With seven members, including a pair of rookie sensations, from the defending Clarkson Cup champion Calgary Inferno earning nods to the third annual Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) All-Star Game, their presence is poised to provide a plethora of remarkable performances. Hosted at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on February 11, 2017, the third time the venue shall host the event, the Inferno will have all positions covered in such a superlative showcase of talent.
Starting between the pipes with first round pick Emerance Maschmeyer, who also tends net for the Canadian national women’s team, she is joined by fellow rookie, blueliner Katelyn Gosling among a group of eight rookies named to the event. Having both made their Inferno debut on October 8, 2016, which was also opening night, launching the CWHL’s tenth anniversary season, it was a game that saw them both contribute in a winning effort.
Maschmeyer would prevail as the winning goaltender in the match, a shootout against the Brampton Thunder. The following day, Gosling registered her first CWHL point, gaining an assist on a goal scored by Jillian Saulnier. Later in the month, Gosling would score in back-to-back games against the Boston Blades, which included her first CWHL goal.
Of note, Gosling has registered at least one point in seven of the Inferno’s contests during the first half of the campaign. Joining her as the only other Inferno blueliner selected for the event shall be Meaghan Mikkelson, who gained a newfound height of popularity with her appearance on the second season of The Amazing Race Canada.
At the forward position, the Inferno is represented by a remarkable foursome of highly talented forwards. Only the Brampton Thunder feature as many forwards, highlighted by Jess Jones, whose 20 points ranks second in the race for the Angela James Bowl following the first half of the season.
Each one of the Inferno’s four forwards selected for the event, Haley Irwin, team captain Brianne Jenner, former CWHL All-Star Game MVP Rebecca Johnston and Jillian Saulnier, also hold the unique connection of having skated together in a gold medal effort at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Currently, Jenner ranks ninth in league scoring, while Saulnier is twelfth, sandwiched in between rookies (and fellow All-Stars) Michela Cava of Toronto and Sarah Lefort of Montreal. Johnston, who became the first Inferno player to capture the scoring championship back in 2015, is also among the league’s top 20 scorers, trailing Inferno rookie Iya Gavrilova by one spot, who sits eighteenth.
Jenner, who was recognized as the CWHL’s Player of the Month for November is tied with Bailey Bram (who was surprisingly not selected to compete in the event) as the Inferno’s leading scorer. During the first half of the season, Jenner assembled a solid seven game scoring streak, highlighted by a game winning goal against Toronto and a five-point effort (including a hat trick) against Boston on November 27.
Among said forwards, Irwin holds the potential to emerge as one of the All-Star Game’s feel good stories. Having played in the inaugural All-Star Game, she would suffer an injury almost a month afterwards, missing close to two full seasons of play. On October 9, 2106 against Brampton, Irwin’s heroic comeback would result in a two-point effort, including a third period goal, her first goal since January 15, along with a performance consisting of three assists against Boston on November 27. As the 2017 All-Star Game builds on the momentum of her comeback, she will likely be one of the sentimental favorites among the fans.
Starting on January 11, 2017, until February 3, online fan voting on the CWHL’s site shall decide the selection of the two All-Star captains. In All-Star history, only one Inferno player has ever served as team captain. At the inaugural edition of the game, Jessica Campbell served as the captain for Team White, which also resulted in Campbell making history as the first rookie to serve as All-Star captain.