The 2021-2022 PWHPA season kicks off with the first Dream Gap Tour this weekend in Truro, Nova Scotia. With national teams centralized, the Olympic stars will not be participating and new players will have the opportunity to step into the spotlight and shine. Let’s take a look at the three teams based in Canada.
Team Sonnet Insurance from Toronto
Forwards: Jenna Dingeldein, Madison Field, Loren Gabel, Kelly Gribbons, Brittany Howard, Jess Jones, Becca King, Nicloe Kosta, Carolyne Prévost, Kristen Richards, Rachael Smith, Shannon Stewart, Kayla Vespa
Defenders: Katherine Bailey, Laura Fortino, Jacquie Greco, Ella Matteucci, Alexis Woloschuk
Goaltenders: Erica Howe, Amanda Makela, Kassidy Sauvé
General Manager: Rebecca Michael
Head Coach: Laura McIntosh
Assistant Coaches: PJ Michael, Adam Redmond, Kevin Stone
Staff: Patrick Franey, Claire Biafore, Ashley Guner, Claudia Pozzebon, Jamie Ryan
2021 Calgary Showcase
Team Sonnet went 2-3 in the Calgary bubble losing in the final.
Sonnet started the showcase weekend with a tough loss against team Bauer who out-goalied them. They lost 3-2 despite outshooting Bauer 42-31. Games two and three were successes for an offence heavy Sonnet scoring 8 goals against team Scotiabank and 4 against Bauer in a second matchup.
Scoring was Sonnet’s best strength putting up 18 goals from 11 different players in five games. They had an extremely deep forward group which would have served them well in a long season, but that of course was not the case. What Sonnet lacked strength in their own end, especially near the end of games. Sonnet never once trailed heading into a third period but conceded half of their goals against in the final frames.
Sonnet’s two wins in the round robin were enough to secure them a place in the final against Bauer. They were unable to change their narrative as Sonnet kept pace for two periods before losing the game in the third.
Returning: Fortino, Matteucci, Gabel, Howard, Stewart, Kosta, Field, Richards, Vespa, Makela
Ten players from the Calgary showcase will return to team Sonnet for the 2021-2022 PWHPA tour. Loren Gabel and Brittany Howard can be expected to lead Sonnet’s offence in Truro. With the Olympic players missing, these two will need to excel in an increased role.
Gabel who had just two points in the Calgary showcase should bounce back this year. A Patty Kazmaer winner, Gabel is best remembered for scoring three goals in under two and a half minutes for Clarkson in a 2018 playoff game. After her incredible college career, Gabel’s first two years post college have been stunted by COVID-19. With an increased role and more games under her belt, Gabel will hopefully flourish as an elite scorer this year.
Brittany Howard is another young player on the cusp of greatness in the PWHPA. Howard dominated scored in the CHA while playing for Robert Morris and saw initial success in the CWHL. In the Calgary showcase, Howard scored all her goals for the weekend at once in a hat trick performance against Scotiabank. A talented goal scorer from in close, Howard will benefit from ice time with strong playmakers like Gabel and Fortino.
Additions to Watch
Additions: Bailey, Greco, Woloschuk, Jones, Gribbons, Prevost, Dingeldein, Smith, King, Howe, Sauve.
Jess Jones has been a mainstay of women’s hockey over the last decade playing in the PWHPA, CWHL, NWHL, and NCAA. She is a versatile forward able to score and playmake both at five on five and special teams. Her best season came in 2017 when she “took the women’s hockey world by storm” and tied Marie-Philip Poulin for CWHL scoring. A career point per game player, Jones’ veteran presence will compliment Sonnet’s young talent.
Defender Katherine Bailey will make her PWHPA debut after a three-year break from elite hockey. Bailey played her university career with the Guelph Gryphons of U Sports’ OUA conference. In her freshman year, she was named to the U Sports all-star team and represented Canada at the world university games. Bailey’s abilities at the PWHPA level are a question mark, but with nothing to prove, hopefully she exceeds expectations in her debut season.
