The 2019 CWHL All-Star Game took place on Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Arena where plenty of skill came out to play as Team Labonté defeated Team Pounder. If you look aside from the high scoring affair that took place in Toronto’s downtown core, plenty of storylines rose to the surface before the special weekend was brought to a close.
Liz Knox Outduels Team Purple
It was an afternoon to forget for Team Purple led by Glenn Healy as they very quickly trailed by a score of 3-0 amidst a lack of chemistry and production. In a series which gathered 34 of the league’s most talented players, it was Liz Knox of the Markham Thunder who came out playing in search of the victory.
During the CWHL Weekend on Sportsnet in which the Thunder took on the Inferno, Leah Hextall and Jennifer Botterill announced that Liz Knox would be one of the team captains, a position she had never previously been in, never mind just being selected as an All-Star.
Liz Knox was one of seven players selected as an All-Star from the Markham Thunder as she was joined by Megan Bozek, Jocelyne Larocque and Laura Fortino on Team Gold. They were coached by former Toronto Maple Leaf goaltender Curtis Joseph.
On Team Purple was Jamie-Lee Rattray alongside Laura Stacey and Victoria Bach who were captained by Bridgette Lacquette, a right-handed defensemen located out West with the Calgary Inferno.
Laura Stacey would come out of the afternoon having scored a goal of her own to go alongside a single assist, meanwhile, Victoria Bach and Laura Fortino would be credited with assists as well.
Calgary Inferno Put On Power Display
On an afternoon that was dedicated to 34 of the CWHL’s best players, it certainly seemed as if the Calgary Inferno were more than ready ahead of game time as Brianna Decker started off hot, netting one of her own to open the scoring.
Moving on just two minutes later and looking to do more damage, Natalie Spooner would pass the puck up the ice to Brianna Decker who would find the open slot and double Team Gold’s lead to 2-0. Decker’s second goal of the game would be all the scoring that took place in the opening period of play.
Moving onwards to the second now, just about two minutes in, Brianne Jenner would come off the draw flying, netting one past Noora Raty to double Team Gold’s lead. That wouldn’t be all for Jenner as the Canadian came back fiery a short time later, retrieving the puck from along the boards and quickly scoring her second goal of the game.
As if this wasn’t enough, Blayre Turnbull would be next to add fuel to Calgary’s fire, scoring Team Purple’s first goal of the game on assists from Marie-Philip Poulin and Erin Ambrose.
The Inferno weren’t finished there as the production carried into the third period when Brianne Jenner, standing out front of Team Purple’s net, received a pass from Les Canadiennes forward Ann-Sophie Bettez and slapped it past Alex Rigsby, recording her third goal of the game for a hat trick.
As the third period carried on, Zoe Hickel found the puck on an assist from Victoria Bach, giving Team Gold a three point lead over Team Purple with just under seven minutes left to play in the final frame. Team Gold would go on to defeat Team Purple by a final score of 8-4.
Ann-Sophie Bettez Promising In Team Gold Victory
Amongst the seven members of Les Canadiennes who were voted in as All-Stars, it was 31-year-old forward Ann-Sophie Bettez who stole the show, recording a goal and adding on two assists as part of Team Gold 8-4 victory over Team Purple.
Bettez is currently in her seventh season as a member of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, previously with the Martlets from McGill University in Montreal.
While Bettez was named the game’s second star for her performance, she certainly wasn’t in it alone alongside the likes of six of her teammates. This list included Marie-Philip Poulin, Erin Ambrose, Jill Saulnier, Hilary Knight, Emerance Maschmeyer as well as Lauriane Rougeau.
Bettez, who was originally recruited to McGill University out of Dawson College, was joined alongside Hilary Knight, Jill Saulnier and Erin Ambrose on Team Gold, meanwhile, Emerance Maschmeyer, Marie-Philip Poulin and Lauriane Rougeau played for Glenn Healy on Team Purple.
Emerance Maschmeyer was named the starting goaltender against Liz Knox of the Markham Thunder who was coached by former Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph and former Canadiennes goaltender Charline Labonté.
To add to the performance that Bettez broke out with in the matinee, Marie-Philip Poulin would come out of it having recorded an assist of her own, meanwhile, Erin Ambrose came out with two, one of which came on the goal scored by Bettez in the second period.
Spooner A Contributor As Team Gold Leads The Way
While many expected to see the Toronto Furies battle it out on both ends of the ice, it was more so on Team Gold’s end thanks to veteran forward Natalie Spooner. Spooner, currently in her fourth season as a member of the CWHL, assisted on goals scored by Hanna Bunton and the Calgary Inferno’s Brianna Decker.
She also came close to scoring a goal she could call her own, however, with Liz Knox not missing a beat, the puck would not find it’s way past her and into the net.
In the days leading up to the one of the league’s most popular events, Spooner appeared on multiple platforms including Sportsnet to endorse the game, meanwhile, she has also partnered with the Maple Leafs organization to get the word out to larger audiences.
With the playoff picture rather evident at this particular point in time, Spooner will look to finish off her campaign on a high note the next three weeks with just eight games left to play before the Furies bid the season adieu.
Rivalry Series On The Horizon
With the regular season on the verge of being brought to wraps by all six teams, the 2019 Rivalry Series has been put in place by Hockey Canada. The first off three games will be played at Budweiser Gardens, home to the Knights in London while the second game will be brought over to Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto.
The third and final game will be played at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit where a winner will be named before the CWHL season reaches it’s conclusion. Speaking of which, Team Canada’s roster this year is completely made up of players from the league minus one.
From the league’s teams in the GTA, the roster will include Sarah Nurse, Natalie Spooner as well as Reneta Fast, meanwhile, from the Markham Thunder, it will include Laura Fortino, Laura Stacey and Canadian olympian Jocelyne Larocque.
In addition to them and all who typically take part in the event, 17 players from the 4 Nations Cup roster will also take part in the international series, meanwhile, goaltender Shannon Szabados will be the odd one out from the NWHL.
Speaking of players such as Reneta Fast from the Toronto Furies, it was announced earlier this week that she would be one of a select few from the CWHL who will take part in the NHL’s skills competition on Friday night out in San Jose. Joining Fast in California are Calgary Inferno forwards Brianna Decker and Rebecca Johnston.
While it’s been an exciting week to celebrate the game’s best players in downtown Toronto, it’s back to business on Saturday night when Les Canadiennes take on the Thunder at the Thornhill Community Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pmET and it can be viewed via stream on Youtube.com.