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NWHL Skills Heat Up in Steel City

By David Yampolsky, 02/12/17, 10:45AM EST

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PHOTO CRED: Matthew Raney

After the final event, the shootout competition, the 2017 NWHL Skills Showdown was tied at 2. The fans voted Boston blue liner Gigi Marvin’s the best breakaway, sealing the win for Team Kessel.

High energy and competitive performances punctuated the afternoon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex Following a skills clinic held by the players earlier in the day for 50 girls, the top players in women’s hockey were ready to put their own talents to the test.

New York Riveters forward Rebecca Russo’s winning time of 12.75 seconds put Team Kessel up 1-0 after the first event. However if style points were awarded, Buffalo goalie Brianne McLaughlin might have stolen the point. Beating teammate Brittany Ott to the finish line, she demonstrated some sharp moves, flipping backwards to the roar of the crowd.

Captain Kelley Steadman (BUF)  defended her title in the Shooting Accuracy event, going 4-for-4 in 14 seconds for the win.

In the Breakaway Challenge, which allowed players to showcase all the various shootout tricks up their sleeves. Marvin, wowed the crowd and the fans voted on twitter to give her the title.

The Hardest Shot competition also featured Team Kessel’s Megan Bozek (BUF), whose 88 mph slapper won the event last year, and stands as the fastest in NWHL All-Start history. But this year, Boston’s Blake Bolden (Team Steadman), took the title with an 87 mph shot.

The last event of the night was the Shootout Challenge, which provided the opportunity for all players to enjoy the action all at once. Kacey Bellamy and Kelli Stack successfully scored on their opportunities to get the win for Team Kessel.

From the start, the crowd was amped and after the game, players credited the fans for another exciting All-Star event. “All of us are going to say it was an awesome atmosphere,” said Marvin. “I am thankful for the fans that voted me in to play. It’s great that they are supporting us and engaging with what we need to do on the ice.”

Buffalo Beauts’ forward Harrison Browne echoed Marvin’s sentiment.

“It was very fun – walking out, seeing all the people, hearing people cheer for everyone,” said Browne. “There are people that want to watch the game. It shows good promise for women’s hockey moving forward.”

With today’s win, Team Kessel will start tomorrow’s game with a 3-2 score. Puck drop for the sold out game is at 3 p.m. ET. Catch all of the action at www.nwhl.zone/video.