The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, March 5, 2021

Hot and Not from PWHPA Dream Gap Tour — Interview with Hilary Knight — Must-click women's hockey links

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The PWHPA Dream Gap Tour returns

The players of the PWHPA took on New York and New Jersey last week. It was the first time this hockey season the barnstorming group hit the ice for the 2021 Dream Gap Tour. Feel good vibes were high and for good reason, we got more women’s hockey.

Yes, more!

That is because the NCAA, Russian league, Swedish league, Swiss League, and of course the NWHL all debuted before the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour. Make no mistake, having a game played at Madison Square Garden and on national TV was groundbreaking. That said, there is still more work to do. Here is what’s hot and what’s not about the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour.


Blake Bolden making her broadcast debut!


Um, the Saturday feed. The PWHPA is clear they want a more professional option than what exists right now, but this ain’t it.


Media Resources! It can be so hard to find post-game media information in WoHo period. It is even more essential to coverage during a worldwide pandemic. These notes were the best I’ve ever seen on the pro side.


WoHO Erasure! We get it, the PWHPA doesn’t believe the NWHL is viable. But, they are still here. They are paying athletes. And a lot of PWHPA athletes played there and won championships there. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:

I don’t like a lot of my old jobs, but I still list them on my resume!

For more hot and not, watch my latest Twitch stream. I also unveiled #BlackRosie.

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This Week in Women’s Hockey

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Must-Click Links

Brianna Decker is still AMAZING at hockey.

The Sports League That Refuses to Court Certain Fans.

CBC Sports invites Shireen Ahmed and Renee Hess to discuss representation in sport and why it matters.

SportsNet catches up with Blake Bolden.

Melissa Burgess & Nick Lippa chat about the #NDubble.

Abby Roque, that is all!

Mikyla Grant-Mentis joins the Soul on Ice Podcast.

Bemidji State feels slighted by condensed WCHA Final Faceoff.

How One Sports Season Fell Apart, Even in a Bubble.

Women’s Worlds set for a May start.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Hilary Knight

Photo by Troy Parla

You were just in New York for the first stop for the Dream Gap Tour. A lot was made obviously about playing at Madison Square Garden which is fantastic but I’m curious to get your thoughts on some of the biggest lessons that you personally took from the first year of the PWHPA. What have been some of the biggest changes and evolutions from Year 1 to Year 2?

If I look back on the first year, I was pleasantly surprised with the success of the the original Dream Gap Tour. I think the humility and the courage that the players bring to the entire process is outstanding and something that should be applauded. I think we realize how greatly an association like this can help bridge the gap from not having the adequate resources and the competition schedules and all the other things that we don’t necessarily think about, we just see these players on TV competing and playing and doing their best. So, you know, I think, if anything, we realize how much of a need an organization like this has been over the last, I guess now it’s two years.

And then entering in Year 2, we have the global pandemic. Trying to problem solve on the fly and do our best with health & safety concerns in mind but also provide some continuity of work for people because people have been waiting for the game for so long. I know our fans are are starving for these games which is great and I’m happy we’re able to finally have success in Madison Square Garden. Now we’re entering into another game at the United Center in Chicago, (there are) so many great things coming.

The ultimate goal for the PWHPA is to have a sustainable league and to have athletes be paid. What are some strides that you think the PWHPA has been able to take and what are some of the the next steps that you hope will happen in Year 3 and beyond?

I mean if even if you just look at the time right now – and considering we’re hopefully at the end of this pandemic obviously things will look different when everything opens back up again – our team has been able to secure, amazing partnerships and build on those partnerships and cultivate a deeper network that’s providing more value to our Player Associations and in addition we have clubs that grants. The Chicago Blackhawks and Leafs were supportive of us in the past and the Flyers, the list goes on.

But now, more organizations are starting to see value in what we’re doing, or at least wanting to be a part of it now in Year 2, which is great. I guess it’s not necessarily something you expect when there’s so much uncertainty in the future with a health crisis and businesses, and the sport industry losing billions of dollars and whatnot. So to have, whether it’s brands step up or clubs step up and help facilitate the growth of our sports professional level is really reassuring.

Photo by Troy Parla
Photo by Troy Parla

Bauer has stepped up we got the news this week that the Montreal hub that will be their title sponsor. You were one of the players in Black History Month to wear the special Wille O’Ree Bauer skates. What is your take on custom gear on the women’s hockey side? What excites you about what Bauer and Verbero (Blake Bolden has a signature stick & Kimberly Sass is a brand ambassador) are doing?

I think first and foremost our priority has been getting equipment right (laughs) … and to now have the ability to customize things, it’s incredible … especially the women involved on the forefront of some of these things and should be able to provide equipment in it, not necessarily in a traditional way that we’ve seen before. So, it’s a it’s a really cool upcoming, I don’t know if you want to call it a trend, but sort of evolution of equipment, so it’s great!

I’m sure you’re doing your own training but these are live games. How did your off-ice prepare you for playing last weekend?

Yeah, make no mistake about it, it’s hard to replicate the intensity of the game and we do our best in our small game atmosphere. But it was it was thrilling to hop back on the ice … nothing really replicates the reps of an actual game experience. So to finally be on the ice – maybe the nerves were heightened because it was at The Garden – but I remember you know it was just like … this is so much fun. The first game that we played it wasn’t that the garden was a little bit more of like, “Oh man, let’s let’s get our feet underneath us here. Let’s get accustomed to the pace.”

I’m really looking forward to more games because it’s just going to settle in at a higher pace … that later half will be will be a little bit easier, which is nice.

For you, and a lot of other players in the PWHPA we’re starting to get to residency and centralization. Have there been conversations about what that will look like and how the PWHPA will manage as players prepare for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing?

To be honest, I think the focus is really just been just been about putting players on the ice for this season. Obviously those conversations are happening as we look forward to next season. But right now, we’re really focused on the plan. We’re running out of weekends right, especially once the world championship games get locked in to try out all these crazy things that are going.

The strength of the association and play in the movement essentially is the players. I’m excited for whatever next year does look like for whomever is involved. Like I said, we had a crazy Year 1 and now Year 2 … really looking forward to putting the the global pandemic stuff in our rearview and being able to plan for a more legitimate season will be nice.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By Sarah Kellam @sarahkellam, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala