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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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MORE: NHL given deadline on 2022 Olympic hockey participation

NHL given deadline on 2022 Olympic hockey participation

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Olympic hockey officials need to know by late August whether the NHL will participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) president René Fasel said Sunday that his organization needs an answer from the NHL before the last three nations qualify for the Olympic men’s hockey tournament in late August.

All of the world powers have qualified — including the U.S., Canada and Russia — leaving Latvia, Norway and Slovakia to host last-chance qualifying tournaments mostly made up of European nations without any Olympic medal history.

Fasel said the early deadline was set to avoid a repeat of the last Olympic cycle. The NHL announced 10 months before the PyeongChang Winter Games that it would not participate, ending a streak of five straight Olympics with NHL players. Fasel called that timeline “a late no” on Sunday.

The U.S. and Canada, whose past Olympic teams were entirely made up of NHL players, were forced to pluck players from various European leagues and U.S. minor leagues. Russia, then labeled the “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” ended up beating Germany in the Olympic final.

“Especially the North American teams, the U.S. and Canada, they had some problems to find the players and to build up a good team going to the Olympics,” Fasel said. “If there is a no [from the NHL on Olympic participation], these teams should have time to prepare competitive teams to go to the Olympics in 2022.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman repeated in the last two years that he doubts the league takes a midseason break for the 2022 Winter Games, even with a more favorable host market for hockey growth in China than in South Korea in 2018.

The NHL previously asked for concessions (mostly financially driven) from the IOC, IIHF or the NHLPA to entice NHL owners and officials to take a break in its season to accommodate the Olympics.

“There is no news to report,” Bettman said in November after meetings with the IIHF. “I don’t want to sound like a broken record on the subject, but I think going to the Olympics is a challenge for us. I know the players love representing their countries. I know that the players like going. I know that the players that don’t go like having a break in the middle of the season. But from our standpoint, we have found going to the Olympics to be incredibly disruptive to our season.

“For us, at best, it’s a mixed bag. And, again, it has some pretty material downsides in terms of what happens to our season.”

Fasel was, in contrast, optimistic on Sunday.

“I consider Gary as a smart person. He’s smart, and in the end, he will come. I hope so,” Fasel said. “Having the opportunity to present the game of hockey and his brand NHL in front of, first of all, 1.5 billion Chinese, and the rest of Asia, I think as a smart person he should. I know that Gary doesn’t want to say yes because he wants to negotiate. So we will see. It will be a lot of fun in, I would say, the next six months, seven months.”

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