The 2020 NWHL All-Star Weekend is fast approaching, and with it comes the selection of the 32 players that will compete on Team Dempsey and Team Packer at the beginning of February.
While many of the players selected came as a surprise to no one, what was more astonishing was the players left off the rosters.
Despite sitting outside the top ten amongst league leaders in scoring, the second year Connecticut Whale forward has been making a splash with the Pod this season. Meneghin currently leads the Whale in points (4-4-8) and is second only to teammate Emma Vlasic in goals scored (4 to Vlasic’s 5). She’s also already quadrupled her production from last year in as many games, with a half the season left to push even higher. Anyone who watches her play -- or watched her shoot her way into fourth in NCAA D-III all-time points -- knows that she’s a master on the ice, especially when you consider that .143 shooting efficiency.
WATCH: On her birthday, @kayla_meneghin sets up her linemate @emmavlasic from behind the net for this big goal for the @CTWhale_NWHL!— NWHL (@NWHL) December 22, 2019
We have two games on @Twitch streaming live and free! Tune in now!
📺: https://t.co/mx5FVvQzaM pic.twitter.com/kPhtAkM5o4
It might be Emily Fluke’s first year with the Boston Pride, but she’s certainly roaring into her new role with the black and gold. The third year NWHLer has already more than doubled her offensive production from the previous two seasons with the Connecticut Whale, and boasts an impressive scoring efficiency of .188, putting her near the top of the league. What’s interesting is that everyone around her on the scoreboard in terms of points, scoring efficiency, goals, and points per game was selected to the All-Star Weekend, so Fluke’s non-selection comes as a surprise to pretty much everyone who’s been keeping up with the league.
Mallory Souliotis has been a staple on the Boston Pride’s blue line for three seasons. While some might debate the merit of +/-, anyone looking at Souliotis’ record wouldn’t waver with their assessments. After all, she’s +24 through fifteen games, the fourth highest in the entire league. She’s one of the highest scoring defenders in the league right now, sitting just out of the top five with eleven points over fifteen games. She’s disciplined too, having taken only five penalties through the midway point of the season. The case can be made that Souliotis, one of the handful of players to remain on the Pride from last season, has set herself apart from many of the league’s defenders and established herself as an all-star.
If you were to look at the stats sheet, the Connecticut Whale’s Brooke Wolejko appears to sit squarely in the middle — her 3.52 goals against average is fifth amongst the league’s goaltenders, and her .917 save percentage places her in fourth, just behind 2020 All-Star Amanda Leveille and ahead of 2020 All-Star Mariah Fujimagari. Nonetheless, Wolejko faces an incredibly high volume of shots (192 over 4 games started) and made a jaw-dropping 103 saves on the weekend vs. Boston at the end of December. If nothing else, that performance alone should have earned her an all-star selection, but the fates didn’t align for either of the Whale goaltenders.
The Buffalo Beauts’ Klimášová is one of the highest scoring forwards on her team, with 14 points to her name so far this season. She’s dominant when she’s in control of the puck, and a good defensive player as well. The only caveat — and perhaps the reason she wasn’t selected by the panel of coaches, general managers, and league staff — is her wealth of PIMs (35 on the season with a game ejection on December 29th against the Riveters).
Nonetheless, the Riveters’ Madison Packer and the Pride’s Kaleigh Fratkin are some of the most highly penalized players in the league, and they were both selected to this year’s game. The jury is out on whether Klimášová’s penalties were the reason she was snubbed, but the point remains — she’s demonstrated her offensive talent, and in the coming years, we’re likely to be seeing more of her around the league.
WATCH: We're all tapping our sticks after this HUGE shot block by Iveta Klimášová of the @BuffaloBeauts. A brave, selfless defensive play late in the third period of a 3-3 tie game. Watch the thrilling conclusion of this game on @Twitch!!— NWHL (@NWHL) December 22, 2019
📺: https://t.co/EHkD9gflXv pic.twitter.com/NiYd1tGZ3R