All women crew featuring former Whitby Wildcat on the lines plus Hamilton & Burlington all-stars help PWHL make history

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Published February 2, 2024 at 8:00 am

The result was secondary, with the best women hockey players on the planet facing off on the world stage in the Professional Women’s Hockey League showcase Thursday night in Toronto, part of the NHL all-star weekend festivities.

Hamilton’s Sarah Nurse was there. So was Renata Fast of Burlington; both members of the Toronto team in the fledgling league. History was also being made on the officiating crew – an all women affair with American Hockey League referees Samantha Hiller and Elizabeth Mantha and linespersons Alexandra Clarke and Kirsten Welsh.

Sarah Nurse with Team Canada

Welsh, who hails from Blackstock (just south of Port Perry), is no stranger to history herself, becoming the first woman to officiate an Ontario Hockey League game AND the first to work the lines at an AHL game on the same weekend back in the fall of 2021.

The former Whitby Wildcat and Robert Morris University captain, who was featured in a TSN documentary Breaking Down Barriers in October, has a busy season in what is her third year in the AHL, with 60-plus games on her schedule.

“Such an incredible season working and learning from the best. Feeling so fortunate to be able to tie up the skates and go out every weekend to work this level of hockey,” she said at the end of last season. “I hope that this journey will continue to provide opportunities for women like myself who are passionate about the game and still want to be on the ice. Can’t wait to see what the future will hold.”

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

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Kirsten Welsh making history in the OHL in 2021

For the record, Savannah Harmon had a hat trick and added two assists to lead Team King to a 5-3 win over Fast and Nurse’s Team Kloss on Thursday in the 3-0n-3 PWHL showcase game, with Ella Shelton and Kendall Coyne Schofield also scoring for Team King, which was coached by PWHL special advisor Cassie Campbell-Pascall .

Alex Carpenter, Jocelyne Larocque and Brianne Jenner found the net for Team Kloss, with Fast adding an assist on Jenner’s third period tally. Team Kloss was coached by New Jersey Devils director of player development Meghan Duggan.

Two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist Tessa Virtue (Team King) and WNBA star Jonquel Jones (Team Kloss) served as ‘celebrity’ coaches.

Renata Fast with the now defunct Toronto Furies

The 20-minute game was split into two periods with players from all six PWHL teams in front of a crowd of 16,392 at Scotiabank Arena. The teams were named after PWHL advisory board members Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss.

Team Kloss used a three-goal second period – with Harmon completing her hattrick in the period – to salt the game away.

With files from Canadian Press

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