The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

CALGARY — The final three games of Canada’s Secret Cup women’s hockey tournament will be played in Calgary’s NHL arena.

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) has partnered with the Calgary Flames for its Dream Gap Tour tournament May 24-30 in Calgary.

Sixty players from the PWHPA’s three Canadian hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary will play a three-team, round-robin tournament with a final.

The first four games will be played in the Tsuut’ina Nations’ Seven Chiefs Sportsplex followed by three games, including the final, at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The final three games will be broadcast on Sportsnet and all games will be carried on its streaming services.

Calgary’s Secret Cup will be the first PWHPA event in Canada since Jan. 11-12, 2020 in Toronto because of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns across the country.

The last PWHPA games many of Canada’s top female hockey players participated in was a tournament March 6-8, 2020, in Arizona.

The women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia has been cancelled two straight years because of COVID.

Alberta health authorities approved pandemic protocols for Calgary’s Secret Cup.

The PWHPA adopted protocols used by Hockey Canada for the world junior men’s hockey championship, as well as national women’s and para hockey camps in Alberta in recent months.

“Congratulations to the PWHPA on the heavy lifting that goes into making an event like this come to fruition,” Calgary Sports and Entertainment president and CEO John Bean said Thursday in a statement.

“It’s crucial that these world class hockey players have a place to play and that hockey fans everywhere can see it.

“It’s also critical that the next generation know they belong in hockey and will always have a place to play.”

Montreal’s Bauer, Toronto’s Sonnet and Calgary’s Scotiabank will square off in a round-robin format with the top two teams meeting in the championship game May 30.

The rosters include Canadian players invited to try out for the 2022 Olympic team: Marie-Philip Poulin and Jill Saulnier (Bauer); Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse (Sonnet); Rebecca Johnston and Meaghan Mikkelson (Scotiabank).

The PWHPA, which includes Canadian and U.S. national team players, rose from the ashes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League that folded in 2019.

The goal of the roughly 150 players is a sustainable league that offers the competitive supports and training environments the male pros get, and wages that allow them to be professional athletes.

They’ve so far refused to join the six-team National Women’s Hockey League, which recently announced a doubling of each team’s salary cap to US$300,000 for next season.

The Toronto Six is the lone Canadian club in that league.

The PWHPA held a series of Dream Gap Tour tournaments and events across North America in 2019-20 before the global pandemic brought sport to a standstill.

The PWHPA’s American chapter has played a handful of games in the United States in recent weeks. A two-day tournament in St. Louis was postponed from early April to Monday and Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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