As the second Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) All-Star Game shall take place on January 23, 2016, the announcement of its participants has only added to the momentum and growing anticipation for the event. Among the players named, Elana Lovell of the Calgary Inferno represents a true feel-good story.
One of 11 forwards making their All-Star Game debut, Lovell is joined by fellow Inferno forwards Brianne Jenner, who has also been bestowed the honor of the Inferno’s team captaincy, Jillian Saulnier and Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Winter Games gold medalist. Another unique fact about Lovell’s All-Star Game nod is that she is the second highest drafted player from the 2015 CWHL Draft Class to be picked (Toronto’s Sena Suzuki was the highest, taken in the eighth round). Having gone in the seventh round, it represents a unique chapter in Lovell’s magical season.
Despite her rookie status, Lovell has played like a seasoned veteran, bringing remarkable playmaking abilities and a sensational scoring touch. While the scoring race has seen familiar names such as Marie-Philip Poulin, Jamie-Lee Rattray and Natalie Spooner, it is Lovell who has taken the league by storm with 19 points setting the standard.
Making her debut on October 24, 2015, Lovell accumulated two points, including the game-winning goal. Accumulating an astounding nine points in her first four CWHL games, Lovell would follow it up with a five-game scoring streak. Starting on November 22, a 3-2 win against the Toronto Furies, said streak would culminate on December 6, with Lovell having registered 10 points.
Among the highlights of her sensational streak, Lovell logged four straight multi-point efforts, including her first career hat trick. A 9-5 victory on December 5 against the Furies saw Lovell achieve the career milestone, which also included the first two power play goals in her career. As a side note, she would log another game-winning tally on November 28, providing Calgary with a 4-3 win against Brampton.
Having added a new dimension to the Calgary Inferno’s offense while climbing atop the CWHL’s scoring race, the Inferno are 7-1-0 when Lovell registers at least one point. Previously, Lovell suited up for the Calgary Dinos program in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) play. The chance to extend her career with the Inferno is an opportunity to spoil Calgary hockey fans, which saw Lovell, contribute to a CIS national championship.
Definitely establishing herself as a solid favorite for the CWHL Rookie of the Year Award, her +12 plus/minus ranking is among the league’s finest. Complemented by a pair of power play goals and a pair of game winning tallies, an even more impressive stat for Lovell is the fact that she has only recorded six penalty minutes, testament to a strong level of discipline.
Upon discovering that she was one of eight Inferno players named to the All-Star Game, initial elements of surprise and humor were replaced by a combination of pride and honor. Considering that said game shall take place at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, home of the NHL’s Maple Leafs, it only adds a major league feeling to such a prestigious event for women’s ice hockey.
“I asked if they had the right number and then I had a good laugh. I am extremely excited and honored at the opportunity to represent the Inferno at the All-Star game. It is not every day you come across an event that will showcase the best players in this league and that I get to attend it with seven of my teammates will surely add to the experience. I definitely had a smile the rest of the day.”
Jubilant over such an announcement, the All-Star Game nod represents recognition over a superlative effort. At the time that players were named, Lovell was not only the leading scorer among rookies in CWHL play; she sat atop the scoring race for the Angela James Bowl.
With her 11 goals ranking second in league play, trailing league leader Natalie Spooner of the Toronto Furies by just one goal, Lovell has helped the Inferno remain in the race for first overall in the CWHL’s regular season standings. Having quietly assembled a solid season, making Lovell one of the league’s lesser known superstars, the All-Star Game is destined to be her coming-out party, introducing her to a legion of growing fans, while providing women’s ice hockey with another exciting event.
”I am looking forward to meeting other players around the league, but the game itself will be the highlight of the weekend. Having all that skill and talent on the ice at the same time will be a lot of fun to see and play with. It will be an exciting weekend that hopefully brings some more exposure for the women’s game.”
Throughout this wonderful hockey journey with the Inferno, Lovell graciously recognizes the efforts of her teammates, acknowledging that such success is the culmination of a team effort. With a focus on the love of the game and the hard work needed to give her team a chance to win, Lovell has certainly earned All-Star status with her teammates, along with Inferno fans, proud to see one of their own make her debut at the 2016 CWHL All-Star Game.
“Every time I am on the ice I want to work hard to put myself in a position that will help the team to be successful. My teammates are great athletes and I think I have taken advantage of my opportunities, just being in the right place at the right time. I am really happy with how things have been going this season and it has been a lot of fun.”
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”