The Canadian Women's Hockey League showcased some of its Olympic talent in its inaugural All-Star Game and skills competition.
Hosted at the Air Canada Centre, home of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, the event was meant to bring attention to the league and some of the world's best female hockey players.
Rebecca Johnston, a forward for the Calgary Infernos, scored the game-winning goal for Team Red, which helped shore up a three-goal deficit in the third period for a 4-3 win over Team White. Boston Blades forward Kelli Stack took home MVP honors in a losing effort with a goal and an assist for Team White.
The roster of 42 skaters, made up from the league's five member teams -- the Blades, Inferno, Brampton Thunder, Montreal Stars and Toronto Furies -- were selected 'pond-hockey' style by Red captain Charline Labonte, a goalie for Montreal, and White's Jessica Campbell, a forward with the Inferno. The squads iced a combined 19 Olympians from the U.S. and Canadian teams.
"I think it’s important for us, I think the big thing for us and our league is to get it out there, get people aware of our league and where we’re playing outside of Olympic years," Rebecca Johnston told Sportsnet, which broadcasted the game live in Canada on Sportsnet and the NHL Network in the U.S.
The event featured a shortened game with 15-minute periods to fit a 20-minute skills competition including fastest skater and a shootout.
The game drew a crowd 6,850, which may seem scant compared to NHL crowds, especially for a free game, but the demand was so high that the Air Canada Centre had to issue tickets instead of just letting people RSVP online.
-- Anna Gallegos