The PWHPA, a day after practicing at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa Bay, will conclude their 2021 Hub City Tampa stint with an exhibition tilt against the Utica Junior Comets. This is the second and final meeting between the Comets and the PWHPA in Hub City Tampa. The sides met on January 14th, with Utica taking a 7-2 decision.
Puck drop is now set for 12:00 pm at AdventHealth Center Ice. The game will be played on Rink B.
Scouting The Comets
The Comets outshot the PWHPA 50-37 in their last meeting, winning the game 7-2. Cameron Trejchel opened the scoring just 26 seconds in on the first shot, but Haley Skarupa fought back and got the game even at 5:44. The Comets would regain the lead and eventually go up 4-1 just 3:02 into the second. Kelly Pannek got the PWHPA back within a pair, but the Comets scored the game’s last three goals and came away on top.
The Comets, like the PWHPA, are playing their final game inside Hub City Tampa. Following a 5-1 loss in their NCDC finale on Tuesday to Twin City, the Comets are 12-16-3 on the season. Their 27 points are good for 5th in the newly-formed South Division.
John Gutt leads the Comets offensively this season with 31 points (12 g, 19 a) in 28 games. Nick Ahern, acquired from the Boston Advantage early in the season, is second with 28 points (16 g, 12 a) in just 21 games with the Comets. Ben Kuzma (24 points, 12 g, 12 a), Walter Baumann (24 points, 11 g, 13 a) and Luke French (11 points, 1 g, 10 a) round out the top five scorers for the Comets. French, a rookie in the NCDC, leads all defensemen in scoring for Utica.
The Comets strength is certainly in net. Andy Vlaha and Cameron Whitehead lead the way for coach Paul Kelly’s group. Vlaha is 2-4-0 in seven appearances with a 3.30 GAA, but he does have a .917 save percentage. Whitehead, another rookie, is 10-10-2 with a 3.46 GAA and a .897 save percentage. Whitehead also has one shutout this season.
What They Are Saying
“Win. We gotta win. I think we’re ready to win, I think we’ve been playing well. I think tomorrow, we’ll have a lot of energy. It’s our last game playing together, it’s a little sad. 24 days we spent in Tampa together, most of us, and we’d like to end it on a winning note. We’re looking forward to it.” – Coach Bill Flanagan
“It’s been fun, you know, I played wing back in high school but I haven’t played since. So it was a four year hiatus away. We’ll see what I’m doing this season soon, center or wing, I guess after this. I think it may be back to center for me though.” – Forward Abby Roque
There will be ample changes for the PWHPA today in Tampa. Forwards Samantha Donovan and Delaney Belinskas will both return to the lineup, while defender Demi Crossman not only returns to the lineup, but shifts to forward. Gigi Marvin will remain on defense, while Jacquie Greco is inserted into the lineup.
Jincy Dunne will not dress for today’s game. She has returned home for a school commitment.
Sophia Shaver – Kelly Pannek – Abby Roque
Haley Skarupa – Brianna Decker – Amanda Kessel
Hayley Scamurra – Hannah Brandt – Sydney Brodt
Samantha Donovan – Demi Crossman – Delaney Belinskas
Megan Keller – Kali Flanagan
Savannah Harmon – Gigi Marvin
Maddie Rooney (1st half)
Alex Cavallini (2nd half)
*Due to time constraints and travel plans, today’s game will be played by EWSHL rules. The game will feature a five-minute warmup and then two 25-minute halves. Ice will be cut at halftime.*
Where To Watch
You can tune in to the game live at 12:00 pm eastern on HockeyTV. A subscription will be required to view today’s game. The USPHL will have live stats which can be found on their website. Live scoring will be available for all five games during the Hub City Tampa trip. Veteran play-by-play voice Alex Thomas will have the call of all five PWHPA games in Florida.
Stay tuned to ‘The Women’s Hockey Tribune’ and the PWHPA on Twitter for updates throughout the game and postgame!