2020 NWHL All-Star Weekend Preview
The players are shipping up to Boston…
The NWHL is hosting its 2020 All-Star Game festivities this weekend, February 8-9 in Boston, Massachusetts at Warrior Ice Arena, the home of the first place Boston Pride.
Last year’s All-Star Game was held in Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena in conjunction with the Nashville Predators of the NHL. Headlined by Team Szabados, and Team Stecklein that event set an attendance record with 6,120, and the accompanying skills competition sold out Ford Ice Arena. Team Szabados ultimately won in a shootout.
Need to Know
- The Skills Competition will take place Saturday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. eastern at Warrior Ice Arena, home of the Boston Pride.
- The 2020 All-Star Game will be played at Warrior Ice Arena, Sunday, Feb. 9 at 2:30 p.m eastern.
- Both events will be streamed on the NWHL Twitch channel which has garnered over 5 million viewers this season so far.
- The game will be played in a 4-on-4, two 25-minute period format.
- The All-Star broadcasting team will feature Kelly Schultz, Alexis Pearson, Erica Ayala and Sam Fryman.
- This year, the NWHL chose to honor all eight players in the league who have played since the first season with automatic All-Star admissions. These players would be Corinne Buie of the Buffalo Beauts; Jordan Brickner (who was ultimately replaced by Hanna Beattie due to unavailability), Shannon Doyle and Elena Orlando of the Connecticut Whale; Jillian Dempsey and Kaleigh Fratkin of the Boston Pride; and Kiira Dosdall-Arena and Madison Packer.
- Dempsey and Packer, the leagues all-time leading scorers were chosen as team captains.
- There are nine returning players from last year, which are Lexi Bender, Madison Packer, Audra Richards, Amanda Leveille, Jonna Curtis, Jillian Dempsey, Allie Thunstrom, Shannon Doyle, and Amanda Boulier.
- The coaching staff will feature Pride head coach Paul Mara for Team Dempsey along with his honorary coaches Caitlin Mara and Heath Gordon as well as Andrew and Everly Raycroft for Team Packer./
Goaltenders: Amanda Leveille and Sam Walther.
Defenders: **Meghan Lorence, Amanda Boulier, Lenka Čurmová, Kaleigh Fratkin, Elena Orlando.
Forwards: Corinne Buie, Kendall Cornine, Grace Klienbach, Kate Leary, Madison Packer, Mary Parker, Christina Putigna, *Audra Richards, **Cailey Hutchison.
Goaltenders: Lovisa Selander and Mariah Fujimagari.
Defenders: Marie-Jo Pelletier, *Lexi Bender, Shannon Doyle, *Rebecca Morse, Kiira Dosdall-Arena.
Forwards: McKenna Brand, Jonna Curtis, Jillian Dempsey, Lexie Laing, Nicole Schammel, Allie Thunstrom, Emma Vlasic, Taylor Accursi, **Hannah Beattie.
*Lexi Bender, Rebecca Morse, and Audra Richards were all fan-voted into the game. This is Richards’ second time being fan-voted to the event in her second year playing. Last year’s fan vote saw around 2,300 votes while this year’s jumped to 15,389 for these all stars!
**Hanna Beattie, Meghan Lorence, and Cailey Hutchison are replacing Jordan Brickner, Sydney Baldwin, and Brooke Stacey respectively.
Skills Competition Events
Chipwich Fastest Skater
There was quite a spectacle around the Fastest Skater event last year. After competing with the NHL All-Stars at their event with a run of 14.326 seconds, Kendall Coyne-Schofield participated in the NWHL’s version just a week later and beat her own time once more...along with everyone else’s. With a 13.91 second run, she has the time to beat and fortunately for this year’s All Stars, she won’t be present.
Her former teammate, Allie Thunstrom will be though and using her speed skating roots, I’m sure she has her eyes on the prize. Jonna Curtis and Meghan Lorence from her team will also be participating along with Grace Klienbach, Christina Putigna, Lenka Čurmová.
Slalom Hardest Shot
Blake Bolden had previously cornered the market on this event but with her not playing in the league, the game is blown wide open. Audra Richards took third place in this event behind Lee Stecklein and Bolden last year with a 72 mph shot. She will once again try to claim the title with Team Packer teammates Kaleigh Fratkin, Corinne Buie, and Elena Orlando and Team Dempsey competition in Kiira Dosdall-Arena, Lexi Bender, Rebecca Morse, and Shannon Doyle.
Franklin Relay Race
A new event that will feature four of the All-Stars from each team together will be the relay race across the ice, four players from each team will take turns skating around, over, and under obstacles before finishing their run with a shot on goal. While this has never been done before, I can guarantee it will have the fun and energy only the NWHL could bring to a unique event.
Speed will definitely be a factor in the relay race, so I’m going to put my money on Team Dempsey for having a much speedier bunch overall. Taylor Accursi, Emma Vlasic, Nicole Schammel, and Marie-Jo Pelletier will represent Team Dempsey for that event, while Kate Leary, Kendall Cornine, Amanda Boulier, and Hanna Beattie will represent Team Packer.
The league also confirmed the Chipwich Fastest Goalie contest, Franklin Shooting Accuracy, and Dunkin’ Team Shootout. While we do not know who will be participating in these events, these are likely expectations.
Chipwich Fastest Goalie
Won last year by Beauts goalie, Nicole Hensley, the competition will be brand new this year but likely just as hilarious. If the event runs as it did in previous years, two goalies will go head to head in a cross-ice goalie race proven to be equal parts hilarious and competitive.
Amanda Leveille won the contest two years ago in the third All-Star Game so I would keep my eye on her this time around too, to beat Beauts goalie Mariah Fujimagari.
Franklin Shooting Accuracy
The accuracy challenge is a heavy favorite among hockey fans everywhere. While Corinne Buie has won this event previously, it does not appear that she is participating in it again. Jillian Dempsey, Lexie Laing, Madison Packer, Mary Parker, and McKenna Brand participating here would give every player a spot participating in one event. If this is the case, this will be quite the showdown of sharpshooters. Buie and her previous time of 12.6 seconds from the third annual All-Star Game will be looking on to see if any of them could break it.
Dunkin’ Team Shootout
The day will probably end with a shootout, much like last year’s trick shot challenge. All skaters will participate in this event against the team’s chosen goalies.
The battle of the goalies will be real, but just as much the talent and wit of the skaters will be showcased. I think Team Packer can take this one as a lot of players on her side are known for having hard and deadly shots as well as their creativity and ability to have fun with their shots.
Overall, I don’t think I even really care who wins because the whole thing will just be so fun however, I think Team Packer will take a win on Saturday during the Skills Competition, but ultimately fall to Team Dempsey on Sunday. The boldest of my predictions though, is that we will see the first ever All-Star Game penalty served. With Dempsey, Packer, and Fratkin all present, how could it not be?
Both events will be streamed on the NWHL Twitch channel, and tickets for the event are still available here.
Who do you think will win Sunday’s Showdown?
Who will win the 2020 All-Star Game?