It was a great weekend of hockey at Cyclones Arena in Hudson, New Hampshire. Team Stecklein knocked off Team Flanagan 6-3 in the weekend’s opening game, while Team Knight scored a 3-1 victory over Team Lamoureux in the other Saturday tilt.
The crowds were terrific all weekend long, as hundreds of women’s hockey fans flooded Cyclones Arena to watch their heroes. The thing that struck me was the amount of young girls in their youth hockey jerseys, holding signs and cheering on their hockey idols. One group of girls told me on the game broadcast that it is amazing to have professional women to look up to. You could tell this was important to them, which makes the entire weekend worth it.
All the hard work from those who volunteered and worked this event was worth the smiles on the faces of the young girls in the building. I was also struck by the fans who drove from out of state, some even making then near 15 hour trek from Canada. Anyone who says there is no market for women’s hockey needs to see the attendance at these events. People care, and there is certainly an appetite for the game. Promote the product, air the product and market the product. If you do that, people will in fact come to games and watch games.
The games themselves proved to be entertaining, as expected. Team Stecklein and Team Flanagan kicked off the weekend with a terrific display of speed and skill. The game was even through 20 minutes, tied 1-1, before Team Stecklein took over in the middle frame. Hayley Scamurra was the standout player in this game, scoring twice and adding a pair of helpers. Scamurra looks like she has gotten even better since her outstanding career at Northeastern University. Her speed and skill was among the best on the ice, while her ability to make moves in tight spaces really stood out. Her first goal might have been the goal of the day.
Team Flanagan got a goal from Kali Flanagan on the powerplay in the third period, which pleased the Hudson crowd. In her home rink, Flanagan got arguably the loudest ovation in the early game. Nicole Anderson, player of the game for Team Flanagan, scored late to make things 5-3. Anderson was strong around the net all afternoon and was a pain in the side of Team Stecklein.
In the later game, the style changed. It was all speed and finesse early, but Team Lamoureux brought the physicality to the late tilt. Monique Lamoureux-Morando got into it early, taking a checking penalty and engaging in some pushing after the whistle. With most of the scrums this weekend, there was pushing and shoving but with smiles. Not here. There was no love lost between these two sides.
Although Team Lamoureux was more physical, Team Knight was simply better. They dominated this game, peppering Alex Cavallini. Cavallini was the best player in this game, stopping shot after shot to give Team Lamoureux a puncher’s chance. Just like in the first game, the scored was tied at one apiece heading into the middle frame.
Just like in the first game, the tides turned in that second period. Team Knight got goals from Jill Saulnier and Melanie Desrochers to jump out to a 3-1 lead they would not lose. Team Lamoureux had a few good chances in the third, but never really threatened Team Knight’s lead.
Day two saw Team Flanagan battle Team Lamoureux in the consolation game. Kelly Pannek opened the scoring 14 minutes into the opening frame, once again forcing Team Flanagan to play from behind. Just under 90 second later, Meghan Turner lit the lamp for the first time on the weekend to make it a 2-0 game.
Gig Marvin and Megan Keller scored within the first eight minutes of the second, bringing Team Flanagan back on even footing. Keller scored on an absolute bomb of a shot on the powerplay to swing momentum. Give credit to Team Lamoureux, they held the fort and stormed back after the push from Team Flanagan. Savannah Harmon notched a pair in the third period to push Team Lamoureux over the top, cementing a 5-2 victory in the consolation game. Harmon, thanks to her two goals, was named the Dunkin’ Player of The Game for Team Lamoureux.
The Championship game saw Team Knight and Team Stecklein battle it out in front of a sold out crowd at Cyclones Arena. Emily Janiga opened the scoring on a slapshot from the point, putting Team Knight behind for the first time all weekend. Marie-Philip Poulin would answer late, ripping a wrist shot home in the dying minutes of the period.
Just as they did on Saturday, Team Stecklein erupted in the second period and took the game over. Kendall Coyne-Schofield opened the scoring in the frame, then Hannah Brandt picked up her first of the weekend to make it 3-1. Genevieve Bannon got Team Knight within a goal late, but Coyne-Schofield scored her second of the period to rip the momentum back.
Jill Saulnier continued the back-and-forth in the third period, again dragging Team Knight within a goal. For the second time, however, Coyne-Schofield would put home the response marker. Her third of the game, and fourth of the weekend, opened up a 5-3 lead that was enough for Team Stecklein. Karell Emard got one with 4:04 to go for Team Knight, but it was too little too late as Team Stecklein claimed a 5-4 victory in the Championship.
Saulnier was named the Dunkin’ Player of The Game for Team Knight, while Coyne-Schofield, not surprisingly, got the nod for Team Stecklein.
The Dream Gap Tour will move to Chicago, taking place next weekend, October 18-20.