Alongside local partner AT&T, Blackhawks partnership advances equity in hockey leading into the celebration of International Women’s Day
NBC Sports to present March 6 game nationally across U.S. on NBCSN featuring Kate Scott (play-by-play), A.J. Mleczko (analyst) and Kathryn Tappen (host)
CHICAGO (February 16, 2021) – The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) continued its momentum today announcing its third 2021 partnership with a National Hockey League team. The Chicago Blackhawks will host 2021 Secret® Dream Gap Tour games at the United Center on Saturday, March 6, and Fifth Third Arena on Sunday, March 7, as well as help market the showcase featuring the world’s best hockey players.
“Returning to Chicago builds upon past successes in women’s hockey at the United Center,” said Jayna Hefford, PWHPA operations consultant and 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee. “Our athletes are excited to play at the United Center. More than the game, this partnership helps advance our mission of creating a sustainable pro women’s hockey league that showcases the outstanding skills of our athletes and allows young girls to dream just as the boys do today.”
“We are extremely proud for Chicago to be the only U.S. city to host the Secret® Dream Gap Tour games twice since PWHPA’s inception,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Chicago is the greatest sports town in the country, and we commend the many athletes who are breaking barriers and inspiring the next generation of young women who take the game and the athletic world to even greater heights.”
The Chicago showcase takes place on the anniversary weekend of the first-ever all-female crew broadcast of an NHL game, which was presented by NBC Sports and took place at the United Center on International Women’s Day last year (Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues on March 8, 2020). Two-time Olympic medalist and local Chicagoan Kendall Coyne Schofield – a PWHPA player and board member who will play in the Chicago showcase – was part of the NBC Sports broadcast crew for that game. Since that time she was hired as the Blackhawks’ first female Player Development Coach as well as formalized her Youth Hockey Growth Specialist role with the team. Building on these historic milestones, NBC Sports will present live coverage of the March 6 game on NBCSN in the U.S. at 2 p.m. CT. Kate Scott will handle play-by-play duties alongside NBC Sports’ A.J. Mleczko (analyst) and Kathryn Tappen (host).
“The Blackhawks are thrilled to once again welcome the PWHPA into our home campus, the United Center and community ice rink Fifth Third Arena, as they bring the exciting and competitive women’s game to a national audience from Chicago,” said Jaime Faulkner, Chicago Blackhawks President of Business Operations. “The outpouring of support from across the nation that both Kendall and I received after recently joining the Blackhawks organization shows that women having a seat at the table matters. Girls and young women, including my own daughters, are increasingly seeing themselves as part of our sport’s future, and we hope to sustain that momentum and visibility through this important partnership with the PWHPA and beyond.”
Supporting the series in Chicago, AT&T will serve as the local presenting sponsor.
Comprised of approximately 125 of the world’s best hockey players, the PWHPA was formed to advocate for and advance equity, fairness and opportunity in women’s professional hockey. Specifically, the group’s goal is to create a sustainable league that pays a living wage to players, provides appropriate elite-level resources and invests in marketing that showcases the players and game.
“Unlike any other platform, NHL teams can elevate women’s pro hockey to the next level,” said Mary-Kay Messier, a senior advisor to the PWHPA and VP of Global Marketing for Bauer Hockey. “NHL teams bring infrastructure and community, which attract corporate sponsors who want to align with the equity movement in sports. A more diverse game is a better game, and by partnering, NHL teams help grow a key hockey segment, make the game more welcoming and gain access to powerful female role models.”
On February 28 at 7 p.m. ET, the PWHPA will play the final game of the Dream Gap Tour New York showcase at Madison Square Garden before heading to Illinois for the Chicago showcase. The first game of the Chicago showcase will be played March 6 at 2 p.m. CT at the United Center, followed by a game on March 7 at 10:30 a.m. CT at Fifth Third Arena. The Toronto Maple Leafs committed on February 6 to a partnership with the PWHPA, including hosting a game when Canadian government regulations allow it.
Additional showcases for the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour will be added in the United States and Canada, and all games and logistics will adhere to local guidelines.