Darkangelo, Dempsey, Thunstrom named PHF All-Star captains

From team captain (and assistant captains) to all-star captains

The Premier Hockey Federation’s overhaul of All-Star Weekend comes with a brand-new format with three teams headed by three captains: Toronto’s Shiann Darkangelo, Boston’s Jillian Dempsey and Minnesota’s Allie Thunstrom.

All-Star captaincy was determined by two rounds of player voting, facilitated by both league administration and the Players’ Association.

Darkangelo, representing the hosting Toronto Six, has five points through seven games this season. Where she has stood out this season has mostly been her defensive play, ranking fourth in the league in takeaways (14) and first in face-off percentage amongst players with more than 20 draws taken (64.8%). This will be Darkangelo’s third All-Star appearance, having represented Connecticut in 2016 and Buffalo in 2017.

Dempsey is no stranger to the All-Star scene, as this is her fourth appearance and second time captaining a team. She previously led Team Dempsey to a 5-2 win over Team Packer at the 2020 All-Star Game in Nashville. Dempsey is having a very Jillian Dempsey season: four goals and three assists through eight games, dominant on face-offs and currently captaining a winning 6-2-0 Pride team.

Thunstrom, appearing in her third consecutive All-Star game, is currently tied for the Whitecaps’ team lead in points with four through six games, equaled by Jonna Curtis. She is one of only two PHF players this season to have registered both a powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal to this point in the season, the other player being the Riveters’ Madison Packer.

Three teams is a departure for the norm for the PHF All-Star Showcase. Rather than two days’ worth of festivities, one devoted to a skills competition and one to a full-length game, there is but one day on Jan. 29 for players to take part in a three-game mini-tournament. Each team will play in two condensed games, complete with 10 minutes of 5-on-5 play, five minutes of 3-on-3 play and a shootout (number of rounds has not yet been disclosed). The combined total number of goals scored in each phase of the condensed games will determine the winner of the Showcase.

It’s a creative workaround, all things considered. It improves on an already established idea of a round-robin type of play in a single night (the National Hockey League introduced the idea of a one-night 3-on-3 tournament for four divisions in 2016- the infamous John Scott Game) while still providing fans with non-monotonous types of gameplay as well as players with a chance to showcase personality in the shootout.

Not to mention, with international travel being what it is right now, an overnight trip to Canada just may not be in the cards for an event like this. It remains to be seen how Ontario’s latest capacity mandates will affect the PHF All-Star Showcase, which is scheduled to be held at York Canlan Sports in Toronto. The PHF has already had to announce three postponements for games in the last week.

Toronto has the potential to see quite a bit of local representation from the Six, with Mikyla Grant-Mentis currently tied for the league lead in scoring with 11 points in seven games plus Lindsey Eastwood, Michela Cava and Taylor Woods operating at a near point-per-game clip.

The remaining 30 competitors in the Showcase will be chosen by PHF coaches from all six teams, with three skaters and one goaltender chosen by fan voting. Teams will be determined through a virtual draft, to be held in January.

The All-Star Showcase will stream live in the United States exclusively on ESPN+, in Canada to TSN and TSN Direct subscribers, and through the ESPN International distribution network.