NHL, PWHL Announce Rosters for 3-on-3 Challenge
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NHL, PWHL Announce Rosters for 3-on-3 Challenge

NHL, PWHL Announce Rosters for 3-on-3 Challenge by Melissa Burgess

Twenty-four PWHL players will participate in a 3-on-3 showcase on February 1 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto as part of the NHL's All-Star Weekend. Rosters were selected prior to the beginning of the PWHL season & include representatives from all six teams.

Cassie Campbell-Pascall, a special advisor to the PWHL, will coach Team King, named in honor of Billie Jean King. Meghan Duggan, director of player development for the NHL's New Jersey Devils, will coach Team Kloss, named in honor of Ilana Kloss. Both King & Kloss are PWHL Advisory Board members.

Here are the players who will participated in the showcase:

Coyne Schofield, Kendall F MIN 4 1 0 1
Knight, Hilary F BOS 2 0 0 0
Muller, Alina F BOS 2 0 1 1
Pannek, Kelly F MIN 4 1 2 3
Poulin, Marie-Philip F MTL 5 4 1 5
Turnbull, Blayre F TOR 4 0 0 0
Harmon, Savannah D OTT 2 0 1 1
Keller, Megan D BOS 2 1 0 1
Shelton, Ella D NY 5 2 5 7
Stecklein, Lee D MIN 4 1 2 3
Desbiens, Ann-Renee G MTL 4 2.23 0.912 93
Frankel, Aerin G BOS 2 2.46 0.898 44
Carpenter, Alex F NY 5 3 4 7
Clark, Emily F OTT 2 0 0 0
Heise, Taylor F MIN 4 3 1 4
Jenner, Brianne F OTT 2 0 0 2
Nurse, Sarah F TOR 4 1 1 2
Roque, Abby F NY 5 1 2 3
Stacey, Laura F MTL 4 2 0 2
Ambrose, Erin D MTL 5 1 1 2
Fast, Renata D TOR 4 0 1 1
Larocque, Jocelyne D TOR 4 0 1 1
Hensley, Nicole G MIN 3 1.50 0.955 64
Maschmeyer, Emerance G OTT 3 1.98 0.917 44

Micah Zandee-Hart is unable to participate due to injury.

Players are being compensated for their participation. This is an NHL event, not a PWHL All-Star Game, so the compensation regarding All-Star participation in the PWHL's collective bargaining agreement does not apply.

It's unclear exactly how these rosters were chosen, but they represent national team players on both Canada and the United States, as well as some of the most well-known women's hockey players. It's understandable and sensible that many players who are already familiar to fans of the NHL, like Hilary Knight and Marie-Philip Poulin, would be selected.

Since the PWHL season just began about two weeks ago, it would be understandably difficult to select a team of "all stars" to participate in the NHL's event based on their performance, but it's still a bummer that some of the players who are having great PWHL seasons so far won't be there. New York forward Jessie Eldridge and Montreal forward Maureen Murphy each have five points this season; Grace Zumwinkle had the league's first hat trick and has four goals in as many games, and none of them will be at the showcase.

It also would've been nice to see a better representation of the PWHL's international flavor. Alina Müller (SUI) is the only non-North American player participating in the showcase, but what about Tereza Vanišová (CZE), who is sixth in the league in scoring? Susanna Tapani (FIN), Kateřina Mrázová (CZE), and Theresa Schafzahl (AUS) are also in the top 20 in scoring in the league & have played for their national teams.

Nonetheless, the PWHL 3-on-3 challenge marks the latest in the NHL's inclusion of women in its All-Star Weekend. It's also the first time the NHL has actually partnered with a league; in the past, inclusion has always focused on national teams. This was likely in part due to the NHL's hesitation to get too involved with women's hockey while there were still multiple leagues.

In 2022, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Emily Clark, Rebecca Johnston & Sarah Nurse were selected to represent their national teams at the NHL's skills competition. They participated in one skills event. Jocelyne Lamoureux participated in the "Fountain Faceoff," a special event at the 2022 skills competition, as well as the accuracy shooting event. Manon Rheaume also participated as a goaltender.

2020 featured the closest thing to this year's 3-on-3 challenge – a similar event featuring "elite" women's hockey players representing both Canada and the United States national teams. That event really focused on the national teams and featured several players who will also participate in the 2024 event, including Coyne Schofield, Knight, Carpenter, Stecklein, Nurse, Poulin, Turnbull, Fast, and Desbiens.

Kendall Coyne-Schofield was the first woman to participate in the NHL's skills competition when she was part of the fastest skater competition in 2019. Brianna Decker also demonstrated the "premier passer"event, and her time beat the winning time from Edmonton's Leon Draisatl. Despite her technically winning the event, she was told that she wasn't eligible for the $25,000 prize. Following a social media campaign, CCM paid Decker $25,000.

This year's event feels similar to the 2020 event, with still a clear focus on American and Canadian national team players, but the name recognition that the PWHL can get as a result could help draw more fans and eyes to the young league. Rather than simply advertising these players as representing their countries, they're representing their PWHL teams, who have a full schedule of games and fairly accessible ways to watch those games. It's a good step, and hopefully this can show NHL fans that women's hockey is not just a novelty. While years ago, it felt like the NHL's inclusion of women was like handing us a crumb – the bare minimum – it's starting to feel a little more real, a little more authentic. Let's see what happens next year, when the PWHL will be in its sophomore season and will already be well into the season when January comes around.

Tickets to the showcase are available here for $25 CAD + fees. At this point, it is unclear if the showcase will be broadcast or televised, though Victory Press has asked the PWHL for clarification & will update when info is received.