Back in the month of January, the PWHPA sent an All-Star team comprised of players from the New Hampshire and Minnesota Regional Training Hubs to Tampa Bay for a unique training opportunity. During that trip, the group held multiple on-ice practice sessions, played six exhibition games against USPHL competition, and took part in off-ice training.
On Monday, February 8th, the PWHPA returned to Hub City Tampa for their second training opportunity of the winter. They took to the ice yesterday for their first practice, and today will play the first of five exhibition games against USPHL competition in preparation for the 2021 Dream Gap Tour.
Today, at AdventHelath Center Ice, the PWHPA All-Stars will meet the Northern Cyclones Premier team.
Scouting The Cyclones
The Northern Cyclones’ Premier team is led by Head Coach and General Manager Bill Weiand, one of the top recruiters in junior hockey. Weiand’s team routinely advances players from the USPHL to the NCAA, and 2020-21 is no different. Captains Ben Peterson (Saint Anselm College) and Oscar Richardson (Lebanon Valley College) will both advance to the NCAA next season.
The Cyclones are 20-8-1 in 29 games this season, good for 41 points and third place in the USPHL’s New England Division. The Cyclones also have four games in hand on the first place Islanders Hockey Club, and nine games in hand on the second place Junior Bruins.
Rookie Jackson Tillinghast has been the top weapon on offense for Northern so far this season. He leads the team in points with 33 (15 g, 18 a) in just 29 games. Andrew Kozol, another rookie, is second in scoring on the team with 27 points (10 g, 17 a), while Peterson is third with 25 points (15 g, 10 a) and has a team-leading 15 goals.
On defense, Richardson has handled a big role for Coach Weiand’s group this season. He’s been aided by rookie Andrew Nieusma, who has 21 points (7 g, 14 a) and had over 130 takeaways during the month of January alone. Las Vegas native Hunter Meyer, meanwhile, has contributed 14 points (3 g, 11 a) from the blueline this season.
In goal, Trevor Wong is 11-6-0 on the season with a .922 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA. He and Kyle Myer, who is in his first season with the Cyclones, have formed a formidable one-two punch. Myer is 9-2-1 on the season with a .910 save percentage and 2.16 GAA. The second-year goalie played the 2019-20 season with the Boston Junior Bruins.
PWHPA More Ready Than Before
When the PWHPA All-Stars arrived in January, they admittedly didn’t know what to expect in their six game exhibition slate. That isn’t the case this time around. While there are new faces on the roster, the core group from the first trip returns. The experience of last month’s trip has certainly given the team a comfort level that they didn’t have until late in the trip a few weeks back.
It was visible in practice on Tuesday, when the PWHPA All-Stars took to the ice in Lakeland, Florida. Forward Delaney Belinskas, who is one of the returners from January, spoke about that after practice.
“Being my first time playing pro with the women here, it’s been great,” Belinskas said. “Everyone here is really good, so it’s helping me and pushing me to be better. We’re way more comfortable. First day here practicing and we’re all laughing on the bench and talking and having a good time. I already think we’re a step ahead, actually more than a step ahead, of where we were last time.”
Belinskas is far from the only returner at forward. Sophia Shaver, Kelly Pannek, Hannah Brandt, Haley Skarupa, Amanda Kessel, Hayley Scamurra, Abby Roque, Sydney Brodt and Gigi Marvin join Belinskas as returners up front. Defensively, Megan Keller, Kali Flanagan, Jincy Dunne and Savannah Harmon are back in the mix. Katie Burt, meanwhile, is the only goaltender who is returning to Hub City Tampa.
Brianna Decker, who is now with the New Hampshire Regional Training Hub, and Samantha Donovan join the forward ranks, while Jacquie Greco and Demi Crossman will suit up on defense. Maddie Rooney, Alex Cavallini and Kimberly Sass are the new goalies in Tampa. Only two of the four goaltenders will dress on Wednesday, as the PWHPA prepares for back-to-back games.
Sophia Shaver – Kelly Pannek – Hannah Brandt
Haley Skarupa – Brianna Decker – Amanda Kessel
Hayley Scamurra – Abby Roque – Sydney Brodt
Samantha Donovan – Gigi Marvin – Delaney Belinskas
Megan Keller – Kali Flanagan
Savannah Harmon – Jincy Dunne
Demi Crossman – Jacquie Greco
Where To Watch:
You can tune in to the game live at 2:00 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!