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PWHPA, Laval Rocket announce Place Bell doubleheader

Top women’s hockey returns to the city.

Shanna Martin

After hosting exhibition games, and three Team Canada mini camps, top-level women’s hockey will return to Montreal in December.

The Montreal chapter of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) will host the Minnesota chapter on December 28 as part of a double header with the Laval Rocket at Place Bell in Laval. The Rocket host the Toronto Marlies at 3:00 p.m. The PWHPA Pro-Challenge will be played at 6:30.

The announcement was made Thursday at the Bell Centre. Tickets for both games start at $19. It is $15 for just the PWHPA game.

The Montreal chapter features mainstays such as Emerance Maschmeyer, Marie-Philip Poulin, and Hilary Knight, as well as newcomers Laura Stacey, and Emily Clark among others. The Minnesota-Montreal women’s hockey rivalry includes Clarkson Cup final battles but this will be the first time they battle in Montreal. The Minnesota chapter includes Olympians Ann-Renée Desbiens, Hannah Brandt, Kacey Bellamy, and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando among others. Seventeen Olympians in total will be taking part.

“I know on the Minnesota team, we’ll have quite a few Americans that I’m used to playing against,” said Desbiens, who was in Montreal for a Team Canada mini camp this week. She also played two games for the Montreal chapter last weekend but smiles when she says she’ll be representing Team Minnesota in December. Desbiens was born Quebec but lives in Wisconsin where she played NCAA hockey.

Place Bell’s main arena hosted two Canadian Women’s Hockey League doubleheaders last season, with the biggest regular crowds of their season. After the season the league folded, leading to the formation of the PWHPA who are going around North America while pushing for a solution. Place Bell will be the biggest venue to host a PWHPA event to date in Canada. The PWHPA played the San Jose Sharks alumni in September at SAP Center at the Sharks fan fest.

“I feel a lot of people don’t really know what’s going on, what’s happening right now,” Desbiens said. “The hardest thing for us is to get people to come through the door for the first time. Once they see a game they like to come back, but I feel a lot of people don’t know. So to have venues that encourage people to come those are really important to us.”

The PWHPA Montreal chapter will also play a team from the Toronto chapter on December 20 as part of the Caroline Ouellette Girls Hockey Celebration. Previously, the PWHPA and Team Canada’s only games in Montreal have been exhibition games against men’s teams and women’s university teams or scrimmages.

The Dream Gap tour started with stops in Toronto, New Hampshire, and Chicago. Other tour stops have been announced for Toronto (January 11-12), and Philadelphia (dates to be announced). Montreal is expected to get a tour event at some point as well.

The Montreal chapter team made the first two Dream Gap tour finals, winning the Toronto showcase. The Chicago stop had mixed chapter teams as it took on a Canada vs USA format. Toronto’s event in January will be the biggest yet, hosting six teams playing two games each over the two days.