Team Dempsey Victorious in NWHL All-Star Game in front of Sold-Out Crowd
By Mike Murphy
The 2020 NWHL All-Star Game was played in front of over 10,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch and a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd at Warrior Ice Arena in Boston, MA. After two thrilling 25-minute periods of four-on-four hockey between Team Dempsey and Team Packer, Team Dempsey prevailed 5-2 thanks to an empty-net goal scored by Lexie Laing.
Team Packer’s Kate Leary got on the board five minutes into the first period when she finished a chance right on top of Lovisa Selander’s crease. Fittingly enough, Leary’s goal was set-up by her Riveters’ teammate Madison Packer. Just a few moments later, another Riveters’ All-Star, Kendall Cornine, rang a shot off the iron that nearly gave Team Packer an early 2-0 lead. Unfortunately for Team Packer, Selander stood tall and stymied the rest of their chances, finishing the first half with just one goal against.
Minnesota Whitecaps’ All-Star Jonna Curtis knotted up the score at 1-1 for Team Dempsey when she carried the puck from behind Amanda Leveille’s net into the slot at the 10:41 mark of the first. Curtis’ goal seemed to spark life in Team Dempsey, as they scored two more goals before intermission.
Nicole Schammel of the Minnesota Whitecaps finished a gorgeous chance on the rush to give Team Dempsey its first lead of the game less than three minutes after Curtis tied the game. Another seven minutes later, Kiira Dosdall-Arena clapped home what proved to be the game-winning goal at the 20:37 mark of the first. Dosdall-Arena's goal was set up by Whale star rookie Emma Vlasic, who finished the game with two helpers for Team Dempsey.
“It was a blast. From the moment we got here to the Skills Challenge last night, it’s been great,” Dosdall-Arena said after the game. “It was fun to score a goal in the game. I don’t get to do that too often and I got to make up for my disappointment in the Hardest Shot event last night! It’s been a lot of fun.”
Mariah Fujimagari replaced Selander in net for Team Dempsey before the start of the second period. Both Fujimiagari and Leveille were flawless through the first 18 minutes of the second. Fujimagari made several big saves for Team Dempsey, including a huge stop on Leary who was inches away from scoring her second goal of the game. At the 18:17 mark, Amanda Boulier got Team Packer back on the board to make it a 3-2 game, but the one-goal deficit proved to be fleeting.
With Boulier in the box for Team Packer, Jillian Dempsey finished a beautiful give-and-go with Emma Vlasic to score on the power play and give her team a 4-2 lead. Shortly thereafter Team Packer pulled Amada Leveille for the extra attacker, which forced Kaleigh Fratkin to make an amazing defensive effort to block a shot fired at her team’s empty net. However, Laing found the puck and went on the attack shortly thereafter to put the game away by a score of 5-2.
After a salute to the sold-out crowd and plenty of handshakes, laughs, and pictures, Marisa Ingemi of the Boston Globe selected Lovisa Selander of Team Dempsey and the Boston Pride as the MVP of the 2020 NWHL All-Star Game.
“I think both of their goalies played well,” Leveille shared after the game. “Lovisa has been a solid goaltender all year and so has [Fujimagari]. There’s a lot of great goaltenders in the NWHL, so it was fun to get to know a few of them a little better. I had never met Lovisa before and I got to talk to her a little bit. She’s very tall and efficient - another award to add to her resume!”
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay