With the return of the Olympians, the CWHL’s All-Star Game returns to the league schedule. Thirty-four players will take to the ice at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on January 20. Among them will be several GTA players.
The old hands
Four players are returning to the All-Star Game for their fourth time. Furies captain Natalie Spooner, Thunder captain Jocelyne Larocque, Thunder defender Laura Fortino, and last year’s Jayna Hefford Trophy winner Jamie Lee Rattray can all say they’ve played in every CWHL All-Star Game. Spooner has been named All-Star captain twice, but is the only one of the four to never have been on a winning team.
Megan Bozek played on Team Red in the inaugural All-Star Game in the 2014-15 season as a member of the Boston Blades, and Laura Stacey and Renata Fast were in the most recent game as rookies. All three are Olympians and Stacey, who currently leads her team in scoring, scored the game-winning goal in overtime for the Thunder in the 2018 Clarkson Cup Final.
This is Liz Knox’s eighth season in the CWHL, but it will be her first time as an All-Star. With only four goalie slots per game, the competition for the net is fierce. After two nods to her crease partner, Erica Howe, it’s Knox’s turn.
Unsurprisingly, Olympian and first-round draft pick Sarah Nurse will be attending her first All-Star Game, after an impressive start to the season. Her 11 points tie Spooner for the team lead, and she’s second in league rookie scoring behind fellow Olympian Mélodie Daoust of les Canadiennes. Markham first-rounder Victoria Bach will be joining her, after hitting the ground running with the Thunder—while she’s second in points on her team, Bach’s eight goals have her in a three-way tie for the league lead with Ann-Sophie Bettez and Rebecca Johnston. Not bad for a rookie.
Meanwhile, Mellissa Channell is perhaps the most surprising pick among the GTA players. Unlike the other rookies named she was neither a pre-signed draft pick nor an Olympian. However, her three assists in 11 games have her tied with Fast for the lead in scoring among Furies defenders, and she’s been consistently impressive through the first third of the season.
As in games past, fans will be able to vote for the two team captains once the full roster is announced.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs have started promoting the All-Star Game already. Check out this short skills competition that pits Natalie Spooner and Auston Matthews against Laura Stacey and Mitch Marner.
The Need for Speed Challenge!— CWHL (@TheCWHL) December 5, 2018
Who will win? @natspooner5 & @AM34 or @LauraStacey7 & @Marner93 ?? pic.twitter.com/nOHQ26ooPL
Tickets for the CWHL All-Star Game have not yet been released, although you can reserve tickets (no payment necessary) through a Google docs form linked from the league’s website or buy a CWHL Mystery box that includes two tickets to the game along with a CWHL puck, a team hat, and three autographed pictures of CWHL players.
If you can’t attend, the game will once again be broadcast on Sportsnet. Tune in for all the fun and festivities!