Originally published on October 14, 2022; Last updated October 19, 2022
The 2022-23 Secret Dream Gap Tour, hosted by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA), is underway. Competition began the weekend of October 15-16 in Montreal, Quebec, and continues on November 4-6 in Truro, Nova Scotia.
While this year’s competition will look more like a traditional hockey season, the Dream Gap Tour is not the PWHPA’s end goal. With that in mind, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions about the PWHPA, including an explainer on how rosters were determined, info on how to livestream games, a schedule of upcoming games, and an update on the organization’s long-term goal of launching a new women’s pro hockey league.
When and where is the PWHPA playing this season?
Results from the October 15-16 stop in Montreal, Quebec (Centre 21.02):
- October 15, 1:30 pm ET: Team Scotiabank 2, Team Sonnet 4
- October 15, 4:15 pm ET: Team Harvey’s 2, Team adidas 4
- October 16, 1:30 pm ET: Team adidas 0, Team Scotiabank 5
- October 16, 4:15 pm ET: Team Sonnet 2, Team Harvey’s 3 (SO)
Two additional stops have been announced as of October 19, 2022:
- November 4-6: Truro, Nova Scotia (Rath Eastlink Community Centre) — Note: Truro is one hour ahead of eastern time (ET)
- November 4, 3:30 pm ET: Team Scotiabank vs. Team Harvey’s
- November 4, 7:00 pm ET: Team adidas vs Team Sonnet
- November 5, 2:30 pm ET: Team Sonnet vs. Team Harvey’s
- November 5, 6:00 pm ET: Team Scotiabank vs. Team adidas
- November 6, 11:00 am ET: Team adidas vs. Team Sonnet
- November 6, 2:30 pm ET: Team Harvey’s vs. Team Scotiabank
- November 25-57: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania (UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex)
- November 26, 12:30pm ET: Team Harvey’s vs. Team adidas
- November 26, 3:30pm ET: Team Scotiabank vs Team Sonnet
- November 27, 11:30am ET: Team Sonnet vs. Team adidas
- November 27, 2:30pm ET: Team Scotiabank vs. Team Harvey’s
How can you watch PWHPA games?
Fans worldwide will be able to watch every PWHPA game this season via CBCsports.ca, the CBC Sports app, CBC Gem and the CBC Sports YouTube channel.
How were PWHPA rosters selected this year?
In a change from previous years, the four competing PWHPA teams — Team adidas, Team Harvey’s, Team Scotiabank and Team Sonnet — are no longer regionally determined.
“The goal from the beginning was really to create parity across the four teams and make it very competitive all season,” said PWHPA Operations Consultant Jayna Hefford.
While the PWHPA has traditionally used a tryout process for its regional sites, Hefford noted the timing of August’s IIHF Women’s World Championship made that complicated. The organization didn’t want to hold tryouts in July, when most players typically aren’t in hockey mode, but waiting until September wasn’t an option given that the organization’s player pool shrunk this year.
“We didn’t think (September) was fair for players who may not make a roster and then, at that point, wouldn’t have a chance to tryout for another team or another league,” said Hefford.
As a result, the PWHPA implemented a new ranking system. A nine-person selection committee — with experience in the NCAA, U Sports, and national governing bodies — began by providing the 150-plus players who registered with a skill rating and experience rating. In addition to the ranking process, players who weren’t with their respective national teams during the summer were invited to a more traditional tryout at the regional sites.
“No player in the PA knows what their ranking is, which I think is really great,” said Kristen Richards, who attended the tryout in Toronto and was ultimately named to Team Harvey’s. “So everybody kind of went into the tryout thinking, we’re gonna do our absolute best and do whatever it takes to make the team.”
Following the tryout, the PWHPA invited the top-100 players — based on their original ranking or their tryout score — to participate in the 2022-23 season.
The process of dividing the players into four 25-player rosters was also complicated, as Kristina Rutherford highlighted in this Sportsnet story, with everything from nationality to sponsorship affiliations playing a role. (Final PWHPA rosters are listed below.)
The new roster format will result in some players playing on the same team together for the first time, including the hypothetical — and thrilling — prospect of Canadian Sarah Nurse and Americans Amanda Kessel and Kendall Coyne Schofield competing on the same line for Team adidas.
