TORONTO — Jill Saulnier is hoping her hat-trick performance in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League all-star game on Saturday will put her on Hockey Canada’s radar for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Saulnier and Jess Jones had three goals each, helping Team White to a 9-5 victory over Team Blue at the third CWHL all-star game at Air Canada Centre.
"The thought of making that team is always in our mind, for sure, especially in events like this when you’re playing with all your best friends who you’re also competing with for that team," said Saulnier. "Obviously everything counts towards getting better and working towards that final goal."
Rebecca Johnston, Marie-Philip Poulin and Meghan Grieves had the others for Team White. Johnston and Poulin each had three assists.
Poulin, who scored the winner in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold-medal games, has seen growth in Saulnier’s game since the two played together on the under-18 team.
"She’s got more confidence, she’s got more poise with the puck and you can see that," Poulin said. "She gets better as the years go so I’m excited for her."
Jenelle Kohanchuk scored twice for Team Blue while Kelly Terry, Brianne Jenner, and Haley Irwin also found the back of the net. Jamie Lee Rattray had two assists in the loss.
Emerance Maschmeyer started for Team Blue and made 14 saves before being relieved by Erica Howe. Christina Kessler stopped all 18 shots she faced in the first period and a half before Charline Labonte took over midway through the second period.
"I think (Kessler) knows all my moves from practice," joked Team Blue captain Natalie Spooner, a teammate of Kessler’s on the Toronto Furies. "She stood on her head, she was amazing for them that first period and a half."
With Team White leading 4-2 after 40 minutes, the two teams combined for seven third-period goals.
After Kohnanchuk made it a one-goal game at 1:31 of the third. Johnston and Poulin responded for Team White making it a 6-3 game. Irwin pulled Team Blue to within two before Jones poked home a rebound in a scrum at 9:04 of the third to complete the hat trick.
Kohanchuk’s second of the period got Team Blue to within two, but Gieves put the game out of reach giving Team White an 8-5 lead with 2:40 to play. Saulnier completed her hat trick scoring into an empty net with 1:08 remaining.
The floodgates opened in the final five minutes of the second.
Terry finally got Team Blue on the board putting home the rebound off Rattray’s shot at 15:42 of the second.
Saulnier responded for Team White tapping in Poulin feed for her second of the afternoon at 18:21.
Jenner cut Team White’s lead in half for a second time in the period, capitalizing on a turnover in front of the net and beating Labonte with a backhander with 40 seconds remaining in the second.
Team White scored three unanswered goals to lead 3-0 after 20 minutes.
Jones opened the scoring for Team White re-directing a Carlee Campbell shot past Maschmeyer at 5:22 of the first.
Jones netted her second of the game at 12:03 of the opening period picking up a pass from Johnston, cutting across the crease and beating Maschmeyer to give Team White an early 2-0 lead.
Team White took a 3-0 lead at 14:05 of the first as Saulnier beat Maschmeyer with a shot from the side of the net.