The PWHPA All-Stars had ample opportunities on Saturday afternoon in Lakeland, Florida, but they couldn’t cash in against Jersey Hitmen goaltenders Gennaro DeMaio and Lucas Hrabkovsky. Cade Mozell collected a rebound in front of PWHPA goalie Alex Cavallini late in the second period, and stuffed it home to break a 1-1 tie. That was enough, as the Hitmen came away with a 4-1 victory.
The game was relatively even. In fact, one could argue that the PWHPA actually outplayed and outchanced the Hitmen at Lakeland Ice Arena. Some times, hockey can be a cruel sport. This was one of those occasions.
The Hitmen opened the scoring 16:40 into the game when Matt Barbieri fed Jacob Liebross at the near point. Liebross floated a shot towards Cavallini that looked like it was going to be a routine save. PWHPA forward Hannah Brandt was in the area, however, and tried to block the shot. Unforntautely, the shot hit Brandt’s stick and beat Cavallini, who wasn’t ready for a tip. A bad break gave Jersey the lead, and had the PWHPA chasing the game.
There was no panic in the All-Stars, however. The second line of Brianna Decker centering Haley Skarupa and Amanda Kessel created some chances late in the first period, while Kelly Pannek’s line with Sophia Shaver and Abby Roque tilted the ice early in the second period.
The pressure and composure paid off just under four minutes into the middle frame. Kelly Pannek collected the puck along the near wall in the offensive zone, then wired a centering pass into the slot area where defender Savannah Harmon was skating towards. Harmon collected the feed and wired a shot that DeMaio never saw. Harmon’s goal at 3:45 was her first in Hub City Tampa, and her first point.
While the PWHPA continued to generate chances, they never did beat DeMaio again. Ditto for Hrabkovsky, who entered the game 31:43 in. He slammed the door shut while the PWHPA poured on the pressure. It allowed the Hitmen to get their legs under them, and eventually take control back.
Johnny LaMacchia’s point shot was denied by Cavallini, but the rebound bounced around and eventually found Mozell, who stuffed in his second since joining the Hitmen last week. The goal, scored at 16:23 of the third period, was the eventual winner.
Jack Umphrey went bardown at 7:24 of the third period to extend the lead, while Nick Amaya turned out the lights when he hit the empty net from the neutral zone at 18:42.
What They Said
“We played really well. We had a lot of opportunities to score but we didn’t do it, didn’t finish. I thought we were just buzzing. I was really proud of the effort, but it was just one of those games where the puck just wouldn’t find the back of the net.” – Head Coach Bill Flanagan
“I think it was just a fun game, good team game overall. I think we made some adjustments after the first period from coach and I think we just showed what we are able to do and that was exactly how my goal happened. Just good line work all around and I just happened to be the lucky one.” – PWHPA D Savannah Harmon
The PWHPA will officially have an off-day on Sunday. Five members of the PWHPA (Kelly Pannek, Samantha Donovan, Kali Flanagan, Savannah Harmon, Maddie Rooney) will take part in an All Girls Learn to Play clinic hosted by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The PWHPA will return to game action on Monday morning at 11:00 am when they take on the Twin City Thunder of the USPHL’s NCDC.