The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) is heading back on the ice in sunny Florida. The PWHPA All-Stars will use this as a training opportunity ahead of the recently announced Secret Dream Gap Tour showcase at Madison Square Garden; they will take part in five games against United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) competition. This will be part of 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. The PWHPA played six games inside of Hub City Tampa in January, sending an All-Star team to play against Premier and NCDC competition.
The PWHPA All-Star team will arrive in Tampa Bay on Monday, February 8th, and will depart on Thursday, February 18th, 2021. Players and staff will again stay at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Florida and will reside in a pod of suites—away from all other teams— during the stay. All players and staff will follow strict COVID-19 protocols, which includes: the presentation of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival, an additional test upon arrival, multiple tests while on-site and a mandatory negative test before departing. Players and staff will also undergo daily wellness checks, while masks are mandatory at all times unless players are eating, in their rooms or on the ice. Following the tournament, PWHPA players selected to play in New York will enter a 7-day quarantine in preparation for the Secret Dream Gap Tour showcase; selected players will also be tested prior to travel to New York, upon arrival and between games.
The USPHL will have trained medical staff on-site throughout the duration of “Hub City Tampa”. The PWHPA All-Star team will also have a dedicated Athletic Trainer and Equipment Manager at their disposal during the duration of their stay.
During the course of their stay, the team will face off in five exhibition games against USPHL teams. Four of those games will be against Tier-2 NCDC opponents, while one game will be against the Tier-3 Premier League. In addition to game action, the PWHPA All-Star team will again take part in on-ice practice sessions and off-ice training.
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 of the NCDC, also served in this role for the PWHPA’s first trip to Tampa Bay in January.
“This is another outstanding opportunity to train and play as a team against some high-level competition. The teams we will be playing are outstanding teams that have numerous Division 1 NCAA commits and players on the NHL Central Scouting ‘Watch List’ for the upcoming draft. When you add that competition to the top notch facilities that these women will again have access to, I’m extremely excited. Once again, these women will truly be able to focus on high-level hockey, and will be treated and taken care of like the professionals they are. This is a great opportunity to continue training in advance of the Dream Gap Tour,” Flanagan said.
The roster heading to Tampa Bay will contain players from the New Hampshire, Minnesota and Calgary Regional Training Hubs in the PWHPA. At forward, Abby Roque (MN), Amanda Kessel (NH), Brianna Decker (CGY), Delaney Belinskas (NH), Gigi Marvin (NH), Haley Skarupa (NH), Hannah Brandt (MN), Kelly Pannek (MN), Sophia Shaver (MN), Sydney Brodt (MN), Hayley Scamurra (NH), Samantha Donovan (MN) and Demi Crossman (MN) will head south.
Defensively, the team will consist of Jincy Dunne (NH), Savannah Harmon (MN), Megan Keller (NH), Jacquie Greco (NH) and Kali Flanagan (NH).
Katie Burt, Kimberly Sass, Alex Cavallini and Maddie Rooney will be the four goaltenders that the team carries to Tampa Bay. Burt, Sass and Cavallini are all based out of the New Hampshire Region, while Rooney is based out of Minnesota.
In all, nine Gold Medalists from Team USA’s 2018 Olympic Championship team will represent the PWHPA in Tampa Bay.
The full game schedule has been released and can be viewed here. The game action begins on Wednesday, February 10th, when the PWHPA All-Stars take on the Islanders Hockey Club of the NCDC at 2:00 pm from AdventHealth Center Ice. All games will be live scored on the USPHL’s official website, and will be streamed live on HockeyTV with veteran play-by-play voice Alex Thomas on the call. PWHPA’s February 13th game against Hitmen Premier will be available for free.
Stay tuned to ‘The Women’s Hockey Tribune’ for more details!