Team Harvey’s from Montreal
Forwards: Ann-Sophie Bettez, Emmanuelle Blais, Kim Deschenes, Catherine Dubois, Karell Emard, Maude Gelinas, Samantha Isbel, Alexandra Labelle, Tracy-Ann Lavigne, Sarah Lefort, Rebecca Leslie, Jordanna Peroff
Defenders: Catherine Daoust, Melanie Desrochers, Kaity Howarth, Kim Poirier, Lauriane Rougeau
Goaltenders: Marie Pier Coulombe, Marie-Soleil Deschenes, Genevieve Lacasse
Head Coach & General Manager: Daniele Sauvageau
Assistant Coaches: Stephanie Poirier, Philipe Trahan, Sabrina Lafrance
Goalie Coach: Olivier Michaud
Staff: Alexandra Pellerin, Shawn Giles, Meg Hewings, Alix Renaud-Roy
2021 Calgary Showcase
Team Harvey’s, formerly known as team Bauer, were the best Canadian team of 2021 going 4-1 in the Calgary showcase. The team was exceptional at all parts of their game scoring the most goals of the showcase and allowing the least. They scored on the power play, scored short-handed, and allowed just one goal on the penalty kill. Marie-Philip led the team and PWHPA in pointes and a star-studded goaltending trio of Emerance Maschmeyer, Geneviève Lacasse and Ann-Renée Desbiens.
Harvey’s started the tournament with two wins before conceding their only game to Sonnet. It was a game Harvey’s almost won scoring two late in the third cranking up the heat on a Sonnet team prone to poor third periods. Poulin scored with 50 seconds to play and probably would have scored the tying goal if the period were a minute longer. Nevertheless, Team Harvey’s won their next two games with more goal scoring and stellar goaltending.
This is not, however, to say Harvey’s was a perfect team. They averaged nearly ten penalty minutes a game. Goaltending and a solid penalty kill bailed them out of countless almost very bad situations. Eventually, the third period penalties will become a recipe for disaster.
Returning: Daoust, Rougeau, Bettez, Dubois, Emard, Isbell, Labelle, Lefort, Leslie, Genevieve
Team Harvey’s will also see ten players return this year.
Though they have lost two of Canada’s best goalies this year, their third elite goaltender, Geneviève Lacasse, will return. Lacasse only played one game in the Calgary showcase, but she has a long enough record of success to prove herself. Over seven seasons in the CWHL she maintained a .909 save percentage in the regular season. She also boasts a .964 in seven unbeaten playoff games good enough for two CWHL championships. Team Harveys’ defensive triumph should continue this year, partially on the shoulders of Lacasse.
Ann-Sophie Bettez has been a forward on a hockey team in Montreal for 15 years. After cégep, she played five years with McGill University followed by seven seasons in the CWHL with Montreal. Bettez’s three years in the PWHPA have all been in Montreal. A career point per game player with a long list of accolades, she is an elite player. Last year, Bettez had three points in four games proving she isn’t don’t. But honestly, it doesn’t matter if she scores. The experience and leadership she will bring to this team is more valuable than any goal she can score.
Additions: Desrochers, Howarth, Poirier, Blais, Deschenes, Gelinas, Lavigne
Saying Harvey’s has seven new players is – kind of – a lie. Five of them were named to the team last year but elected not to travel with the team to their only four games. Kaity Howarth and Emmanuelle Blais are the only truly new additions. Both of whom have relatively unknown potential for this season.
Blais is an experienced veteran returning to elite hockey for the first time since 2018. She saw great success in college before moving to the CWHL in 2010 where she was a key scorer for Montreal until her stats took a sharp drop-off in 2015.
Opposite to her, Kaity Howarth is a young defender coming out of Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia. Saint Mary’s is a strong team in the often-forgotten Atlantic conference of Canadian U Sports. She is untested at the top level of women’s hockey making her an intriguing player to watch.
