The Canadian Women's Hockey league kicked off it's All-Star Weekend tonight with the Frozen Fantasy Draft in Toronto. CWHL fans selected the two team captains through an online vote: Julie Chu from Les Canadiennes de Montréal, and Natalie Spooner of the Toronto Furies.
Four players from the Boston Blades are among the 34 total participating in the game: goalie Genevieve Lacasse; forward Kristina Brown; and, on defence, Tara Watchorn and Dru Burns.
Team Black captain Chu and Team White captain Spooner selected their starting lines and first goalie by name; and then drew mini-sticks from a bucket to fill out the rest of their teams. Dru Burns was the first Blade to get her name called, selected by Natalie Spooner. Spooner would also end up with Lacasse, and Burns. However Massachusetts native Kristina Brown wound up on Julie Chu's team Black. The four Blades shared a laugh over this turn of events, all looking forward to tomorrow's game.
Speaking before the draft, CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress noted 5,400 tickets have already been sold for tomorrow's game. While the attendance is similar to the prior year's game, tickets were then free. "Our fan's are buying tickets because they enjoy our game." she noted in an upbeat address to the assembled players and media. The CWHL also revealed that this year's Clarkson Cup will take place in Ottawa at the Canadian Tire Centre, home to the Ottawa Senators.
Andress did not opine on the issue of competition with the new NWHL, but Hayley Wickenheiser did not shy away from it. After being selected to join Julie Chu's team, Wickenheiser took the podium and declared "We've got two leagues in women's hockey and we only need one." The audience of CWHL fans applauded loudly.
Tomorrow's All-Star game starts at 1:00 PM EST at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Tickets are still available for $10.00. If you can't attend in person, the game will be broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet starting at 3 PM.
You can follow live updates on Chowdah's Twitter feed.
Here are the full rosters for tomorrow's game:
- Christina Kessler (Toronto, Ont./Toronto Furies)
- Delayne Brian (Winnipeg, Man./Calgary Inferno)
- Michelle Bonello (Mississauga, Ont./Toronto Furies)
- Cathy Chartrand (Nominingue, Que./Les Canadiennes de Montréal)
- Captain Julie Chu (Bridgeport, CT/Les Canadiennes de Montréal)
- Laura Fortino (Hamilton, Ont./Brampton Thunder)
- Laurianne Rougeau (Pte. Claire, Que./Les Canadiennes de Montréal)
- Sena Suzuki (Hokkaido, Japan/Toronto Furies)
- Ann Sophie Bettez (Sept-Iles, Que./Les Canadiennes de Montréal)
- Kristina Brown (North Andover, Mass./Boston Blades)
- Kim Deschennes (St-Quentin, N.B./Les Canadiennes de Montréal)
- Jessica Jones (Demorestville, Ont./Brampton Thunder)
- Elana Lovell (Kamloops, B.C./Calgary Inferno)
- Caroline Ouellette (Montréal, Que./Les Canadiennes de Montréal)
- Marie Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Les Canadiennes de Montréal
- Jillian Saulnier (Halifax, N.S./Calgary Inferno)
- Hayley Wickenheiser (Shaunavon, Sask./Calgary Inferno)
- Charline Labonte (Boisbriand, Que./Les Canadiennes de Montréal)
- Genevieve Lacasse (Kingston, Ont./Boston Blades)
- Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ont./Brampton Thunder)
- Dru Burns (Plano, Texas/Boston Blades)
- Sarah Edney (Mississauga, Ont./Brampton Thunder)
- Jocelyn Larocque (Ste. Anne, Man./Brampton Thunder)
- Jacqui Pierri (Montclair, N.J./Calgary Inferno)
- Tara Watchorn (Newcastle, Ont./Boston Blades)
- Jessica Campbell (Melville, Sask./Calgary Inferno)
- Katia Clement-Heydra (Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que./Les Canadiennes de Montréal)
- Brittany Esposito (Edmonton, Alta./Calgary Inferno)
- Emily Fulton (Stratford, Ont./Toronto Furies)
- Brianne Jenner (Oakville, Ont./Calgary Inferno)
- Jamie-Lee Rattray (Kanata, Ont./Brampton Thunder)
- Captain Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont./Toronto Furies)
- Candice Styles (Orangeville, Ont./Brampton Thunder)
- Kelly Terry (Whitby, Ont./Toronto Furies)