Yesterday the NWHL made some big waves in the women’s hockey world by announcing that a team comprising of some of the league’s brightest stars would play the United States Women’s National Team twice next month.
The games will be a final trial for the national team before it travels to Korea for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. The games will also provide some of the NWHL’s brightest stars with a unique chance to compete against arguably the greatest hockey team in the world.
NWHL Deputy Commissioner Hayley Moore told The Ice Garden that she and the league’s four coaches will look to send 20 skaters and two goaltenders for the games. The NWHL’s final roster is expected sometime after the beginning of the New Year or possibly sooner. The US will also have made its final cuts to its Olympic roster on January 1st. Team NWHL will face the very best of Team USA.
Moore described the process of putting the two-game series together with USA Hockey as a “consistent collaboration.” There are numerous ties between the NWHL and the USWNT, including the 11 players currently in residency who played in the NWHL last season. Both organizations share a common goal: to accelerate the growth of women’s hockey in the United States.
“It all started in collaborating with USA Hockey, especially over this past offseason,” Moore told The Ice Garden. “We talked about the ways that we could work together in their quest for gold leading up to the Olympics.”
Moore will serve as general manager of Team NWHL. As the former general manager of the Pride and the current Director of Player Development, she’s the perfect woman for the job. Moore knows many of the national team’s stars personally and knows how good they are. She also has a deep understanding of the NWHL’s on-ice talent this season.
“It’s not an easy task, but that just speaks to the depth of talent in the women’s game and in our league,” Moore explained. “I’m going to be working very closely with the coaching staff of all of the teams. I’m going to lean on them throughout this selection process. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be difficult. There are a lot of players who are capable of giving the U.S. a great game.”
One of the biggest concerns regarding the scheduling of the two exhibition matches is the fact that the Beauts and Whale are playing in Pittsburgh on January 14th. However, Moore doesn’t think that Connecticut or Buffalo will be left shorthanded because of the depth of the rosters this season.
“If you look at the Connecticut Whale and the Buffalo Beauts, there are some very strong players that everyone would expect to be in the mix for these games,” Moore explained. “I expect to have players [on Team NWHL] from both of those rosters. It will be a great opportunity for other players on the Whale and the Beauts to be able to be a part of something special in Pittsburgh that weekend. It’s going to be a huge weekend for the league, both in Florida and in Pittsburgh.”
Moore worked closely with NWHLPA director Anya Battaglino throughout the process of organizing the games. The current plan is for Team NWHL to practice together before they face the national team on January 13th, although the details are still being worked out. Moore was able to reveal that the league will be paying for the players’ flights to Florida. She also shared that NWHL players will be compensated for the games against the USWNT.
Details on how and if the game will be streamed are still being discussed with USA Hockey. Tickets will cost fans $10, and 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the USA Hockey Foundation’s Friends of Women’s Hockey Fund.