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PWHPA showcase underway in Montreal

Hometown Team Harvey’s (Montreal) will face Team adidas (Minnesota) in the showcase final Sunday.

Kelsey Roberts makes a save on Ann-Sophie Bettez at the PWHPA showcase in November.
Heather Pollock/PWHPA

The PWHPA ends the 2021-22 Dream Gap Tour with the Quartexx Hockey Showcase in Montreal. The teams from the training hubs in Montreal, Calgary, Boston, and Minnesota are competing, with many players from the Toronto training hub joining various squads.

The weekend format was the same as every other showcase this year. Two games, followed by a championship game for the winners and a consolation final for the losers. The consolation final will be at 12:30 pm ET on Sunday and the championship at 3:30 pm ET. The games will be broadcast by CBC Sports.

Teams Bauer (Boston) and adidas (Minnesota) faced off in Saturday’s mid-day game guaranteeing an American team in the championship game. Only Canadian teams made it to the Championship games of the four precious showcase weekends.

Sophia Shaver opened the scoring for adidas three minutes into the game. She collected her own rebound and slotted a backhand shot into the net. Toronto forward Brittany Howard scored for adidas ten minutes later with a snipe over the shoulder of Brittany Ott. Continuing the pressure, Anne Pankowski lasered a pass seconds later onto the stick of Shaver, who redirected it to the net. Victoria Bach scored a fourth first-period goal with a tremendous solo effort ending Ott’s night in the net. Terra Lanteigne came into the net in relief and closed out the last four minutes of the first period.

Adidas scored early in the second when Toronto players Laura Fortino and Bach connected for the 5-0 goal. Score effects started to occur, and the teams settled into the second period. They traded chances with the opportunities still favouring adidas but neither scored. Defender Ella Matteucci went coast-to-coast early in the third to score a sixth before adidas added a seventh late in the game. One of the Bauer reinforcements from Toronto, Loren Gabel, finally put the Boston side on the board to end the game 7-1.

The all-Canadian game between Harvey’s (Montreal) and Scotiabank (Calgary) was a much closer affair. Scotiabank started with the pressure pinning Harvey’s in their own end. Kaitlin Willoughby scored the opener before Hanna Bunton sniped a second goal five minutes later for a 2-0 Scotiabank lead. Harvey’s hasn’t had to spend much of the season on the back foot, but the team looked ready to respond. Jessie Eldridge jumped on a loose puck in the slot and scored her first of the evening. Harvey’s came close to scoring on the powerplay early in the second as they looked poised to draw even with Scotiabank. Still, Kelsey Roberts and the Scotiabank defence weren’t letting anything past. But with seconds left in the period, Tracy-Ann Lavigne sent a perfect pass to Catherine Dubois, who was streaking towards the net. She faked left before going right and scoring a tying goal to close out the second.

The teams battled hard in the third, but the skill and pace of Harvey’s started to show. The 13 skaters playing for Scotiabank to Harvey’s 16 started to become more evident as the tired Scotiabank defenders struggled to keep up. Ann-Sophie Bettez and Eldridge bounced the puck back and forth before Eldridge put it in to pull ahead. Harvey’s kept the pressure up, cycling the offensive zone as if they were on a powerplay. Melanie Desrochers scored with a bomb from the blue line to make it 4-2 before setting up another Bettez - Eldridge tag-team effort seconds later. The Montreal crowd applauded Eldridge’s hattrick, impressed with the five unanswered goals that cemented the comeback as a win.

Harvey’s will be the heavily favoured team heading into the championship game tomorrow evening against adidas. Marie-Soleil Deschênes has been the best and most consistent PWHPA goalie this year, allowing her team a chance to win every game. The offensive weapons of Bettez, Eldridge, and Sarah Lefort have connected all season and have shown they’re here to do it again this weekend. In front of the home crowd, I expect Harvey’s to be on fire Sunday.

In the consolation game, Bauer will have their final chance at winning a game. The team has lost all seven games they’ve played across four showcases. They have the added offensive power of forward like Loren Gable, who was sharp in the game against adidas. Multiple times she was able to lose defenders and make opportunistic plays in tight. Her added bite may be what Bauer needs to finally best an opposing team. It will be a challenge against a talented Scotiabank team backed by solid goaltending, but I’m hoping for an exciting game tight to the end.