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The Wraparound: National Team players in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition

Plus the NWHL playoff picture and other links from around women’s hockey

2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills - Fastest Skater Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

Would the Story of the Week be anything but the 20 US and Canadian National Team players who are in the NHL All-Star Skills competition? The answer is no.

I want to start off by saying I’m definitely excited by this. I think its a great chance to put women’s hockey on a huge stage in a normally “off year” (aka the Olympics are next year or last year, when we typically see the most interest). The 3-on-3 format is going to showcase what these players excel at and is a great way to show off their skill set.

It also far and away better than the past year’s where the players demonstrated the drills and were more or less props. Don’t forget, Kendall Coyne Schofield only competed last year because a player got hurt at the last minute. Brianna Decker, Renata Fast, and Rebecca Johnston were still hanging in the background of it all.

But I’m cautiously optimistic.

Steve Mayer, the NHL’s chief content officer and executive vice president of events and entertainment, gave a statement to The Athletic that gave me pause. “This is a meaningful event — it’s on national television, not only are they going to be performing and playing in front of 20,000 people in the arena, but they are also playing in front of 40 of the greatest players in the NHL.”

Why is playing in front of the NHL players being treated as some great prize? To me, phrases like this make it seem like to the NHL women’s hockey is still below men’s hockey. These are Olympians, arguably some of the great women to ever play the game, not just 40 of the greatest players this year. The men are the ones who are treated to watching the best women play.

They’ve also given the women their own event, which again, is great. But the cynic in me looks at this and see that the NHL is afraid of the women competing against the men and having the #PayDecker issue happen again. Now they are confined to their own event where they’ll play against each other, and the NHL can wipe their hands clean of any potential controversy.

And then there’s the pay issue. The NHL is giving $100,000 in the name of the 20 National Team players to various charities that support girls and women’s hockey. Just pay them for darn sakes. It’s as easy as that (I mean it is probably more complicated then that but you know what I mean).

To bring it back on a positive note, the NHL brought in Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Cammi Granato, Angela Ruggiero, and Hayley Wickenheiser to advise on the rosters so we didn’t just get the 20 biggest names. Also, according Hailey Salvian at The Athletic, the players are being treated like the NHL players with equipment and jersey fittings (though no PWHPA nor National Team jerseys, the intrigue!) as well as their own locker room. So that’s cool!

Oh and the four referees will be all women - Kelly Cooke, Katie Guay, Kendall Hanley, and Kirsten Welsh. Also cool!

Okay I’ve ranted enough (for now) so here’s some other people’s words on it. Hannah Bevis and I also talk about this in this week’s Top Shelf episode so watch for that on Friday morning.

Why the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 has the makings of an NHL all-star weekend show-stealer | The Hockey News
By pitting some of the best American and Canadian women’s players against each other in a 20-minute 3-on-3 event, the stage has been set for a contest that will be the talk of NHL all-star weekend.

Women’s hockey players at NHL All-Star is good, but still a long way to go | Boston Herald
The NHL announced elite women’s hockey players would participate in NHL All-Star weekend activities earlier this week, and they have a much larger role than they have in previous events. There’s a couple of differences this time around, though, and some of them bars progress.

‘This is going to be some showcase’: NHL confirms rosters for Canada vs. USA women’s 3-on-3 at All-Star Game | The Athletic ($)
Top Canadian and American women’s hockey players will face off in a 3-on-3 game at NHL All-Star weekend.

NWHL

The Boston Pride continued their winning ways, narrowly beating the Metropolitan Riveters in their Monday matinee. The Riveters looked the strongest they have all season, after a rough start. This was a different team than the one who faced the Pride in the first few games.

The Connecticut Whale visited the Minnesota Whitecaps where they struggled to get anything going. The Whitecaps outscored them 13-1, not great.

This sets up a huge upcoming weekend in the NWHL as the Pride head west to the Whitecaps. The four points on the line will be huge as we head into the final five to six games of the season.

As for the playoff picture, the Pride have already locked up at least a home game in the first round, which general manager Karilyn Pilch confirmed on a Bruins podcast as March 8. The Whitecaps have all but locked up second as well as the only way the Riveters can catch them is if the Whitecaps lose every game and the Riveters win every remaining game.

