The NWHL All-Star weekend kicks off today with the skills competition followed by the game on Sunday.
Its the perfect setting for The Ice Garden staff to make some predictions, so we did! Let us know in the comments who you think will win each event and the whole weekend.
There will be four one-on-one races with the player with the fastest time earning the point for her team.
Team Szabados: Michelle Picard, Amanda Pelkey, Lexi Bender, Kendall Coyne Schofield
Team Stecklein: Lisa Chesson, Jonna Curtis, Kate Schipper, Allie Thunstrom
Michelle Jay: Honestly, I can’t wait to see Kendall v Allie. As for who will win....uh....?
Casey Bryant: It’s incredible that half the entire field is from the Minnesota Whitecaps. Their speed has been remarkable to watch all season, so the friendly competition is going to be great. I’m going with Kendall Coyne Schofield. Shocker.
Mike Lopez: Allie Thunstrom. Sorry Kendall Coyne Schofield I know you’re fast but how can I not choose the player who trained for years to be an Olympic speed skater?
Mike Murphy: With a puck it’s Kendall Coyne Schofield, without one it’s Allie Thunstrom.
Hannah Bevis: I think the final has got to be between Kendall Coyne Schofield and Allie Thunstrom. Personally, I want Allie to compete in speed skates and Kendall to compete in hockey skates, because I think that race would be EPIC, but I probably give the edge to Kendall right now. She’s so explosive it’s not even fair.
Eleni Demestihas: I know we love Kendall, and I do think she’s one of the fastest women in the world, but I’m going with Thunstrom. It won’t be by a lot, though.
Erik Wollschlager: It’s possible that we’ll never know because they’ll skate so fast it will reverse the spin of the earth and we will go back in time. If that doesn’t happen? Thunstrom.
Leighann Strollo: What if we gave Kendall the speed skates? Allie would probably end up with a leg up that way, but I think I’m siding with Kendall Coyne Schofield on this one.
There will be two one-on-one races with the goaltender with the fastest time earning the point for her team.
Katie Burt vs. Amanda Levellie
Shannon Szabados vs. Nicole Hensley
Jay: Lev has the advantage since she’s done this before. I’m so excited to see what antics Szabados and Hensley get into though. I have Lev winning the point for Team Stecklein though.
Bryant: It’s Leveille’s crown to lose, but I wouldn’t count out Hensley. She’s exceptional at playing the puck, partly because of how sure of a skater she is.
Lopez: Katie Burt based solely on watching her sprint back to the goal crease after playing the puck in the open ice. Szabados/Hensley will be the race to watch just for the comedic factor.
Murphy: Szabados. She’s super competitive and is so good with her lateral movement in the crease. Will that translate into her getting a good time? I have absolutely no idea. But I wanted to sound smart. I don’t think I achieved that (I rarely do).
Bevis: I think Hensley and Szabados will be laughing at each other so much during their race that I don’t think either of them will take the ultimate crown. I’m taking the safe bet here with returning All-Star Leveille. (But I wouldn’t put it past her setting up a trip wire for whoever her opponent is in the final.)
Demestihas: I’m going with Burt. Lev holds the crown right now, but we’ve seen Katie play the puck and still make it back to her net without losing any edges, and she does it fairly regularly. Szabados and Hensley will be too busy trying to sabotage each other to put up good times, I think, but if they’re not, I could see Szabados winning this, too—she has great, long strides.
Wollschlager: Fleet are the feet of the one who wears the crown. I think it will be close between Hensley and Leveille, but Lev will win the point.
Strollo: Szabados/Hensley will win for fastest goalie while laughing, but the real joy will come from Burt upsetting Leveille to steal the crown. This is easily the toughest bracket.
The player who breaks all four targets in the fastest time.
Team Szabados: Hayley Scamurra, Haley Skarupa, Savannah Harmon
Team Stecklein: Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Emily Pfalzer
Jay: I don’t know why I keep doing these because I hate making choices. It’s a toss-up and I think it will depend on who gets into a groove fastest. Being forced to pick: Cameranesi.
