On Monday, 24 PWHPA players travelled to Tampa Bay to begin a two week journey that will give them some semblance of normal in a world that has been anything but since last March. The PWHPA ‘All-Star’ team, which consists of players from both the Minnesota and New Hampshire Regional Training Hubs, is together for the first time inside Saddlebrook Resort.
Players, who were required to present a negative test upon arrival, underwent post-travel COVID-19 testing on Monday and settled in before getting to work earlier today. Under the watchful eye of Head Coach and General Manager Bill Flanagan, the group took the ice together at AdventHealth Center Ice for the first time shortly after 1:00 pm.
“It was great to get this group together on the ice, a lot of fun honestly,” Flanagan said on Tuesday. “We have a really good group down here that is getting an outstanding opportunity to train and compete like the professionals they are. These games are going to be really competitive, and I think they will be a great test for this group.”
The PWHPA roster in Tampa underwent small changes prior to departure, with the official roster as follows:
Forwards: Abby Roque, Amanda Kessel, Brianna Decker, Dani Cameranesi, Gigi Marvin, Haley Skarupa, Hannah Brandt, Kelly Pannek, Sophia Shaver, Sydney Brodt, Hayley Scamurra, Nicole Schammel, Delaney Belinskas and Chelsey Goldberg
Defenders: Jincy Dunne, Lillian Braga, Codie Cross, Lee Stecklein, Kali Flanagan, Olivia Zafuto and Savannah Harmon
Goalies: Nicole Hensley, Brittany Ott and Katie Burt
As part of today’s on-ice session, which worked on conditioning and system implementation, the PWHPA ‘All-Star’ team broke down into lines and pairings. Here is how they lined up in the first practice of the training trip.
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
“It’s a blast,” veteran Amanda Kessel said after practice when asked what it was like getting back on the ice. “A lot of us are skating alone, we’re at home just training by ourselves and getting ready to play in any game we can. To get back on the ice with teammates, that’s really the best part of it all.”
Although it wasn’t a game, Kessel and her teammates did spend the last 15 minutes of the practice session scrimmaging, with the group split into ‘Team Red’ and ‘Team Blue’. It was there where the team’s expect style of play really shined.
“We’re going to be a five-player unit,” Flanagan said when asked what kind of style fans can expect from the group. Known for his maximum effort style of play at the NCDC level with the Northern Cyclones, a high-energy, attacking style is expected when Flanagan is behind the bench. It’s the same kind of game his New Hampshire Regional Training Hub group has played all fall long in exhibition contests.
The group will return to the ice on Wednesday morning at 10:55 am for their second practice of the trip. In addition, they’ll have off-ice workouts on Wednesday afternoon back at the Saddlebrook Resort.
The game action begins with a three game in three day set. It starts on Thursday at 2:00 pm when they take on the USPHL Premier’s Tampa Bay Juniors. The game is FREE for all to watch on HockeyTV.