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Team adidas preview: PWHPA 2022-23

Who’s ready for a line of Kendall Coyne Schofield, Amanda Kessel, and Sarah Nurse?

Heather Pollock/PWHPA

Forwards: Kendall Coyne Schofield; Samantha Donovan; Laura Dostaler; Kelly Gribbons; Jess Jones; Amanda Kessel; Sarah Nurse; Kristin O’Neill; Sarah Potomak; Jill Saulnier; Laura Stacey; Kayla Vespa; Kaitlin Willoughby

Defence: Emily Curlett; Jessica Digrolamo; Jincy Dunne; Megan Eady; Renata Fast; Halli Krzyzaniak; Jocelyne Larocque; Meaghan Mikkelson

Goaltenders: Aerin Frankel; Maddie Rooney; Sydney Scobee; Shea Tiley

Staff: Matt Leitner (GM/Head Coach)

Strength

Team adidas’s forward core is one of the oldest but also one of the toughest. Power forwards like Nurse and Kessel use size and strength to wear down opponents and win corner battles. Kessel is also a great finisher. She always seems to find open ice to nail one-timers into the net.

The Canadian American duo of Nurse and Kessel will be an exhausting match for opponents. Additionally, Coyne Schofield and Potomak bring quick hands and foot speed rounding out a group that will be effective puck chasers. Grit and speed will aid in both fore and back checking making a team that will play effective dump and chase hockey.

Weakness

Defensive gaps might hold adidas back early in this season. Their defence and goaltending is made up of both some of the youngest and oldest PWHPA players. The young players have incredibly high ceilings, but to learn and attain that potential, they will need to make mistakes. Aerin Frankel will be an incredible goaltender but may need time to hit her stride. The same applies for talented defenders like Curlett and Digirolamo. They will need playing time to gain experience but that will mean rookie mistakes are made early in the season.

Thankfully, they will be mentored by some of the most experienced players in women’s hockey. Mikkelson is a talented veteran with lots of wisdom to pass down. She will be able to lead this defensive core but can’t play the high volume of minutes the youngsters can. The veteran is the pinnacle of resiliency overcoming mountains to stay at her elite level. Her leadership will help this team thrive as it irons out creases in the first few games.

Players to watch:

Aerin Frankel

Frankel is a highly touted prospect. She backstopped five successful years at Northeastern, winning the Patty Kazmaier award in her fourth year. Across five seasons, the goaltender had a fantastic .949 save percentage and 1.31 GAA. She led the team to an appearance in the NCAA finals in 2021.

2022-23 will be the young goaltender’s first test at the professional level. She had one period of playing time at the 2022 world championships. She was given the third period of the USA’s game against Hungary once they were already winning 10-0. She faced just two shots, allowing one. The 23-year-old will have the opportunity this year to play serious ice time against the world’s best hockey players. Expect her to take huge steps with each game of experienced gained. She is sharp and moves across the crease with dazzling speed. She is going to be a star for the USA and this season will be foundational in that future.

Sarah Nurse

Sarah Nurse is someone who has hit her stride. The promise and progress were clear for a long time and in the last two years, Nurse has broken out as one of the best forwards in the game. She was explosive at the 2022 Olympics where she led the tournament in scoring with 18 points in seven games. Thirteen of those points were assists, showing her prowess for playmaking, but more and more, she is using her skill for goalscoring.

Sarah Nurse has puck protection skills like Michelle Karvinen and the speed to match. With elite goalscoring being added as a major part of her game, she is now one of the best forwards in the world.

Coach

Leitner is back for a third season with the PWHPA. He coached Minnesota in 2020-21 when they dominated the American leg of the PWHPA season. He also coached Minnesota last season finishing third. Leitner will be familiar with returning adidas players from Minnesota like Scobee, Tiley, and Coyne Schofield.