Four PWHPA teams met in Truro, Nova Scotia, for the first stop of this year’s PWHPA Secret® Dream Gap Tour. Teams Scotiabank from Calgary, Sonnet from Toronto, Harvey’s from Montreal, and Bauer from Boston played a mini tournament with semifinals on Friday and a championship on Saturday.
Scotiabank won their Friday game over Bauer 3-0. A shutout performance from Marléne Boissonnault and goals from Samantha Cogan, Brigette Lacquette, and Megan Grenon marked a confident win.
Team Harvey’s first faced off on Friday against Team Sonnet, who made themselves a tough opponent. Sonnet dominated play at times throughout the night but Harvey’s goaltender Marie-Soleil Deschênes was solid in net keeping her team in it. All four goals scored by Team Harvey’s were a little bit lucky: a slow shot through traffic by Kaity Howarth, a bounce off a skate, a 130-foot shot from Ann-Sophie Bettez, and an empty net goal.
On Saturday, the two teams met in front of a full house to determine the showcase winner. Action in the first period was end to end as top forwards from both sides showed off their skills. Goaltenders Marie-Soleil Deschênes and Kelsey Roberts matched each other save for save as the first period went on. Scotiabank got their breakthrough twelve minutes into the period when Kaitlin Willoughby dropped a puck at the top of the circle for Kelty Apperson. Apperson feathered a shot on net from distance that snuck its way under Deschênes’ pads.
To end the first and start the second, Scotiabank had three consecutive power plays. Unruffled by the goal against, Deschênes stood tall and closed the door to kill the penalties. Harvey’s took this the other way and created opportunities themselves. Six minutes into the second period, Rebecca Leslie dug a puck out of the corner and centred it for Sarah Lefort who took a quick shot. With a defending Lacquette providing an accidental screen, the puck found its way into the net for a tie game.
Momentum appeared to shift towards Team Harvey’s as they gained a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage after penalties to Scotiabank’s Apperson and Lacquette. Harvey’s peppered Roberts with a barrage of shots who made a sequence of desperation saves diving back and forth to either side of her crease. Scotiabank killed off the penalties and the two teams ended the second frame locked in a 1-1 battle with a nearly even number of chances.
The third period was as exciting as a scoreless period can be. There were big hits, sprawling saves, and close calls. Scotiabank led the period in shots and nearly scored as Bettez and Lefort got multiple looks in a row, but Roberts came up big again. Regulation ended tied at one.
Overtime was electric as the fans cheered for chances at both ends. 3-on-3 play meant lots of open ice for the players to use as they chased each other back and forth in another even period. After five minutes, the game was still tied, forcing a shootout.
Bettez missed the net on the first shot before Lacquette was blanked by Deschênes. Tracy-Ann Lavigne missed the second shot for Team Harvey’s, leaving the floor open for Scotiabank’s Sarah Potomak.
After the game, Potomak reflected on her thoughts as she was taking the shot. “[Deschênes] kind of challenged me hard so I just wanted to fake the shot and then I knew I could go behind her” she said. Potomak made a quick forehand backhand fake before pulling the puck to the side and roofing a backhand shot.
Team @scotiabank are the @TimHortons showcase CHAMPS as they win 2-1 in a shootout! @sarahpotomak9 had the beautiful backhand SO winner and Kelsey Roberts stopped all three Team @HarveysCanada SO attempts. @TimHortons | #SDGT pic.twitter.com/6gWSthe6ny— PWHPA (@PWHPA) November 14, 2021
With the game on the line, Kelsey Roberts tracked the last shooter all the way and made the final save to win the championship.
Afterwards, players gave praise to both netminders, but their real focus was on the fans.
“I was not expecting to have this many people,” Potomak said talking about the size of the crowd. “It just goes to show you the support that’s out there for the female game. We felt it the whole way through both games.”
Much of the stands were filled by local minor girls hockey teams, something that inspired Kelsey Richards. “The crowd was full of young girls’ teams, it was really exciting to see the energy they brought,” she said.
The players now go back to training before their next showcase weekend in Toronto at the end of December.