The teams are set and the battle lines drawn as some of the top players in the National Women’s Hockey League will shine in Pittsburgh at the all-star game.
Captains Amanda Kessel (New York Riveters) and Kelley Steadman (Buffalo Beauts) picked their teams this week via a Twitter draft.
Had a great time selecting my 2017 NWHL All-Star team. Toughest and worst part was not being able to pick so many deserving players weary— Amanda Kessel (@AmandaKessel8) January 10, 2017
“Had a great time selecting my 2017 NWHL All-Star team. Toughest and worst part was not being able to pick so many deserving players,” said Kessel on social media after the draft.
The all-star weekend, which takes place Feb. 11 to 12, will again have a skills component and Kessel wasn’t too shy about her thoughts on that. Among her picks was Hilary Knight (Boston Pride), who Kessel predicted will win all the shooting competitions and that one of her other picks, Gigi Marvin (Pride), would be a force in the shootout.
Kessel’s team has last year’s hardest shot winner Megan Bozek (Beauts).
Steadman, who scored the first goal in the inaugural NWHL all-star game last year, was also boasting about her team including last year’s hardest shot competitor Kaleigh Fratkin (Burnaby, B.C.) who plays for the Riveters.
Steadman has proven sniper Shiann Darkangelo (Beauts) on her roster. At the 2016 all-star game Darkangelo his all four targets in the shooting accuracy challenge in 25 seconds while Steadman herself knocked down all four within 17.4 seconds.
Kelli Stack (Connecticut Whale) was chosen first overall by Kessel while Steadman chose Brianna Decker (Pride).
Canadians Kelly Babstock (Whale) and Ashley Johnston (Riveters) were chosen by a media panel to participate in the all-star weekend. Babstock leads the NWHL in scoring with six goals and six assists. Johnston, the captain of the Riveters, is regarded as one of the top all-around defenders in the league.
Fans also selected four players to participate in the skills showdown and all-star game. More than 20,000 votes were placed over a two-week balloting process with Gigi Marvin (Pride), Harrison Browne (Beauts), Madison Packer (New York Riveters) and Rebecca Russo (Riveters) receiving the most votes.
The league’s four head coaches made the final four choices; Nicole Stock (Whale), Brittaney Ott (Pride), Katie Fitzgerald (Riveters) and Corinne Buie (Beauts).
The 2017 NWHL Skills Showdown will take place on Feb. 11 (4 p.m. ET/) and the NWHL All-Star Game will begin at 3 p.m. (ET) on Feb. 12. Both events will be at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the state-of-the-art practice facility of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
2017 NWHL All-Star Game roster:
Team Kessel coached by Riveters Chad Wiseman
Goaltenders (2): Brittany Ott, Nicole Stock
Defenders (4): Kacey Bellamy, Megan Bozek, Courtney Burke, Gigi Marvin
Forwards (8): Harrison Browne, Meghan Duggan, Zoe Hickel, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Rebecca Russo, Kelli Stack, Dana Trivigno
Team Steadman coached by Riveters assistant coach Sis Paulsen
Goaltenders (2): Katie Fitzgerald, Brianne McLaughlin
Defenders (4): Blake Bolden, Kaleigh Fratkin, Emily Pfalzer, Ashley Johnston
Forwards (8): Kelly Babstock, Corinne Buie, Alex Carpenter, Shiann Darkangelo, Brianna Decker, Madison Packer, Haley Skarupa, Kelley Steadman
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