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NHL players: Marie-Philip Poulin is world’s best female hockey player

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The U.S. may have the world’s best women’s hockey team, but NHL players believe Canadian Marie-Philip Poulin is the world’s best player.

Poulin received the most votes out of 496 responses in the 2019-20 NHLPA Player Poll, conducted before the season was suspended. The tally:

Poulin: 39.92%
Hilary Knight (USA): 36.29%
Kendall Coyne Schofield (USA): 15.52%
Emily Pfalzer Matheson (USA): 1.41%
Other: 6.85%

Last year, Knight received the highest percentage of votes from 203 NHL players (27.59), edging Poulin (24.14) with Amanda Kessel third (12.81) and Coyne Schofield and Pfalzer Matheson each receiving 5.91 percent.

Why were Poulin and Knight swapped this year? Perhaps Poulin’s Canadian team winning the debut of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition women’s 3-on-3 game on Jan. 24, even though Knight scored and Poulin did not.

Poulin, now 29, scored both goals in the 2010 Olympic final and the game-tying and -winning goals in the 2014 Olympic final. Even before her Olympic debut at age 18, the daughter of Quebec hospital workers was dubbed “the female Sidney Crosby.”

Knight, 30, led last April’s world championship tournament with seven goals as the U.S. won a fifth straight title. Poulin played 4 minutes, 44 seconds, total at the tournament, missing time with a knee injury.

This spring’s tournament, which was to start Tuesday, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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U.S., Canada women’s hockey teams bring vets to 3-on-3 throwdown on NHL All-Star weekend

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While 3-on-3 hockey is an unusual event, the demonstration game on the NHL’s All-Star weekend will have a familiar look to anyone who has seen women’s hockey in the Olympics or world championships.

The U.S. and Canadian women, who have faced off in 18 of the 19 world championship finals to date and five of the six Olympic finals, will bring heavily experienced teams to the 3-on-3 matchup, which will be broadcast live along with the All-Star skills competitions at 8 p.m. ET Jan. 24 on NBCSN.

One woman from each side will also be part of NHL Shooting Stars event, in which players will shoot at targets on the ice from a 30-foot platform behind one goal. The women’s players, who will compete against eight NHL players in this individual event, will be selected by social media vote.

The only players on either roster who were not on their teams’ 2018 Olympic rosters are U.S. players Alex Carpenter and Annie Pankowski. Carpenter played in the 2014 Olympics and on five gold medal-winning world championship teams. Pankowski is the only player without Olympic experience, but she has played in three world championships.

READ: U.S. wins 2018 Olympic gold

Most of the players in the 3-on-3 game have also faced each other in the first two games of a five-game Rivalry Series that started last month and wraps in February. The exceptions are Brianna Decker and Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson, each of whom was a fixture on the roster through the 2010s.

The U.S. won both of last month’s games. On Dec. 14 in Hartford, Conn., Carpenter and Amanda Kessel each had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win, with goaltender Alex Rigsby Cavallini named player of the game. All three players are on the 3-on-3 roster.

Three days later in Moncton, New Brunswick, the U.S. took a 2-1 win, with Kessel picking up an assist on Carpenter’s game-winning goal.

Six college players made their national team debuts in the series’ first two games. Abby Roque scored in each game, and Aerin Frankel won her debut in goal in the close game in Moncton.

The two coaches are also veteran players, each of whom now holds an NHL job. The U.S. coach is Cammi Granato, a mainstay of the U.S. team in the 1990s and early 2000s who has been named as a scout for Seattle’s NHL expansion team. Four-time Olympic champion Jayna Hefford will coach Canada.

Canada was nearly unbeatable in the first 15 years of international competition, losing to the U.S. in the inaugural Olympic final in 1998 but winning every world championship until 2005. Since then, the balance of power has swung to the U.S., which has won eight of the last nine world championships and the 2018 Olympics.

The 3-on-3 game will have two 10-minute periods with a running clock. All penalties will result in a penalty shot, awarded to the player who was fouled.

United States roster

  • D Kacey Bellamy 
  • F Alex Carpenter 
  • F Kendall Coyne Schofield 
  • F Brianna Decker 
  • F Amanda Kessel 
  • F Hilary Knight 
  • F Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson 
  • F Annie Pankowski 
  • G Alex Rigsby Cavallini 
  • D Lee Stecklein 

Coach: Cammi Granato

Canadian roster

  • F Meghan Agosta
  • F Mélodie Daoust
  • G Ann-Renée Desbiens 
  • D Renata Fast
  • D Laura Fortino
  • F Rebecca Johnston
  • F Sarah Nurse
  • F Marie-Philip Poulin 
  • F Natalie Spooner
  • F Blayre Turnbull

Coach: Jayna Hefford

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NHL All-Star Weekend to feature women’s 3-on-3 event

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A person with direct knowledge of the plans confirmed to The Associated Press that women’s national team players representing the United States and Canada will compete in a three-on-three event at the NHL All-Star game in two weeks.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity Monday because the NHL isn’t scheduled to announce its plans until later this week. ESPN.com first reported the news Sunday night.

It’s unclear when the three-on-three scrimmage will be held during the weekend of festivities in St. Louis, Missouri. The all-star game, featuring a series of three-on-three games, will be played Jan. 25, a day after the annual skills competition.

The addition of a women’s three-on-three game is seen as the next step in the league’s bid to promote women’s hockey.

Last year, four women players were invited to take part in all-star game weekend events in San Jose, California.

It was where American forward Kendall Coyne Schofield made headlines by becoming the first woman to participate in the skills competition. Replacing injured Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, Coyne Schofield finished seventh out of eight in the fastest skater competition.

In December 2015, teams representing the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and the U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League played an exhibition game in the lead up to the Winter Classic in Boston.

This year, the three-on-three scrimmage will feature some of the world’s highest-profile players representing their respective countries.

The latest development comes at a time the women’s game is in flux after the six-team CWHL folded last spring, leaving only the five-team NWHL.

The CWHL’s demise eventually led to more than 200 of the world’s top players announcing they wouldn’t play professionally in North America — including the NWHL — this season. They also formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association to push for establishing a single league with a sustainable economic model.

The PWHPA has since launched a series of barnstorming tours around North America, with its most recent stop in Toronto this past weekend. The NWHL is in the middle of its fifth season and featuring teams made up of patchwork rosters.

A large majority — if not all — of the players taking part in the NHL All-Star three-on-three game will be PWHPA members.

The U.S. and Canada are still playing exhibitions and are expected to take part in the world championship in Nova Scotia from March 31-April 10.

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