In another notable event landed by AdventHealth Center Ice, the Boston Pride will defend their Premier Hockey Federation Isobel Cup trophy in Wesley Chapel in March. The PHF playoffs will be free to attend and the final will be televised live on ESPN2. (Photo: Michelle Jay/NWHL)

You probably have already heard that last July, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated Montreal in Tampa, earning the Bolts a second straight Lord Arthur Frederick Stanley Cup.

But, did you know that Lord Stanley had a daughter named Isobel, and a trophy bearing her name is handed out to the best professional women’s hockey team?

It’s true, and next month in Wesley Chapel, the winner of the 2022 Isobel Cup will be decided at AdventHealth Center Ice.

The six teams in the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) will square off March 25-28, with preliminary round games tipping things off on Friday, the semifinals on Sunday and the final to be contested live on Monday at 9 p.m., on ESPN2.

The PHF championship game will mark ESPN’s first linear broadcast of professional women’s hockey. And, although NBCSports.com reports that no current members of the powerhouse U.S. and Canadian women’s national teams have played in the PHF since 2019, a recent influx of new capital — a reported $25 million — will more than double each PHF team’s salary cap (from $300,000 to $750,000) and provide health care and maternity leave benefits for all PHF players.

“We’re pumped about it. This is a pretty big deal,” said AdventHealth Center Ice CEO Gordie Zimmermann. “The women are trying to develop and move into the pro ranks and the gain the respectability that they have always been looking for. So I think this is a great platform. The hockey development here is like no other in the nation and they recognize it as great place to present their format. Girls hockey is growing in Florida as well, so this is a great thing for all the developmental programs in the area to come and watch.”

Zimmermann says all the girls hockey programs will be invited to watch the playoffs. The general public also is invited to the event. AdventHealth Center Ice seats roughly 1,000 spectators.

It’s surreal and somewhat ironic that both the Stanley and Isobel cups, awarded to best teams playing the national sport of Canada, would be decided in….Florida. But, the opening of Center Ice in 2017 opened up a lot of previously unimaginable possibilities.

The PHF playoffs is another coup for Zimmermann. Other than the many men’s hockey events Center Ice has hosted, some of its most noteworthy events have involved women’s hockey. It was the training site for the 2018 Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s Hockey team and hosted Team USA, Canada, Finland and Sweden for the 2017 Four Nations Cup. In 2019, a virtual women’s hockey museum opened inside Center Ice.

Each spring, the rink complex also plays host to USA Hockey’s Women’s Nationals.

“We have been a catalyst for the growing interest in hockey in Florida since our opening, and in women’s hockey in particular,” Zimmermann says. 

Seven of the 25 players in Center Ice’s elite Global Prospects Academy are girls, and the facility also is home to the Crunch travel program, which has 14-under and 16-under teams.

The PHF was established in 2015 as the National Women’s Hockey League before re-branding itself. The league is made up of the defending champion Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan (New Jersey) Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps and the Toronto Six. 

The pairings aren’t set yet because the regular season is still ongoing, although Connecticut and Toronto are currently in first and second place, respectively.

For more information, visit PremierHockeyFederation.com or AHCenterIce.com.

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