Minnesota defeats New Hampshire to claim U.S. Secret Cup in St. Louis

Kendall Coyne Schofield scored the game-winning goal as Team Adidas (Minnesota) defeated Team Women’s Sports Foundation (New Hampshire) 4-2 on Monday in the final game of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) Dream Gap Tour showcase in St. Louis.

The victory crowns Minnesota as the first-ever U.S. Secret Cup Champions after finishing atop the standings following the three U.S. showcases this year.

The game was played at the Enterprise Center, home of the St. Louis Blues, one of five NHL teams to partner with the PWHPA in 2021.

Minnesota applied pressure from the opening whistle to establish momentum. New Hampshire goalie Katie Burt made several key stops to weather the storm, but Minnesota scored just over six minutes into the game when Annie Pankowski found the back of the net after receiving a pass in front.

WATCH | Team Adidas (Minnesota) vs. Team Women’s Sports Foundation (New Hampshire):

Team Adidas (Minnesota) battles Team Women’s Sports Foundation (New Hampshire) at the Dream Gap Tour showcase in St. Louis. 2:07:19

New Hampshire attempted to even things up moments later but were denied by Minnesota goalie Maddie Rooney, who came up with a big pad save on a 2-on-1 opportunity.

Star player Hilary Knight came close to giving Minnesota an insurance goal with just under seven minutes to go in the opening frame, but her shot ended up hitting the right post after fooling Burt.

New Hampshire then stormed back, leading to an equalizer goal from Alexa Gruschow off a big rebound. Rooney was hindered from stopping the shot when she got caught up with teammate Sophia Shaver after the forward fell back onto her while trying to defend the scoring chance.

Burt shut down a breakaway chance from Minnesota’s Abby Roque in the second period. Another close chance occurred a couple minutes later when Minnesota’s Dani Cameranesi secured a breakaway of her own, only to have the door slammed shut by Burt.

New Hampshire claimed momentum in the final minutes of the second when forward Haley Skarupa scored from the slot off a rebound to give her team a 2-1 lead.

Rooney stopped the initial shot from Kali Flanagan, but Skarupa dragged the puck across the crease before tucking it past the outstretched goaltender.

WATCH | Coyne Schofield scores breakaway winner for Minnesota:

Team Adidas (Minnesota) defeats Team Women’s Sports Foundation (New Hampshire) 4-2 as Kendall Coyne Schofield scores the winner during the 3rd period. 0:45

The Minnesota lead was short-lived, however, as Roque connected on a one-timer at the side of the crease to put the puck past Burt early in the third period. Minnesota continued to swarm with pressure, with another scoring opportunity hitting the crossbar on the next rush.

Coyne Schofield gave her team the advantage with under 10 minutes to play when her speed launched her on a breakaway that saw her deke out Burt for a highlight-reel goal.

Minnesota’s Sydney Brodt then put the game out of reach with just over three minutes to play with her second goal of the showcase.

The St. Louis showcase was originally scheduled to be held last month, but the event was pushed back after one of the two teams was exposed to COVID-19. It was the third U.S. stop on the Dream Gap Tour this year, following events in New York and Chicago.

Part of the partnership between the Blues and the PWHPA includes the creation of the St. Louis Blues Girls’ Hockey Development League, which provides low-cost opportunities for girls of all ages to play the sport.

The Dream Gap Tour next travels to Calgary for an upcoming Canadian showcase presented by the Flames that is scheduled to run from May 24 to May 30. The Calgary showcase will feature Team Bauer (Montreal), Team Sonnet (Toronto) and Team Scotiabank (Calgary) in a round robin format.

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