa Gruschow really needed to step up her offensive fire power last season so we’ll see how she fares.

Calgary (Scotiabank)

Defenders: Brigette Lacquette, Megan Grenon, Natalie Fraser, Brittaney Maschmeyer, Abby Thiessen, Katelyn Gosling
Forwards: Laura Dostaler, Leona Sim, Samantha Cogan, Hanna Bunton, Rhianna Kurio, Kelty Apperson, Alexandra Poznikoff, Kaitlin Willoughby, Amanda Pelkey, Sarah Potomak
Goaltenders: Marlène Boissonnault, Kelsey Roberts

Not Attending: Iya Gavrilova, Halli Krzyzaniak

Calgary comes in after what had to be an extremely disappointing home showcase last season. But a big issue then was practice time due to COVID protocols, so hopefully they’ll look more cohesive now.

They’ll for sure miss defender Halli Krzyzaniak, especially after giving up 20 goals last “season.” But the addition of Abby Thiessen, who’s spent time in the SDHL after the St. Cloud, on the blue line is definitely interesting.

Finding ways to score more goals will be huge for them as they scored only 10 in the Calgary showcase. Sarah Potomak - their leading goal scorer with five - is back, but they need more depth than one player. Their top two assisters there - Rebecca Johnson and Blarye Turnbull - are gone at centralization so filling that void will be necessary. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Amanda Pelkey playing competitive hockey but she could definitely fill in here based on past performances.

Montreal (Harvey’s)

Defenders: Kaity Howarth, Catherine Daoust, Melanie Desrochers, Kim Poirier
Forwards: Kim Deschênes, Samantha Isbell, Alexandra Labelle, Sarah Lefort, Rebecca Leslie, Jordanna Peroff, Catherine Dubois, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Maude Gelinas, Karell Emard, Tracy-Ann Lavigne
Goaltenders: Marie-Pier Coulombe, Marie-Soleil Deschênes

Not Attending: Lauriane Rougeau, Emmanuelle Blais, Genevieve Lacasse

Montreal’s top three goal scorers who accounted for half their goals from the last showcase are gone - leaving a massive gaping hole in their line up. Rebecca Leslie had two goals and two assists, and is someone Montreal will almost assuredly lean on offensively. Same with Ann-Sophie Bettez and Karell Emard.

They’re only bringing four defenders which is an interesting choice, especially given that their top goaltender Genevieve Lacasse is not attending.

Toronto (Sonnet)

Defenders: Laura Fortino, Katherine Bailey, Jacquie Greco, Alexis Woloschuk, Ella Matteucci
Forwards: Becca King, Nicole Kosta, Kristen Richards, Shannon Stewart, Kayla Vespa, Rachael Smith, Kelly Gribbons, Madison Field, Jess Jones, Loren Gabel, Brittany Howard, Jenna Dingeldein
Goaltenders: Kassidy Sauvé, Amanda Makela

Not Attending: Carolyne Prévost, Erica Howe

On paper, Toronto has the best chances this weekend, in my opinion. While they had some significant losses, the most solid returners. Their blue line is all veterans - with the exception of Katherine Bailey - with Laura Fortino an extremely talented defender with years of experience under her belt.

Loren Gabel was shockingly left off Canada’s centralization, but their loss is Toronto’s gain here. She was a bit quiet on the score sheet in Calgary with just one goal and one assist, but still look for greatness out of her. Additionally, Brittany Howard, who was the second-highest scorer on the team last showcase, is back.

Maybe its a hot take and maybe I’ll be proven wrong by the end of the day but Toronto’s my favorite to win this weekend’s Showcase.