“We’re mixing it up a little bit and there’s four star-studded rosters that we’re really excited about,” Coyne Schofield said ahead of the first stop in Montreal, adding that she didn’t yet know who her linemates would be.
Richards, who is based in Toronto, is personally excited to play with two players from Montreal: the legendary Marie-Philip Poulin (the “obvious” choice), as well as Karell Emard.
“We typically butt heads on the ice quite a bit, so it’ll be exciting to have her on my team this time around,” Richards said of Emard. “We always battle about who has the most penalties, too.”
How is the PWHPA organized?
Hefford serves as the PWHPA’s Operations Consultant, while the organization’s strategic decisions are made by its board, which consists of nine current and former players: Jocelyne Lamoureux Davidson, Karell Emard, Alyssa Gagliardi, Brianne Jenner, Hilary Knight, Sarah Nurse, Noora Raty, Kimberly Sass, and Kendall Coyne Schofield.
“I bring suggestions to them, or if our advisory board has suggestions, I’ll bring those to the board. And ultimately, the board decides how they want to proceed,” Hefford explained.
“I think trusting the process and trusting the leadership is a huge part of being a player and being a member of the PWHPA — and understanding that you’re not going to know the ins and outs of every conversation, every phone call,” Richards said of what it’s like for non-board members.
“As players, we’re not used to non-disclosures. … There’s some information that some players will be privy to and there’s going to be information that players aren’t. The best thing about being in the PWHPA is that my job right now is to show up, play hockey, and put the best product on the ice… while I’m trusting that the others are doing their best to build what is going to be the future of women’s hockey.”
While the nine-player PWHPA board makes the big decisions, they aren’t the people doing the groundwork or crunching the numbers on market prospects.
“We’ve spent the last year-and-a-half or so working with the team at Deloitte and other industry experts and developing our own business plan for a women’s professional league,” explained Hefford. “We felt like it was time for us to take control of our own destiny and not wish and hope for anybody else to do that. So it’s been a really empowering process for our players and our board.”
Do players make money playing in the Dream Gap Tour?
PWHPA players receive stipends for competing in the Secret Dream Gap Tour, and there is also the potential to earn prize pool money. While Hefford said that players will be compensated more this season than in the past, she noted that player contracts are still being finalized and that the organization won’t be announcing figures until that process is completed.
How close is the PWHPA to launching its own hockey league?
To be clear: the Secret Dream Gap Tour is not the PWHPA’s end goal, even if this year looks more like a traditional season.
The PWHPA formed in May 2019 after more than 200 players announced they would be sitting out the 2019-20 season, essentially boycotting the then NWHL (later rebranded as the PHF). While the Dream Gap Tour has served as a stop-gap solution in recent years, most of the organization’s work has been happening behind-the-scenes and away from social media.
In May, the PWHPA signed a letter of intent with Billie Jean King Enterprises and the Mark Walter Group, with the goal of creating a new women’s professional hockey league.
It was previously reported that a PWHPA-led league (seperate from the Dream Gap Tour) would launch in January 2023, but that timeline has since shifted, and this season’s Dream Gap Tour will continue through March.
“When I’m up close to it as a player, I wanted it (a new women’s pro league) yesterday. I think we all did,” PWHPA board member Hilary Knight told On Her Turf in August.
At the Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Gala on Wednesday night, Billie Jean King confirmed that talks with the PWHPA are ongoing. “We’re doing due diligence and we’ll see what happens,” she said.
But the connection between King and the PWHPA extends beyond their current letter of intent.
In 1970, the “original nine” in tennis — led by King — broke away from the men’s tennis tour to take a stand for equal pay, despite warnings from U.S. tennis officials.
“We were willing to give up our careers,” King remarked ahead of the first Dream Gap Tour stop, noting that she’s seen the same in the PWHPA.
“They’re willing to give up their careers for the future generations so I really admire them. … You have to visualize where you want to go, see the dream, and then you have to build it. And that’s not easy. It’s really not easy.”
This isn’t some theoretical concept for Richards, who knows she might not play in the league that eventually launches.
“For me, I hope the PA gets so good that, at some point, I don’t make this league,” she explained. “Our goal as the PWHPA was always to create something that was much bigger than ourselves.”
What will the future league include that doesn’t currently exist?
Things like a living wage and health coverage are just two bullets on the PWHPA’s laundry list of requirements. Other highlights include team medical staff, player representation, and arena standards.