Bryant: Hayley Scamurra leads the field in shooting percentage at 15.8% even while placing second in shots on goal this season. I’ll give the nod to her.
Lopez: It’s a toss up between Skarupa and Brandt for me. Both are skilled snipers who can thread a needle with their shot. But I’m gonna say Skarupa edges Brandt out in the end.
Murphy: Cameranesi or Pfalzer. Just going with my gut on this one.
Bevis: This one is TOUGH. My heart is telling me it’s Cameranesi, but I think my pick is Scamurra for this one. Don’t ask me why; all six of these skaters have a legit shot at this one.
Demestihas: I think Scamurra and Cameranesi will be close and it could go to either of them. But also, I wouldn’t count out Pfalzer. For a defender, she can really pick a corner.
Wollschlager: I’m going to go with the dark horse and pick Savannah Harmon. She’s been impressive with her shot placement, in my opinion, and I think she’s going to surprise people at the competition.
Strollo: Hannah Brandt is good, and also my number one pick for most things. Sadly this isn’t going to be one of them as I’m going with Cameranesi, but not without a good fight from Scamurra.
Trick Shot Challenge
Time to show off those tricky skills. The winner will be decided by the fans in attendance.
Team Szabados: Amanda Kessel, Madison Packer, Katerina Mrázová
Team Stecklein: Gigi Marvin, Emily Fluke, Jillian Dempsey
Jay: This is my favorite event on the weekend. I’m excited to see what they all do. Dempsey’s got sick hands so hopefully she’ll break out some crazy stick handling. The winner will be ... whoever gets the crowd into it.
Bryant: It would be a baller move if for her shot, Amanda Kessel skates to center ice, drags with her one of those rolling TVs in every school classroom, pops in a tape (not even a DVD) of her Olympic shootout move and drops the mic. I’m going with Kessel. I’m curious what Mrázová has up her sleeve, though.
Lopez: The fans. Hands down. No matter what the players come up with, the fans always win. This competition is an opportunity for the players to get creative and have fun. Whether it’s pulling a surprise shooter from your hockey bag, using a mini-stick to take your shot, or having a young fan put on your jersey to take the shot, the players always put on a show and the fans love them for it.
Murphy: Mrázová has amazing hands, so she’s my favorite here. With that being said, I am expecting something great from Packer. She’s always juggling pucks on her stick in practice. She has some great hand-eye coordination.
Bevis: Here’s the thing: this is called the trick-shot challenge, but since the fans are voting, expect the winner to be the player that hams it up the most on the ice. Packer is going to run away with this one, hands down.
Demestihas: Mrázová has to have the slickest mitts in the league from what I’ve seen, but a lot of this does depend on the crowd. I could see Fluke pulling this off, too, because she’s got the moves and the personality that the fans love to cheer for.
Wollschlager: After showing the entire world what she was capable of in a shootout on an internationally televised stage, I think Amanda Kessel is going to have an edge in confidence, which will make all the difference when dazzling the Nashville crowd.
Strollo: Will refs be on the ice for this? If so, Packer banking one in off of a ref would be a statement I’m sure she would make. If not, she is still going to get the whole crowd on her side because that’s what she does. If she is disqualified for said puck hitting ref, Mrázová will kill it.
The player with the hardest shot will win a point for their team.
Team Szabados: Blake Bolden, Amanda Boulier, Shannon Doyle, Audra Richards
Team Stecklein: Lee Stecklein, Michelle Löwenhielm, Alyssa Gagliardi, Courtney Burke
Jay: Bolden will defend her title from season two. Though I think Stecklein and Burke will give her a run for her money.
Bryant: Blake Bolden’s 87 mph is a heck of a mark to beat. If anyone can do it, I’d bet on the 6’0” Lee Stecklein. But I’m holding firm that Bolden will retain her title.