The most significant addition to this team may be their new coach and general manager Danièle Sauvageau. A trailblazer in hockey with experience winning at all levels. After becoming the first female assistant coach in the QMJHL she took over the Canadian women’s national team winning Canada’s first women’s Olympic hockey gold in 2002.
As general manager at the Université de Montréal for seven years, Sauvageau has the experience to build and lead this team to success. Though some of her acquisitions are unproven, her decisions should be trusted!
Team Scotiabank from Calgary
Forwards: Kelty Apperson, Hanna Bunton, Samantha Cogan, Laura Dostaler, Iya Garilova, Rhianna Jurio, Amanda Pelkey, Sarah Potomak, Alexandra Pozinkoff, Leona Sim, Kaitlin Willoughby
Defenders: Natalie Fraser, Katelyn Gosling, Megan Grenon, Halli Kryzaniak, Brigette Lacquette, Brittaney Maschmeyer, Abby Thiessen
Goaltenders: Marlene Boissonnault, Kelseu Roberts
General Manager: Becky McGee
Assistant General Manager: Shonn Hilliard
Head Coach: Dean Seymour
Assistant Coaches: Katie Greenway, Brian Purdy
Staff: Charley Hasselaar, Joe Fisher
2021 Calgary Showcase
Team Scotiabank was disappointed by their results on home ice in Calgary winning just one of four games. They managed to score ten goals in those four games but conceded 20. Outclassed by the other two teams, Scotiabank struggled to keep up.
Losing their first two games 6-1 and 8-3 to Bauer and Sonnet respectively set Scotiabank too far back to recover in the short showcase. This was unfortunate considering the incredible individual performances of Blayre Turnbull, Rebecca Johnston, and Sarah Potomak.
Scotiabank’s lone win came in the final game against Sonnet. After Team Sonnet took a 1-0 lead in the first period, Scotiabank scored three straight with the game winning goal coming from Potomak.
Returning: Gosling, Lacquette, Grenon, Gavrilova, Potomak, Poznikoff, Willoughby, Cogan, Kurio, Dostaler, Bissonnault
Sarah Potomak returns for team Scotiabank after a red-hot weekend in Calgary last season. Those four games were her first in the PWHPA after five strong seasons in the NCAA. Her five goals in one weekend were matched only by Marie-Philip Poulin making Sarah Potomak the hottest player in the PWHPA right now. She has strong skating and puck protection allowing her to get into a position to use her lethal wrist shot. Scotiabank was a threat in their final games because of Potomak alone, if she continues this trajectory, the team will be a formidable opponent this year.
Not with the national team this year, Brigette Lacquette will remain a veteran presence on the Scotiabank blueline. Though once a top playmaking defender, Lacquette’s production has slowed in recent years. Lacquette often finds her way to the penalty box which hurts her team increasingly so as her productions declines. In Calgary, she had 14 penalty minutes and zero points in four games. Her experience and leadership are undeniable but as a growing defensive liability, her role on the team may shift from that of a top pair defender.
Additions: Krzyzaniak, Maschmeyer, Thiessen, Fraser, Pelkey, Apperson, Bunton, Sim
32-year-old defender Brittaney Maschmeyer will be an interesting new player to watch this year. She is the returning player who has gone the longest without playing professional hockey – six years. After four good years in the NCAA, Maschmeyer had an uneventful year in the CWHL. She then played one year in Switzerland scoring 10 points in 20 games. Her return to the top stage of women’s hockey will be an exciting storyline to watch.
Amanda Pelkey, though technically on the Scotiabank Roster last year, was unable to join the team for their games. She is an experienced forward who brings a lot of speed to the roster. Her ability to catch opponents off guard will pair nicely with other high skill players. She will likely be an effective member of a dangerous looking Scotiabank powerplay with a scorer like Potomak.