It really comes down to the Beauts and Riveters and the four remaining games (!!) between the two. They play each other in the literal last game of the regular season and there’s a chance that will be the deciding game.

Standings as of 1/21

Team GP W L OTL PTS ROW GF GA PIM
Team GP W L OTL PTS ROW GF GA PIM
Boston 19 19 0 0 38 18 101 36 187
Minnesota 18 12 4 2 26 12 76 37 136
Metropolitan 17 7 9 1 15 6 50 70 224
Buffalo 18 6 11 1 13 6 53 86 246
Connecticut 18 1 15 2 4 1 30 79 175

#NWHLxWISS: Biomedical Engineer and Defender Mallory Souliotis | NWHL

Rookie standout Lexie Laing is carrying on the family legacy with the NWHL’s Boston Pride: | The Hockey News
Her two older sisters, Brianna and Denna, have pulled on the Pride jersey in the past, but the youngest of the Laing siblings is making her own distinct mark on the NWHL.

Buffalo Beauts Maddie Norton Making the Most of Her Opportunities | The Hockey Writers
Though used sparingly throughout the team’s first 18 games of the 2019-20 season, Buffalo Beauts forward Maddie Norton is all-in to help her hockey club.

Bringing the Beauts to the Buffalo community is paying off | The Ice Garden
The Beauts have immersed themselves in their community, and the benefits are multiplying.

PWHPA

The only PWHPA game this weekend was in Waterloo where Team McIntosh beat Team Gabel, 7-4.

Four PWHPA players to play in ECHL All-Star Classic - The Ice Garden
Get ready for some 3-on-3 hockey
Four PWHPA players will be playing in the ECHL 3-on-3 All-Star game Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on NHL Network.

“We were sick and tired of faking it” — The PWHPA’s Quest for Professionalism Continues | Victory Press

GAP YEAR EPI 1 - Part-time professional hockey player | YouTube
This is the first episode of a longer series. The nine-minute video does a good job at showing what life was like in the CWHL, and how some of the players felt when the league folded. It’s definitely worth the nine minutes.

NCAA

Polls: TIG // USCHO // USA Today

Weekend Wrap: January 20 | College Hockey | USCHO.com
St. Lawrence split their series with (7) Clarkson and (4) Cornell made a statement against (9) Harvard.

Scobee stars in senior season, that almost never was | kare11.com
An injury last summer caused her to renew her focus on the game.

From the backyard to the big stage | Wisconsin Badgers

With confidence and creativity, Minnesota Duluth’s Gabbie Hughes is a “rare breed” of player | At Even Strength
If you’re watching Minnesota Duluth play, it won’t be very long until you notice Gabbie Hughes on the ice.

USport

Top 10 Tuesday: Tigers leap to No.1 in women’s volleyball — Women’s Hockey | U SPORTS

Bishop’s Gaiters women’s hockey join RSEQ and U SPORTS for 2020-21 | U SPORTS

SDHL

Kanadensisk målvakt klar för HV71 Dam - HV71
Shea Tiley heads overseas as HV71 Dam goaltender Anna Amholt suffers a season-ending concussion.

International

Golden experience for Union’s Sciba | The Daily Gazette

USA Hockey announces roster for February Rivalry Series | The Ice Garden
With two wins in hand, Team USA prepares for the three February games in the Rivalry Series with a brand new roster.

Misc.

Hockey has a race problem. At Syracuse, things might be changing. | Daily Orange
In November, Akim Aliu started a moment of self-reflection for hockey, a moment that has touched every corner of the sport, even Syracuse.
The college paper at Syracuse comes out with one of the top looks at hockey’s race issues.

Josephine Aitken (Ojibwe/Ho-Chunk): Aspiring Student-Athlete At Bemidji HS (MN) On The Ice, Field and Track | NDNSPORTS
This isn’t the best written piece but it is a cool look at a high school player.

Stars Shine Beneath Wintry Blanket | Minnesota Hockey Magazine
Literally nothing screams MINNESOTA more than a Hockey Day Minnesota. Team Minnesota took on Team Minneapolis in a snowy outdoor game.