The Dream Gap Tour begins on Friday at Oceanside Arena in Tempe. 34 of the best women's players in North America will face-off against each other in two exhibition contests before competing against Arizona Coyotes Alumni on Sunday.
Of the names coming to the Valley, many carry decorated playing resumes that include Collegiate National Championships, Olympic Gold Medals, NWHL Titles, and spotlight performances at the previous two NHL All-Star Games.
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"If you're watching now, if you're paying attention, these girls are really skilled, they're really good players, so it's pretty impressive," said Phil Kessel , whose sister, Amanda, is playing in the jamboree.
Amanda is the youngest of three. She grew up playing alongside her two brothers, and all three siblings developed to play in the professional circuit.
"We're a competitive family," Phil added. "So, every time we played any games or anything, Amanda was in there fighting with us and being with us. She was good at every sport growing up, not just hockey."
Despite being a multi-faceted athlete, Amanda, like her brothers, stuck with hockey. The accolades tell the story.
The 28-year-old won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics and has also won three gold medals at the IIHF Women's World Championship tournament (2013, 2017, 2019).
Kessel became the first player to score a hat-trick in NWHL All-Star history in 2017. She was also named the game's Most Valuable Player that year.
"I mean, look at her career," Phil said. She's won all of those national championships and an Olympic gold medal. She's had a great career, and hopefully she can keep going for a couple more years."
The players will be split into two teams for the two exhibition games. The rosters will be captained by Scottsdale, Arizona natives Katie McGovern and Makenna Newkirk.
McGovern won the NWHL's 2019 Isobel Cup as a member of the Minnesota Whitecaps. Newkirk served as captain of the Boston College women's team during her junior and senior NCAA years.
Team McGovern: Ann-Renee Desbiens, Amanda Makela, Rebecca Leslie, Katie McGovern, Laura Stacey, Haley Skrupa, Melodie Daoust, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Megan Myers, Rebecca Johnston, Brigette Lacquette, Renata Fast, Lee Stecklein, Laura Fortino, Rachel Ade, Josiane Pozzebon, Amanda Kessel
Team Newkirk: Katie Burt, Brittany Ott, Brianna Decker, Makenna Newkirk, Dani Cameranesi, Sarah Nurse, Sophia Shaver, Cassidy Vinkle, Blayre Turnbull, Kendall Coyne, Mikaela Gardner, Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Chelsea Ziadie, Jocelyne Larocque, Emily Matheson, Dakota Woodworth
All games will be played at Oceanside Arena at the following days and times:
- Friday, March 6: Team McGovern vs. Team Newkirk - 7:30 PM
- Saturday, March 7: Team McGovern vs. Team Newkirk - 3:00 PM
- Sunday, March 8: PWHPA vs. Arizona Coyotes Alumni - 12:30 PM
Lyndsey Fry, the Coyotes' Manager of Marketing & Special Projects, who also oversees the Arizona Kachinas Youth Girls Hockey Association, will play with the Arizona Coyotes Alumni team for Sunday's game.
Fry, a former teammate and opponent of many of the women playing this weekend, won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics and a gold medal with Team USA at the 2013 IIHF Women's World Championship tournament.
Photo Credit [All - Amanda Kessel]: Kaci Demarest - Arizona Coyotes