On a cold day in Toronto, it was nice and warm inside at Scotiabank Arena which played host in a matinee to the 2019 CWHL All-Star Game.
As you might expect with 34 of the league’s best players from across the country, the game got off to a quick start led by captains Liz Knox and Bridgette Lacquette who selected their teams on Saturday night along with the coaching staff that they played for.
After a slow first few minutes to get the puck moving due to a high level of intensity between the two sides, both teams respectively managed to a get a few shots fired on one another’s net, however, nothing would come of those opportunities before a stoppage of play was called at the eight minute mark.
Just a moment later with Team Gold looking to get something started offensively, Ann-Sophie Bettez from Les Canadiennes de Montreal would race the puck towards the net, finding Brianna Decker out in front of her to give her squad a 1-0 lead.
This wouldn’t be it with a fire now sparked for her team, Brianna Decker back at it again with her second goal just two minutes later. Natalie Spooner of the Furies would be credited with an assist on the play.
With a healthy lead now to play with, Team Purple would look to stall Decker and Team Gold with strong defensive play, however, with just over a minute left to go, they would be called for hooking, sending Jocelyne Larocque to the penalty box. The remainder of this play would resume at the start of the second period.
Moving onto the second frame, Team Purple would start off hot after failing to come up with anything in the first, firing a shot on Liz Knox but coming up empty as she made the save.
Less then a minute later with the puck now turned over in Team Purple’s zone, Team Gold would get right back at it with a goal scored by Brianne Jenner, helped out by defensemen Laura Fortino who would be credited with an assist on the play.
Team Purple, still looking for an offensive burst of their own to get themselves on the scoreboard, would turn the puck into the opposing zone with another shot fired on Liz Knox, stopped on the left side where they would loose possession to Team Gold.
After a short stint in Team Purple’s zone, they would come racing in right out front, firing one that would hit miss and hit the boards and swing around the ice. Team Gold would then pick it up along the boards and without looking back, Brianne Jenner would take full advantage of the opportunity, netting her second of the game on assists from Erin Ambrose and Casey Bellamy.
Now heating up after a slow opening frame, Blayre Turnbull would get things going for Team Purple at the nine minute mark, netting one right past Knox to open the scoring, now trailing by a score of 4-1. Marie-Philip Poulin and Erin Ambrose would be be credited with the assists.
As if this wasn’t enough while looking to make a comeback slowly but surely, Laura Stacey a moment later would find the puck on her own stick, once again driving it to Knox and slipping it past to even the scoring.
Moving on with just over four minutes left to play in the second period, Team Gold would get back to their regular offensive groove on a goal scored from Hanna Bunton to up their lead to 5-2.
From the right side point in Team Gold’s zone, the puck would be dropped with Team Gold winning the draw, however, Team Purple would quickly turn it over with an opportunity to score yet again.
After a failure to do so, Team Purple would win the next draw, also dropped at the right side point, this time making no mistake with Lauren Williams bringing them within a point. This would also be her first goal in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
Laura Stacey and Cayley Mercer were both credited with assists on the play, ultimately bringing the action to a close in the second period at Scotiabank Arena.
The third and final period kicked off from the right side dot in Team Gold’s zone, Team Purple making the most of their chances to come within a goal, if not, two to tie the game at 5.
However, they would be unable to do so with Team Gold driving the puck into the opposing zone though it wouldn’t last for long as Team Purple quickly regained possession with nearly enough room open to drive one in past Knox.
This would be followed by several back and forth chances in each other’s zones until Alex Rigsby finally came up with the save to bring the action to a halt for a brief moment. From the right side dot, Team Purple would find the puck and head up the ice with a shot fired on Knox, however it would just miss and hit the boards, swinging around the ice and back to Team Gold.
Ann-Sophie Bettez would then find the puck amidst its travels, quickly passing it to Brianne Jenner standing out front who would slap it past Alex Rigsby. As if this wasn’t enough, Bettez then took things into her own hands, just seconds later scoring one of her own with the help of Jenner and Montreal defensemen Erin Ambrose to double the lead.
The puck would then be dropped from the left side dot in Team Gold’s zone, Team Purple failing to gain possession as they found themselves being outdone yet again. With both teams playing strong defensively to keep one another away from the nets, Team Gold would hold onto the puck until losing it in their own zone.
Team Purple wouldn’t come up with anything, losing another chance to Team Gold with Natalie Spooner racing down the ice towards Alex Rigsby looking to do more damage offensively. With no open room to spare, Rigsby wouldn’t let it in before passing it back up the ice to her team for another chance to make a late comeback.
At the 14:52 mark, the puck would be dropped from the left side dot in Team Purple’s zone, perhaps a sign of good luck as Victoria Bach very quickly raced up the ice towards Liz Knox, however, not before passing it to Zoe Hickel who would then make it 7-4 for Team Gold.
With just over two minutes left now in the third and final period, Hanna Bunton would score her second of the game to give Team Gold an 8-4 lead. Furies forward Natalie Spooner would be credited with an assist on the play.
That would do it for the 2019 CWHL All-Star Game in Toronto as Team Gold would go on to defeat Team Purple by a score of 8-4. The next time that the league will find themselves on the big stage will be on March 24th at Coca-Cola Coliseum which will be the host venue of the yearly annual Clarkson Cup. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 1:30pmET while the game can be seen on Sportsnet as well as Sportsnet NOW.