After a successful game at MSG the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour had its next game at the United Centre in Chicago. Kendall Coyne Schofield was the focus for much of the broadcast given her ties to the city: she grew up just outside the city, and is a player development coach for the NHL franchise that uses this very same arena. In an interview aired before the game she mentioned she always dreamed of playing at the United Centre. Given the lack of opportunities and platforms for women playing hockey as she grew up, she assumed she’d never get the chance.
She and her PWHPA counterparts got to play and showcase their talent once again. Just like the first two games in the series: it did not disappoint.
If you have been following from the beginning of my mini-series on these games you’ll remember the standings points in these games is not solely based on wins/losses. I really wanted to see how it would impact the game in small tactical choices. I was given an answer less than halfway through the first period when Team Adidas threw Coyne and Hilary Knight over the boards to kill a penalty. Getting that shorthanded goal has much more value now that it gives you a direct point in the standings. It was a strategy Team Adidas and Team WSF would use throughout the game. A penalty-kill tandem that poses a threat to score makes it harder to operate a proper power-play. Ask anyone that plays the Carolina Hurricanes on a regular basis. Overall this push for goals leads to more chaos and mistakes. Hockey is fun when there are more mistakes.
As I was still in an appreciation daydream about skilled forwards killing penalties the hottest hands in hockey scored yet again. It’s every day with Abby Roque, like clockwork. The puck finds her. “Something, something, the puck finds good players, something, something,” that’s gotta be a direct quote from a HockeyManTM at some point right? Abby Roque swats that magnetic puck right into the net and Team Adidas have the first goal.
Maddie Rolfes would give us virtually no break in action as she scored less than two minutes later. A weird bounce off her wraparound attempt goes in and Team Adidas have a two goal lead.
Team Adidas kept flying as they got a power-play late in the first period. They didn’t score but they did a lot of the things I want to see: movement (both puck and skater) and East-West passes. These were impressive attempts, particularly Savannah Harmon. She can move the puck as well as anyone.
It was impressive enough to note down and have it as a writing prompt. It became easier to do when, halfway through the second period she pulled a stunner. Noticing she has no clear shooting lane she keeps the puck for an extra second and finds a WIDE OPEN Coyne Schofield (in real time I didn’t even notice she made this decision, I had it pointed out to me by a much smarter hockey mind). I mean there was no one even near the same area code as Coyne here. Defensive breakdown is not harsh enough. Can’t forget to cover an offensive threat like her.
The third period was the attempt by Team WSF to eliminate the shutout by Hensley, who had been playing so well.
Amanda Kessel must have been muttering some nasty words after Hensley stopped what would have been the goal of the week in hockey (yes I saw the Matt Barzal goal today, this would have been nastier).
Even the Team WSF power-play could not solve Hensley. Two disallowed goals kept the shutout going. The Brianna Decker high stick goal was close, I really thought they’d give it to her, but given the call on the ice was no goal, it would be almost impossible to overturn without significant evidence.
As Team Adidas scored an empty net goal we all assumed the game was over. Minnesota would escape with two points from the win and one point from the shutout
Except that’s not at all what happened.
In the final moments of the game Coyne and Roque were on a 2on1. To try and get another extra point in the standings (a hat-trick is an added point) Coyne forced a pass to Roque. The pass was broken up and the puck was brought down the ice.
With 12 seconds left in the game Amanda Kessel makes a wonderful pass to Brianna Decker who had been left wide open (again, you CANNOT leave a player that good alone) and she buried the goal to ruin Hensley’s shutout AND cost Team Adidas an extra point. The kind of drama you could only get with these awesome rules. I LOVE THE RULES.
What a way to end a fantastic game.
On to tomorrow! (please do not remind me the Leafs lost, I am enjoying reliving the only good game of the day)