The final preparations for game action took place on Tuesday at AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Florida. The PWHPA ‘All-Star’ team practiced on Wednesday morning at AdventHealth Center Ice, then took to the weight room in the afternoon back at Saddlebrook Resort. Tomorrow, they’ll take the ice for game action against the Tampa Bay Juniors of the USPHL’s Premier League.
Day 2 was a little more systems oriented, with the intensity level also brought up. Head Coach Bill Flanagan put the group through numerous battle drills before getting to work on offensive zone setups. Both the powerplay and penalty killing units went to work for the first time, and the group wrapped up the session with some intense three-on-three drills in the neutral zone.
It was a fast practice that showed off the loads of skill this roster possesses. That speed and skill game is what D Olivia Zafuto thinks fans should expect on Thursday.
“Pretty fast style I think,” Zafuto told ‘The Women’s Hockey Tribune’ after practice when asked what kind of style the team will play on Thursday. “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.”
Zafuto, who is part of the PWHPA’s Minnesota Regional Training Hub, is one of seven defenders currently training in Florida. The Colgate product, who is from the Buffalo area, hasn’t been able to get consistent practice time during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s both grateful and taking advantage of this opportunity.
“It’s been really fun. It’s nice to practice again with a team,” Zafuto admitted. “I’ve been skating with the boys back home in different groups, alone at times, so it’s nice to get down here and have some fun with the girls.”
After a chance to recover at the resort, PWHPA players in the Hub City went through an off-ice workout at 4:00 pm. They’ll have multiple off-ice workouts during their stay, in addition to the on-ice practice times and game slots they’ll take part in.
The team’s first three games will be a sprint, as they play three games in three days. The stretch starts tomorrow at 2:00 pm against Tampa Bay. Our Alex Thomas will have the call, LIVE and FREE on HockeyTV. They’ll also play on Friday morning at 10:40 am against the South Shore Kings, and Saturday night at 7:45 pm against the Philadelphia Hockey Club. Both games will also be on Hockey TV.