The PWHPA’s Historic Weekend

Madison Square Garden hosted the second game of the 2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour

By Alex Holmes

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association began its 2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour in historic fashion by playing the first professional women’s ice hockey game at Madison Square Garden.

2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour (SOURCE: PWHPA)

The PWHPA’s Team Adidas and Team Women’s Sports Foundation played two games last weekend, one in New Jersey and one at Madison Square Garden. Team Adidas, the regional team from Minnesota, won the first contest 5-2 with goals from Abby Roque, Savannah Harmon, Ryleigh Houston, and Kendall Coyne Schofield.

The rematch at Madison Square Garden was broadcast live on the NHL Network and Sportsnet. Team WSF, based out of New Hampshire, got their revenge by winning 4-3. A trio of Team USA gold medalists led the way for Team WSF. Brianna Decker scored two goals, and Amanda Kessel and Haley Skarupa each netted one goal apiece.

Team USA players Brianna Decker, Kendall Coyne Schofiled, and Amanda Kessel starred in the PWHPA’s game at Madison Square Garden.

The 2021 Dream Gap Tour continues March 6–7 in Chicago. Team Adidas and Team WSF will play two more times over the weekend. Saturday’s match will be played in the United Center, home of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. The game will air live on the NBC Sports Network (3 P.M. EST).

The PWHPA partnered with the NHL’s New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Toronto Maple Leafs for the Secret Dream Gap Tour. Each NHL team agreed to host a PWHPA game during the tour. With the Rangers hosting the first two games and the Blackhawks hosting the next two games, the Maple Leafs will announce their hosting schedule when Canada’s COVID-19 protocols allow it. A complete tour schedule is forthcoming. 

Playing at Madison Square Garden is a monumental event for the PWHPA and for women’s hockey as a whole. Founded in 1879, the arena is one of the country’s most famous sports and entertainment venues. Madison Square Garden is the home of the NBA’s New York Knicks, the NHL’s New York Rangers, and the Big East and NIT men’s college basketball tournaments. 

Though the venue has primarily hosted men’s sporting events, the WNBA’s New York Liberty played its games at Madison Square Garden for almost 20 seasons. The PWHPA now joins a select group of female athletes who have played in the nation’s iconic arena. Hopefully they will just be one of many women’s professional sports teams who will have an opportunity to play there in years to come.

The PWHPA at MAdison Square Garden (SOURCE: The Athletic)

The PWHPA game at Madison Square Garden earned plenty of support from the media, and generated excitement across social media as well. The game should also help create more brand exposure for the association as its number of high-profile sponsors continues to grow. Already big names like Adidas, the NHL Players’ Association, and Budweiser have come on board.  

The goal of the 2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour is to enhance visibility of the professional women’s ice hockey game in the United States and Canada, and between the PWHPA and the NWHL, that exposure looks to be growing faster than ever. 

Fans will have several opportunities to watch women’s hockey over the next few weeks. The PWHPA continues its tour next weekend. Along with their Saturday afternoon game (NBCSN, 3.P.M. EST), Team Adidas and Team WSF will also play Sunday, March 7, at 11:30 A.M. EST. This match will stream live on the CBC Gem App and CBC Sports App

The NWHL has hopes to finish its 2021 season and crown the Isobel Cup champion in the coming months, and the PWHPA’s year isn’t done yet.  More information on the PWHPA and the 2021 Secret Dream Gap Tour is available here.

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