Credit: Courtney/Flickr Creative Commons

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Riley Chadwick grew up in Annapolis with little exposure to women’s hockey outside of the Olympics. And even though Chadwick competed as a goalie for the women’s club hockey team at the University of Maryland, she never saw herself represented on the ice. This weekend, the 24-year-old Chadwick will finally get that chance. 

From March 4 to 6, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, in partnership with the Washington Capitals, will play four games of their 2021-22 Secret Dream Gap Tour at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. The D.C. showcase, which will include Olympians and U.S. and Canadian national team players, is the final stop on the tour, and teams are vying for the fourth weekend prize pot of the 2021-22 campaign. 

“Being able to finally see a group that represents not just me, but other young women, is incredible and I think the showcase coming here will inspire women and girls that not only can they play hockey, they have professional players that they can look to for guidance and inspiration,” Chadwick tells City Paper.

The PWHPA is in its third season and has played in three previous stops on the Dream Gap Tour this year, along with inter-region games and exhibition games against local clubs. The league’s mission is to “promote, advance, and support a single, viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America that showcases the greatest product of women’s professional ice hockey in the world.” Premier Hockey Federation, another pro women’s hockey league in North America, was founded in 2015.

PWHPA’s Team adidas (Minnesota), Team Bauer (Boston), Team Scotiabank (Calgary), and Team Sonnet (Toronto) will face off in four games over the weekend. Team Scotiabank will make its return after not attending the Ottawa stop to close out February. Scotiabank is undefeated this season, and rookie Sarah Potomak has two goals and four assists in six games and sits near the top of the PWHPA leaderboard.

Meanwhile, Team adidas will look to make an impact after falling to Team Sonnet in Ottawa before winning the consolation game against Team Bauer. Annie Pankowski, who has five points in four games, and netminder Shae Tilley, a PWHPA All-Star, highlight the team. Bailey Coyne, the sister of U.S. Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield, will also suit up for Minnesota.

Team Sonnet wants to make a statement after dropping the title game to Team Harvey’s (Montreal) during the showcase in Ottawa on Feb. 27. Loren Gabel scored the lone goal for Toronto in that matchup, and Brittany Howard has been a catalyst for the team. 2022 Olympic gold medalist Victoria Bach of Canada will be looking to make her mark as well.

For Team Bauer, Alexa Grusschow leads the way offensively and defender Cat Quirion, a former captain of Colgate University, is a solid puck-moving blueliner and a skilled shot-blocker and presence in her own zone. 

The tournament kicks off Friday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m. with a tilt between Team Bauer and Team Sonnet. Then on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., Team adidas will face off against Team Scotiabank. The winners of those two games will advance to the championship game, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The consolation game will be at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. The Capitals and PWHPA will also host clinics for local players that feature instruction from PWHPA athletes, coaches, and the Capitals youth hockey development staff. There will be a youth clinic, adult clinic, and a clinic for elite players ages 13 and up. The adult clinic will feature a Q&A with PWHPA chairperson Jayna Hefford and players about the league and the current landscape for professional women’s hockey.

Photo by Courtney, used under the Creative Commons BY 2.0 license.