It’s finally here! The PWHPA is set to take the ice this afternoon at 2:00 pm at AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Florida. They’ll take on the Tampa Bay Juniors of the USPHL’s Premier League. It’s the first of six games for the team on their training trip, and their lone game against a Premier team. It also opens a stretch of three games in three days, which continues on Friday morning against the South Shore Kings.
Once again, the Tampa Bay Juniors are among the elite teams in the USPHL’s Premier League. Currently, Tampa sits second place in the Florida Division with 30 points. That’s two behind the Florida Eels, who sit at 16-7-0 through 23 games. The good news for Tampa? They are 15-6-0 through 21 games, holding two in hand on the Eels.
Stanley Lucas paces the Tampa Bay offense with 26 points (9 g, 17 a), while Aaron Frenkel is second with 24 points (11 g, 13 a). Jack Anderson (18 points, 6 g, 12 a) and Connor Reed (17 points, 7 g, 10 a) also help form Tampa’s potent offensive attack. In goal, Cade Kujawski has been the workhorse this season. The second-year goalie is 9-4-0 in 14 total appearances with a GAA of 2.80 and a save percentage of .894. He’s also got one shutout on the campaign.
Tampa’s staff includes a familiar name to women’s hockey fans. Brett Strot, the owner of the team, was the Associate Head Coach of the 2018 US Olympic team that took home Gold in South Korea. He’s worked with the women’s program since 2014, working with numerous development camps.
The PWHPA ‘All-Stars’ completed their second day of practice on Tuesday, and are ready for the challenge that awaits. The team worked on special teams Tuesday, and head coach Bill Flanagan turned the heat up with some battle drills.
“I’m really excited for this game,” Flanagan said. “It’s a great opportunity for these women, great competition. This is a really strong group, a skilled group, and I look forward to seeing them in game action and coaching them. We’re going to play hard as a team, and I expect each of these girls to go out and do their job in a professional manner. This is going to be a lot of fun.”
D Olivia Zafuto, a member of the Minnesota Regional Training Hub, expects this team to use the speed and skill they have displayed in practice over the last two days.
“Pretty fast style I think,” Zafuto told ‘The Women’s Hockey Tribune’ after practice on Tuesday. “Obviously, playing against guys who are fast too, we’ll need a lot of hockey IQ. Smart plays. Just think a lot of the girls out here are really smart, so you’ll see girls jumping into space, finding areas.”
Stay tuned to social media (@WIH_Tribune on Twitter) for Tampa Bay’s lines closer to puck drop. Here is how the PWHPA will look in their opening game inside of ‘Hub City Tampa’
Dani Cameranesi – Kelly Pannek – Amanda Kessel
Sophia Shaver – Hannah Brandt – Haley Skarupa
Nicole Schammel – Abby Roque – Sydney Brodt
Hayley Scamurra – Gigi Marvin – Delaney Belinskas
Lee Stecklein – Kali Flanagan
Savannah Harmon – Jincy Dunne
Codie Cross – Lillian Braga
Where To Watch:
Fans can watch today’s game live and for free on Hockey TV. Fans will only need to create a free account to get access to the game. Veteran play-by-play voice Alex Thomas, who has called numerous PWHPA and NCAA games over his career, will have the call of the contest from AdventHealth Center Ice in Florida.
You can follow ‘The Women’s Hockey Tribune’ on Twitter for highlights and postgame interviews as well! Live scoring is available on the USPHL’s official website.