Team White, led by captain Carlee Campbell, had key contributions from Marie-Philip Poulin, Jess Jones, and Jill Saulnier and 30 minutes of shutout goaltending from the Toronto Furies’ Christina Kessler to roll to a 9-5 victory at the CWHL’s All-Star Game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday.
The third annual All-Star game set a new CWHL record for a ticketed event with 8,122 fans in attendance. Only the first instalment of the All-Star game had more people, but that game was free.
Team White got hat tricks from the Brampton Thunder’s Jones and the Calgary Inferno’s Saulnier in the high scoring game. Poulin made her presence known, notching a goal and three beautiful assists, including two beautiful tape-to-tape set ups for Saulnier and another to Meghan Grieves of the Boston Blades.
Saulnier was named the game’s first star, Jones got second star, and Poulin the third. Team White’s Rebecca Johnston also had a four point game with a goal and three assists.
“[Saulnier’s] a great [player] to play with,” Poulin said after the game. “We had the chance to play together a couple of times with the national team and she’s so dynamic, so skilled and when you see her on the ice, my jaw drops every time she has the puck. She’s really good and she made me look good today.”
“The group of girls that we have out here are tremendous,” Saulnier said. “Some were idols of mine growing up, and I had the opportunity to play with them today in Poulin and [Caroline] Ouellette. You know, it’s an exciting time and obviously it’s fun to contribute in a special game like this, for sure.”
Perhaps the most fun moment of the game happened during a TV timeout during the third period, when Psy’s “Gangnam Style” came on over the PA. Ever the character, Team White coach and Olympic gold medalist Tessa Bonhomme got the crowd going by dancing on the jumbotron.
When the director cut to Team Blue coaches Cheryl Pounder and Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux, they followed suit, along with the entire Team Blue bench. Team White’s bench joined in the fun, much to the pleasure of the fans in the stands at the ACC, which included many girls hockey teams.
“Just knowing that maybe one day, they’ll want to aspire to play in the CWHL, and they want to play in that game, I think it was quite fun to see,” said Poulin.
This was the second time Bonhomme tried to inject fun into the All-Star game. In the first event, when she was a player, she threw her glove at Natalie Spooner when she was on a breakaway from the bench.
When Spooner realized that Bonhomme would be coaching against her, she said she hoped she would throw something softer at her this time, and Bonhomme obliged opting to throw down some dance moves.
Spooner was captain of Team Blue along with her National team teammate and Amazing Race Canada partner Meaghan Mikkelson. Team White got off to a 3-0 lead in the first period, and Blue couldn’t score on Kessler, who made 18 saves and shut out the opposition.
Kessler was the unofficial goaltender of the game for the second straight All-Star game, and was the only one to not allow a goal. She has allowed one goal in three All-Star game appearances.
Team Blue would cut the lead to one, to make it 4-3 on Jenelle Kohanchuk’s first of two goals on the night, but that was as close as they would come. Kohanchuk would also add an assist for a three-point night.
The CWHL regular season ends next weekend. Les Canadiennes will be in Calgary to face the Calgary Inferno. However, the regular season seeding is confirmed. Les Canadiennes will host the Brampton Thunder in two weeks in the best-of-three CWHL semi-final.