In the midst of trying times, all-stars from the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) will be hitting the ice in January, 2021 to take part in the USPHL’s “Hub City Tampa”. Hub City Tampa was developed by the USPHL—based in the northeastern part of the United States—as a means to ensure player safety during the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing its Tier-2 (NCDC) and Tier-3 (Premier, Elite) junior seasons. In all, eleven of the players representing the PWHPA in Tampa Bay were members of team USA in 2018, which won the Olympic Gold Medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The PWHPA All-Star team, along with the USPHL teams, will stay in Tampa Bay for a two-week stint from January 4th to January 18th, 2021. During the course of their stay, the team will face off in exhibition games against USPHL teams from the Tier-2 NCDC league. They will also take part in on-ice practice sessions and off-ice training.
The opportunity comes at a time when playing high-level competition has become difficult due to COVID-19. With travel and hockey restrictions in place throughout the United States, the ability to play games and practice on a consistent basis has been nearly impossible. This opportunity gives the players a chance to experience a normal, competitive hockey atmosphere while in a safe environment. All players will adhere to strict COVID protocols including, but not limited to, guidelines regarding travel, facility management and any hockey/sport-related policies will remain in effect. The USPHL will have trained medical staff on site throughout the duration of the Hub City Event.
The team will be coached and managed by Bill Flanagan, who is the head coach and GM of the New Hampshire Regional Training Hub in the PWHPA. Flanagan, who also coaches in the USPHL with the Northern Cyclones, organized this two-week trip and has backed it financially as well.
“This is an outstanding opportunity to train and play as a team against some high-level competition. The facilities that these women will have access to are top notch. They will truly be able to focus on high-level hockey during this trip, and will be treated and taken care of like the professionals they are. I’m really looking forward to getting down there with this group of talented women,” said Bill Flanagan.
Players will isolate at Saddlebrook Resort, a multi-dimensional Tampa Resort and Conference Center, and play games and practice at the AdventHealth Center Ice. AdventHealth Center Ice is a state-of the-art 4-sheet, full-service ice hockey facility.
“I’m very excited to head to Tampa with the PWHPA and compete against the USPHL teams. The location was home to our 2018 Olympic Gold Medal winning team and it’ll be a blast being back there again. I appreciate all the work Bill Flanagan and the USPHL have done to get this incredible trip prepared and I can’t wait for the games to begin,” said Gigi Marvin, 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist for team USA and PWHPA New Hampshire forward.
Brianna Decker, representative of the PWHPA Calgary region – currently skating in Minnesota – and 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist for team USA, said, “We are extremely thankful to be factored into the USPHL’s Hub City. We are excited to compete together and play games against some great talent.”
The roster heading to Tampa Bay will contain players from both the New Hampshire and Minnesota Regional Training Hubs in the PWHPA. At forward, Chelsey Goldberg (NH), Delaney Belinskas (NH), Nicole Schammel (MN), Hayley Scamurra (NH), Sydney Brodt (MN), Sophia Shaver (MN), Kelley Pannek (MN), Hannah Brandt (MN), Haley Skarupa (NH), Gigi Marvin (NH), Dani Cameranesi (MN), Brianna Decker (CAL), Amanda Kessel (NH), and Abby Roque (MN) will head south.
Defensively, the team will consist of Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga (NH), Codie Cross (NH), Jincy Dunne (NH), Lee Stecklein (MN), Savannah Harmon (MN), Megan Keller (NH) and Kali Flanagan (NH).
Katie Burt, Brittany Ott and Nicole Hensley will be the three goaltenders on the roster. Burt and Ott are rostered in New Hampshire, while Hensley is on the Minnesota roster.
The full game schedule will be released by the USPHL in the coming days. Stay tuned to ‘The Women’s Hockey Tribune’ for more details and where to watch these exhibition games.
You can learn more about the USPHL’s ‘Hub City Tampa’ initiative here.
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