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.
The Whale had originally sent five players down, but Meeri Räisänen could not attend as she was called up to the Finnish National Team. [Congrats are in order for her!]
The four players that did go to the All Star game were Shannon Doyle, Emily Fluke, Michelle Löwenhielm, and Katerina Mrázová.
Doyle and Mrázová played for Team Szabados; Fluke and Löwenhielm played for Team Stecklein.
Photo from nwhl.zone
Only two skills competition events were needed for the Whale players as it was Mrázová vs Fluke in the trick shot challenge, and it was Löwenhielm vs Doyle in the hardest shot competition.
At the end of the six events, it was tied at three apiece. A best two out of three shootout was required between Beauts goalie Shannon Szabados and Whitecaps defender Lee Stecklein. Szabados stopped all the attempts by Stecklein, giving Shannon Doyle and Katerina Mrázová the bragging rights so far over the weekend.
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.
Also, it wouldn’t be Nashville without someone throwing a catfish on the ice that landed right by Shannon Doyle just before the opening faceoff.
The All Star game was two 25 minute halves of four on four hockey. The Whale had a really spectacular showing in Nashville. After Riveters forward Audra Richards gave Team Szabados the 1-0 lead, Whale defender Shannon Doyle had a great rush up the left side of the ice. She got to the left circle, she made a great drop pass to Katerina Mrázová, who then roofed it over Nicole Hensley’s shoulder to give Team Szabados the 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
After some halftime music by a live band at Bridgestone Arena, the second half began with Team Stecklein chasing a 2-0 lead. Team Stecklein would get a goal back when Beauts forward Lisa Chesson redirected a shot from Pride forward Gigi Marvin which found the back of the net. A few shifts would go by without a goal, but during that goalless break, we got to see some pretty spectacular defending at the blue line from Michelle Löwenhielm. Later in the half, Emily Fluke would net a five hole goal that tied the game at two. We also got to see an awesome celly between the Team Stecklein players:
At the end of the second half, the game was tied at two. Just like yesterday’s skills competition, the game would require a shootout to determine a winner. In the shootout, there would only be one goal, and it came from Riveters forward Amanda Kessel. It would give Team Szabados the victory and the sweep for the weekend!
It was a pretty historic All Star weekend, the best part about it 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!
Not to mention that All Star MVP and Beauts goalie Shannon Szabados talked about the amazingness of nearly ONE MILLION people that watched over the weekend!
Here is my favorite photo from the weekend!:
The Whale have three games left on the season, all of them will be home games. The first game will be against the Boston Pride on February 24th at Terry Conners Rink. Puck drop for that game will be 3p EST. The game will be a Twitter Game of the Week, and you can watch that here: https://twitter.com/nwhl