A last-minute champion

Alexa Andris, Staff Writer

    The SAP Center just became the most recent meeting spot for the best of the best that the NHL has to offer. The 2019 NHL All-Stars Game is a special occasion for both fans and players alike- a weekend full of fun and friendly competition all around.

    The games, hosted at the SAP Center in San Jose, feature a plethora of competitions as well as a game between the four divisions in the NHL.

    Fans from all thirty one NHL teams come to watch, but for the weekend, the majority of the crowd consisted of fans of the hometown team, the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks spotlighted three of their best players: Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, and new addition to the roster as of this season, Erik Karlsson.

    This year, there was a big debut: the first female to ever participate in the All Stars Game, Kendall Coyne of the US Women’s National Hockey Team, competed in the fastest skater competition. With a time of 14.346 seconds, Coyne was just 0.968 seconds shy of defending two-time champion and Edmonton Oiler Connor McDavid.

    Filling in for Colorado Avalanche captain Nathan MacKinnon, who was out with a bruised foot, Coyne still managed to beat Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes with his time of 14.526 seconds.

    “I think it’s a really big moment for women in hockey,” senior Jessica Wandling said. “I was at the skills competition and it was really cool to see Kendall participate and actually be able to keep up with the rest of the guys.”

    Coyne’s teammate on the US Women’s National Hockey Team, Brianna Decker, also participated at the skills competition in the passing competition with a time of 1:06. Although there was some uncertainty with the clock, many seemed to believe that she beat the Premier Passing winner, Edmonton Oiler Leon Draisaitl.

   Both Coyne’s as well as Decker’s participation in the games seem to have been met with enthusiasm around the League. After Coyne finished her lap, players from all teams were seen cheering her on, even record-holder McDavid adding in an off-ice interview with NBCSports how originally he thought that she “might’ve won the way she way moving.”

    The NHL also included professional Canadian players Rebecca Johnston in the puck control alongside teammate Renata Fast in accuracy shooting.

    In an interview with Sportsnet, former Canadian women’s team captain Cassie Campbell-Pascall commented on the women’s performance, saying that they are “skilled, fast, strong and dedicated. For whatever reason, a lot of people were still shocked.”

   A majority of fans have also had positive comments about Coyne’s performance. Even though it was a last-minute decision, it was a big step forward for women’s hockey everywhere.