The NWHL hosted their All Star festivities in Nashville, TN this past weekend. The best players from all five teams came down and showcased their talents in front of an electric Nashville crowd. The skills competition was held at the Ford Ice Center, the practice facility for the Predators; while the All Star Game itself was at the Bridgestone Arena in Downtown Nashville.
Here’s how the rosters looked for the weekend:
It was a full house at the Ford Ice Center for the NWHL skills competition; people gathered to watch the players have fun and show off. The first event was the fastest skater, in which Kristin Lewicki won the event last year. This year had the likes of Michelle Picard, Amanda Pelkey, Lexi Bender, and Kendall Coyne Schofield for Team Szabados; and Lisa Chesson, Jonna Curtis, Kate Schipper, and Allie Thunstrom for Team Stecklein. If anyone saw the NHL’s fastest skater competition, knows that Coyne was going to be the odds on favorite, and she delivered. Coyne was actually faster than when she did the NHL’s event, [14.3 for the NHL and 13.9 for the NWHL].
The next competition was the fastest goalies, in which Amanda Leveille returned to defend her title. All four goalies Katie Burt, Amanda Leveille, Shannon Szabados, and Nicole Hensley skated. The final showdown came in the form of a “battle of the teammates” Szabados v Hensley, and it was Nicole Hensley who claims bragging rights.
Accuracy shooting was up next, where Corinne Buie was the winner last year. The three shooters for Team Szabados were Haley Skarupa, Haley Scamurra, and Savannah Harmon and the three shooters for Team Stecklein were Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, and Emily Pfalzer. In the end, it was Dani Cameranesi who proved to be the most accurate!
Talents were on display during the next event, which was the trick shot challenge. All of the skaters have great hands and great creative minds. For Team Szabados it was Amanda Kessel, Madison Packer, and Katerina Mrázová and for Team Stecklein it was Gigi Marvin, Emily Fluke, and Jillian Dempsey. In this particular event, the fans got to vote for the winner of the competition. The event had everything, from Amanda Kessel doing the Flying V from the Mighty Ducks, to Madison Packer with a smooth spin-o-rama attempt that almost scored, to Emily Fluke throwing a cowboy hat, and having her second shot saved by Katie Burt with her back toward her.
In the end it was Team Stecklein who won over the fans and getting their vote.
Up next was the hardest shot competition with players who can really bring the heat on their slapshots. Last years winner of the event was Kelsey Koezler, and the players looking to take the title were, for Team Szabados were Shannon Doyle, Amanda Boulier, Audra Richards, and Blake Bolden; and for Team Stecklein were Michelle Löwenhielm, Alyssa Gagliardi, Courtney Burke, and the captain Lee Stecklein. There were a lot of really hard shots, but Blake Bolden won with her shot reaching 80 mph!
The last event was a go for goal shootout relay in which all the skaters for Team Szabados and Team Stecklein took shootout attempts, and the team with the most goals was declared the winner. After some pretty nifty attempts, it was Team Stecklein who won the event.
This meant at the end of all competitions, both teams were tied at three wins a piece. It meant that to settle it in a tiebreaker, it was captain vs captain in a best two out of three shootout attempts. Szabados made all the saves and her team won the Skills Competition!
Audio from Dani Cameranesi of the Buffalo Beauts [Team Stecklein]
Audio from Kendall Coyne Schofield of the Minnesota Whitecaps [Team Szabados]
All Star Game
The All Star Game took place at Bridgestone Arena after the Blues v. Predators game, in which the St. Louis Blues proved victorious in overtime.
It wouldn’t be Nashville without someone throwing a catfish on the ice that landed right by Shannon Doyle just before the opening faceoff.
Both teams skated to two 25 minute halves of four on four hockey. In the first half, Team Szabados jumped out to the lead, the goal coming from the Riveters rookie forward Audra Richards. Richards, who has eight goals on the year continues her scoring prowess by getting the opening marker. Later in the half, Shannon Doyle led the rush and made a nice drop pass on top of the circle, and it fell on the stick of leading Connecticut Whale scorer Katerina Mrázová, who roofed the shot over Nicole Hensley. The goal gave Team Szabados a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
During the intermission, and because Nashville is known as Music City, there was some live music being played while we waited for the second half.
The second half had a lot of good back and forth action and then Gigi Marvin took a shot from the point which got redirected by Lisa Chesson and it found the net beating Katie Burt. The goal cut the Team Szabados lead in half. Later in the half, the game would be tied at two as Whale captain Emily Fluke netting a five hole goal!
Both goalies [Leveille and Burt] made really incredible saves and at the end of the second half, the score was tied at two. The game moved into a shootout in which Amanda Kessel was the first shooter and she beat Leveille five hole. Then Katie Burt stopped all three Team Stecklein attempts, giving the victory to Team Szabados!
The best part about the All Star Game weekend was the attendance by the Nashville faithful. The recorded attendance was 6, 120, which set a record for largest crowd for a women’s hockey game in the United States!
Audio from Amanda Kessel of the Metropolitan Riveters [Team Szabados]:
Audio from Jonna Curtis of the Minnesota Whitecaps [Team Stecklein]:
Audio from Shannon Szabados of the Buffalo Beauts [Team Szabados]:
Audio from Lee Stecklein of the Minnesota Whitecaps [Team Stecklein]: