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Gender Equality Month

Rooney, Knight grateful for platform to grow women's game on PWHPA tour

Talent showcased before national television audiences on NBC Sports, NHL Network

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

The Professional Women's Hockey Players Association ended the second leg of its Secret Dream Gap Tour in Chicago on Sunday, and players were happy to get back on the ice and promote the game.

Team adidas defeated Team Women's Sports Foundation 6-2 at Fifth Third Arena on the second day of the Chicago Blackhawks Showcase. Team adidas also won 4-1 at United Center on Saturday, a game broadcast on NBCSN. The teams also played two games in the New York Rangers Showcase last weekend, including one at Madison Square Garden televised on NHL Network on Feb. 28.

"Obviously, these past two weekends have been awesome," Team adidas goalie Maddie Rooney said Sunday. "Just to play games again has been super. The venues we've been fortunate to play in is incredible. We're grateful for [NBC for] broadcasting. It's been great, and we're thankful for opportunities and looking forward to opportunities like this moving forward."

The PWHPA was formed to try to push for a sustainable women's professional hockey league and advocate for and advance equity, fairness and opportunity in women's hockey.

"These last two weekends have been huge for growth in women's hockey," Team adidas forward Ryleigh Houston said. "It's a big platform to get out our message, the value of women's hockey, to put forward that we can grow the game, attract an audience and make the sport diverse. We want to keep fighting for equality and keep growing the game as best we can."

Team adidas forward Dani Cameranesi said the support players have received has been great.

"I know we've gotten texts and messages and people being excited their young daughters can see they can be on TV, and that's special for us," she said. "The past couple of weeks, the high point is seeing the overall support we've received from all around the country and nation. Seeing everyone come together, rally around women's hockey and getting opportunities we haven't in the past."

Though a PWHPA spokesperson said nothing is imminent, future showcases at dates and sites to be determined are expected. Team adidas forward Hilary Knight said she'd love to see a game in St. Louis, site of the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star game and where players from the United States and Canada competed in the Elite Women's 3-on-3 presented by adidas. 

"When a club like the Blackhawks, Rangers, [Toronto] Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames you name it, gets involved and sees the value in what you're doing, it creates more opportunities," Knight said. "Many, many more amazing opportunities to come. We're only scratching the surface right now. We're very excited for the progress the PWHPA has made. Our players, our volunteers, our staff, everyone is working so hard to create more opportunities. When club support comes in and values those efforts, it's tremendous where the sport can go."

Regardless of when and where they play again, PWHPA members like the direction they're going.

"To have sponsors and partners step up like Secret and put on the Dream Gap Tour and get these games on the schedule is amazing for the sport," Knight said. "To have the visibility of NBC Sports broadcast is phenomenal. We're making history in women's history month. [There are] a lot of good things coming."

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