Lopez: Bolden set the high-water mark the last time she participated so that makes her the favorite. That being said, I think Stecklein’s build may allow her to generate more power. It’ll be close but I’m going to give it to Stecklein by a few mph.
Murphy: I’m going to break from the pack and say Blake Bo— oh, we’re all saying Bolden? Oh. Well. It’s going to be Bolden. But don’t sleep on Stecklein or Alyssa Gagliardi.
Bevis: #BeBoldenForChange #BoldforGold #GoldenBolden (If Bolden doesn’t repeat, Doyle or Löwenhielm are taking the crown. Bet.)
Demestihas: Stecklein has this. I know everyone has Bolden to win, but we haven’t seen Stecklein at an ASG yet and I have a feeling her size and height will give her an advantage here. Plus, having seen her play internationally plenty of times, I really think people might be surprised at what her shot clocks in at.
Wollschlager: I’m afraid of what might happen if I don’t say Bolden. I have to see her in a few weeks. I’m sure the retribution would be swift and unpleasant. Blake Bolden will win the hardest shot competition.
Strollo: I’m forever picking the very slept on rookie Audra Richards for this one. For no reason other than I want to break from the Bolden mold, and that I believe in her. She didn’t mess around up in Maine.
Go for Goal Shootout Relay
All the players will participate in this one. The team that scores the most goals in the allotted time is awarded the point.
Jay: Because Shannon Szabados is Shannon Szabados I’m going to give her team the win. This will be very fun to watch though.
Bryant: Team Stecklein has some silky smooth mitts on their side between Gigi Marvin, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi and Jonna Curtis. That’s as good a shootout lineup as can be assembled. I’ll roll with them.
Lopez: Team Szabados. Szabados is putting up insane numbers in net this season. No reason to believe she won’t be a brick wall when it comes to this.
Murphy: Szabados. Why? Because.
Bevis: UMMMMMMM STECKLEIN I GUESS. I have literally no idea, it’s a toss-up, but it’s going to be fun. Can both teams win??
Demestihas: This is going to be a battle of the goalies, but Szabados has been so insanely good in the league this year that I’m going to give her team the edge.
Wollschlager: The teams are going to tie and the goalies will have to shoot to decide the matchup. Szabados is going to step into the office and rifle home a clapper to win it. The world will elect her supreme leader of Earth. I will weep tears of joy.
Strollo: Both! Oh? That’s not an option...then I guess Szabados but if anyone asks I wasn’t able to make a decision because everyone is too good.
Team Szabados and Team Stecklein will play two 25-minute halves.
Jay: Uh...I hate doing these things. But I’m going to go with Team Szabados for reasons.
Bryant: Honestly, flip a coin. Both teams are loaded with talent and this is going to be a terrific contest. I’ll go with the team whose jerseys I like more, so I give the edge to Team Stecklein.
Lopez: Team Szabados for completely and unashamedly biased reasons.
Murphy: Team Szabados. On paper, I think they’re the more dangerous and complete team. But who the heck knows what’s going to happen? It’s become an NWHL All-Star Game tradition for one or two players to absolutely steal the show. This year, there’s so much talent in the game that there’s just no way to predict which team will celebrate in the Music City.
Bevis: Team Stecklein. It’s hard not to pick Szabados, because I think they have the better goaltending, but let’s be real: it’s an All-Star game, there will be no goaltending. Team Stecklein is sneaky good.
Demestihas: I think Team Stecklein will take the game, butI have a feeling it’s going to be nice and close regardless.
Wollschlager: In the first ever 0-0 finish of an all star game, the captains agree to end it in a tie after each team tries to win in the shootout twice. Szabados will be named MVP based on her supreme leader nomination. If the players do manage to score on these four incredible goaltenders, I think Team Szabados will take the win.
Strollo: I like the idea of going by jerseys so in that case, Szabados. Which fits because based on the roster, I’m sure I will find myself rooting for them much more. No bias here, obviously. I think Szabados will take it home, but really, won’t we all win just getting to watch it?