SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The cheers at FLA Live Arena were the loudest when Sarah Nurse of Canada’s women’s team scored during the NHL All-Star skills competition Friday night.
Nurse used a breakaway move made popular by Swedish player Peter Forsberg to fool New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin in a goaltender shooting event, electrifying the crowd.
“One of my friends, we were talking about this event, and they were like, ‘You should try this,”’ Nurse said. She added that it didn’t even cross her mind that she was trying the move against the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.
“I didn’t even think about it until afterwards,” she said with a laugh. “I was just like attack the day. Seize the moment.”
Nurse was joined by fellow Canadian team members Emily Clark and Rebecca Johnston and American players Hilary Knight and Alex Carpenter as female hockey players returned to the ice to participate in several events during skills night.
“The best part of being a part of All-Star weekend is the kind of visibility it gives our sport,” Clark said. “We’re having a lot of fun, but we’re super glad we’re able to represent women’s hockey and to be on the same ice as some of the best men in the world.”
Nurse, who is an Olympic gold medalist, wore custom skates highlighting Black History month and the Black Girl Hockey Club, a nonprofit focused on getting more Black girls and women into the sport.
Women’s players spent the week bringing awareness to the women’s game through different activities, including an esports gaming event, and Knight, an eight-time world champion and 2018 Olympic gold medalist, said they would love to participate in more events in future All-Star skills challenges.
“Whenever there’s an opportunity to integrate both men and women together and have the best players on the ice, you’re gonna see some great skill and outstanding play,” Knight said. “Hopefully the future’s really bright for the sport to combine at these types of events.
The players have been involved in the skills competition since 2019, when Americans Kendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker, in addition to Johnston and Canada’s Renata Fast, made appearances.
Coyne Schofield became the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star skills competition, racing around the rink in 14.346 seconds in the fastest skater competition in a barrier-breaking moment for women’s hockey.
Friday night, players took shots in a new event the NHL called the “Tendy Tandem,” which involved one goaltender from each of the four divisions as the shooting goalie and the other goalie from that division as the in-net goalie.
The tandem of Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets won the challenge for the Central Division.
“I just love that we’re showcasing the fact that there are the best hockey players in the world here,” Nurse said, “Regardless of if they’re male or they’re female.”