PWHPA Showcase Makes Big Impression

They brought with them not only their hockey skills but also their passion for the sport. And in the intimate setting of the Coliseum in Voorhees, N.J that passion resonated through every nook and cranny.

Some of the finest hockey players in the world, skating under the banner of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association are visiting the Philadelphia area this weekend. A total of 68 women, divided into four teams, showed off their skills in front of a full house, Saturday night as they continued their quest to build a sustainable model for women’s professional hockey in North America. The showcase will conclude with two games on Sunday.

Some of the names were familiar; Olympians and U.S. National Team standouts like Kendall Coyne Schofield, Hilary Knight, and twin sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux- Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando.

Other names weren’t quite as recognizable but every player on hand has left an imprint on the sport, and on the fans in the building watching them, many of them young girls who watched their idols while dreaming of emulating them one day. And the players on the ice understood they were being watched and who was watching them.

Kelsey Koelzer played high-school hockey on the boys’ team at Hatboro-Horsham High before going on to a stellar career at Princeton before playing for a U.S. Select team and later in the National Women’s Hockey League while also holding down a full-time job. She’s now the head women’s hockey coach at Arcadia University, which will take the ice at the NCAA Division III level in 2021-22. Koelzer got a warm reception when she took the ice Saturday night.

“This is the first time I’ve gotten to play really (professionally) in my home area,” she said. “I think most of the people that were responding were probably my family, obviously. But it definitely means a lot.”

Lamoureux- Davidson has made appearances in the Philadelphia area in the past, along with her sister, on behalf of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, introducing young girls to the sport who otherwise may not have had the chance to experience the game of hockey first hand.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” she said. “Literally, every time I see some of these players they’re three inches taller and now they’re taller than me. To see them grow up in the program is special for me and my sister. The Snider Hockey Foundation does amazing things for the kids in Philadelphia.

“They’re playing hockey, but it’s so much more than playing a sport. It gives them an opportunity to be active after school; homework is a big part of the program. So just to be a part of the program, to be able to give back to it over the years, is special for us.”

Hatboro-Horsham coach Gianni Lafratta was taking in the action Saturday night. His Hatters will start play in the Flyers Cup tournament on Monday, but on this occasion, he was enjoying an evening with his 7-year old daughter and enjoying watching world-class hockey.

“It’s great,” he said. “The speed, the passing, it’s all there. I never thought you had to see it to believe it as a kid, but my daughter definitely got sucked in this week and she’s definitely grown very fond of Kendall Coyne this weekend.”

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