“It’s very easy for a lot of people to be like, ‘This is the girls complaining. They don’t have enough, they want to make millions of dollars like the NHL.’ No, we don’t. We want basic employee rights, where we have parameters around our work day and we have access to the needs of professional athletes,” PWHPA Advisor Liz Knox told On Her Turf last spring.
“We’ve been saying for years now that it’s not just about the salaries,” echoed Hefford on Friday. “If it were about salaries, our players would be playing in various leagues around the world. It’s really about infrastructure and the resources… and that’s why it’s taking as long as it is — because those things don’t happen overnight.”
The importance of proper infrastructure has only been emphasized in recent weeks. The U.S.-Soccer commissioned Yates report detailed how the lack of basic workplace protections in the NWSL created an environment in which abuse could thrive.
Following the release of the Yates report, On Her Turf reached out to a variety of women’s pro leagues — both established and those in planning mode — about whether they have or plan implement an anti-harassment policy. PWHPA media consultant Ashley McLellan confirmed that player safety policies (including an anti-harassment policy) will be implemented from the beginning of their planned league.
“What’s happened recently with both the Yates report and the Hockey Canada situation, it’s a good reminder that we need to ensure (a strong foundation) and we have an opportunity to do it from day one,” Hefford said.
“I read some of the comments from the soccer players that they just wanted to play, they just wanted to be in a league. And our players feel the same way and that’s what’s made this so challenging is that they just want to play. I get that. As a former player, I feel the same way. But I think we also have a lot of comfort in knowing that we are doing this the right way, we are doing the work that — in our minds — has never been done for women’s professional hockey.”
PWHPA Rosters – 2022-23 Secret Dream Gap Tour
- Defenders: Emily Curlett, Jessica Digirolamo, Jincy Dunne, Megan Eady, Renata Fast, Halli Krzyzaniak, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson
- Forwards: Kendall Coyne Schofield, Samantha Donovan, Laura Dostaler, Kelly Gribbons, Jess Jones, Amanda Kessel, Sarah Nurse, Kristin O’Neill, Sarah Potomak, Jill Saulnier, Laura Stacey, Kayla Vespa, Kaitlin Willoughby
- Goaltenders: Aerin Frankel, Maddie Rooney, Sydney Scobee, Shea Tiley
- Staff: Matt Leitner (GM/Head Coach)
- Defenders: Mellissa Channell, Laura Fortino, Jacquie Greco, Savannah Harmon, Kristen Richards, Lauriane Rougeau, Lee Stecklein
- Forwards: Emily Clark, Rosalie Demers, Jessie Eldridge, Karell Emard, Alexa Gruschow, Rhianna Kurio, Bailey Larson, Marie-Philip Poulin, Alexandra Poznikoff, Jamie Lee Rattray, Hayley Scamurra, Sophia Shaver
- Goaltenders: Marlène Boissonnault, Ann-Renée Desbiens, Geneviève Lacasse
- Staff: Danièle Sauvageau (GM/Head Coach)
- Defenders: Jaime Bourbonnais, Mélanie Desrochers, Katelyn Gosling, Megan Keller, Brigette Lacquette, Makayla Langei, Cat Quirion, Ella Shelton
- Forwards: Victoria Bach, Alex Carpenter, Mélodie Daoust, Madison Field, Grace Graham, Rebecca Johnston, Nicole Kosta, Hayley Lunny, Kelly Pannek, Tatum Skaggs, Natalie Spooner, Blayre Turnbull
- Goaltenders: Kristen Campbell, Amanda Makela, Emerance Maschmeyer
- Staff: Becky McGee (GM), Dean Seymour (Head Coach)
- Defenders: Erin Ambrose, Leah Bohlken, Lilian Braga, Emily Brown, Emma Buckles, Ella Matteucci, Nikki Nightengale, Claire Thompson, Micah Zandee-Hart
- Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Hanna Bunton, Samantha Cogan, Demi Crossman, Iya Gavrilova, Brianne Jenner, Hilary Knight, Rebecca Leslie, Carolyne Prévost, Abby Roque, Malia Schneider, Natasza Tarnowski
- Goaltenders: Lindsay Browning, Nicole Hensley, Erica Howe
- Staff: Rebecca Michael (GM), Laura McIntosh (Head Coach)
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