By: PWHL Minnesota Staff
January 30, 2024
The PWHL’s All-Star Showcase at NHL All-Star Thursday is bringing some of the biggest names in women’s hockey together for a 3-on-3 event that will feature five highly decorated players from PWHL Minnesota.
Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield and alternate captains Lee Stecklein and Kelly Pannek will be joined by teammates Taylor Heise and goaltender Nicole Hensley in Toronto as part of the NHL All-Star Weekend festivities.
Coyne Schofield returns to all-star ice five years removed from her show-stopping performance in the Fastest Skater event at the 2019 NHL All-Star Weekend, where she became the first woman to compete in the skills competition. She finished less than one second behind eventual winner Connor McDavid, with a time of 14.346 seconds to complete the lap.
Coyne Schofield also took part in the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 game as a member of team USA during the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis.
For the veteran forward this year’s event is a special honor because of the relationship with the NHL. “I am honored to represent PWHL Minnesota at the All-Star weekend and showcase the PWHL alongside the NHL’s best,” Coyne Schofield explained.
For Heise, the first overall pick in the inaugural PWHL draft, this showcase is all about celebrating the game— and the fans: “This is an absolutely amazing opportunity and I’m very, very blessed to be a part of it. This showcase will fun because we’re not only playing the game we love, but also get see our amazing fans who’ve been there to support us all season.”
The early support from the fans has certainly caught Coyne Schofield’s attention: “There’s no doubt we have the best fans in the league, they’ve shown up, and I know will continue to show up throughout the season.”
Defender Stecklein, who played alongside Coyne Schofield at the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend, agrees that the support in the stands has been vital to the league’s early success. “Thank you to all of the fans for a great start to our season. I am blown away by the support and I’m excited to keep building on it.”
Pannek, an alternate captain for Minnesota and one of the team’s first three free agent signings—along with Stecklein and Coyne Schofield—believes that one of the most exciting themes of the weekend will be joining forces with the NHL to promote hockey. “It’s always exciting to do anything in partnership with the NHL. I think it’s another great opportunity to showcase our league and the players in it.”
For many of the players, the talent level in the event is as exciting as the game itself. Hensley believes it’s all about showcasing the skill of the PWHL players. “I’m very excited for this opportunity. It is an honor to be on the ice with such a talented group. It’s also a great opportunity to grow the game.”
Fans in Minnesota have developed a strong bond with the players in the first month of the season, just like players have developed bonds with their new teammates—but those bonds will be tested with Stecklein, Coyne Schofield and Pannek on one bench, and Heise and Hensley on the other.
Pannek sees this as an opportunity to stir things up. “Whenever you get to play against your teammates there are extra bragging rights on the table. Maybe we’ll have to put something on the line for the game to spice it up”. Hensley agrees, stating, “it would be fun to come home with some bragging rights.”
Heise on the other hand looks at the showcase as an opportunity to form bonds on the ice with a whole new group of players: “I am very excited to play against current and former teammates, and also play with people I’ve never been able to play with in my career.”
But if anyone believes the players are going to take it easy on each other, look no further than the all-time competitor Kendall Coyne Schofield. When asked if she would take her foot off the gas against her current PWHL teammates, she simply replied: “Everything is a competition.”