PWHL

Harmon's hat trick highlights PWHL's NHL All-Star Weekend showcase with plenty of skill on display

The PWHL's 3-on-3 showcase, held on opening night of the NHL's all-star weekend, was the latest sign that women's hockey is establishing itself after the first month of the PWHL drew record crowds, popped on TV and featured plenty of tough, competitive action on the ice.

Ottawa defender's goals help power Team King past Team Kloss in 5-3 victory

A female hockey player smiles while skating past her team's bench and touching gloves with teammates in celebration during a game.
Savannah Harmon (15) of PWHL Ottawa is congratulated by her Team King teammates after scoring during a 5-3 win over Team Kloss in the PWHL's 3-on-3 showcase on Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

"Shooooooooot!"

The plea echoed down from the Scotiabank Arena crowd as Team Kloss attempted to make up a two-goal deficit with its net empty in the dying seconds of the PWHL showcase on Thursday in Toronto.

The crowd, with its insistence on putting pucks on net with an extra player on the ice, was reminiscent of Maple Leafs supporters in the mid-2000s, begging the defence duo of Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe to stop passing between each other and just "shooooooooot."

Team King, named after tennis icon Billie Jean King, who is an executive board member of the PWHL, eventually won the game 5-3.

"Definitely one of the most fun games I've been a part of," said PWHL Ottawa's Savannah Harmon, who scored a hat trick in the victory for Team King.

WATCH l Harmon's hat trick leads Team King past Team Kloss:

Harmon pots hat trick, leads Team King to victory at PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase game

3 months ago
Duration 2:08
Savannah Harmon had a hat trick Thursday leading Team King to a 5-3 win over Team Kloss at the PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase game in Toronto.

The game, held on opening night of the NHL's all-star weekend, was the latest sign that women's hockey is establishing itself after the first month of the PWHL drew record crowds, popped on TV and featured plenty of tough, competitive action on the ice.

The 20-minute 3-on-3 showcase felt like an all-star game, in ways both good and bad. The physical play that the PWHL has quickly become known for was non-existent. The skill with all that open ice, on the other hand, was prevalent.

Perhaps the coolest part of all-star games, generally, is getting to see new combinations of standout players take the ice together, in the same jersey.

In this case, Team King trotted out Team Canada captain Marie-Philip Poulin alongside stalwart Americans Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield to open the game. As all three are forwards, coach Cassie Campbell-Pascall's motives could not have been clearer.

"It was good not to have to chase Pou around. Very relieving, to say the least, and it was great to get back out there with Hil," said Coyne Schofield, who was away from the national team for a year. "I realized everyone out there just wants to follow Pou so I can take my time and stay with the puck, so that was awesome."

The lack of competitiveness came as somewhat of a surprise, considering players had said they felt as though they still need to prove themselves.

"We can't take it off, because at the end of the day, people will always have the opinion that if we don't give our best, women's hockey isn't good," Poulin told The Canadian Press earlier this week.

Toronto's Sarah Nurse, playing on Team Kloss, said competitiveness wound up in the eye of the beholder for the game.

"If you talk to Abby Roque, I think she was flying the zone a little more, there was no backcheck from her today. But someone like Kendall Coyne who I think has one switch and so she was 100 miles per hour the entire day, so I thought it was awesome," Nurse said.

Then again, the PWHL showcase wasn't just another all-star game. The players added their own flair, too, like goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens, who sacrificed positioning in order to make heroic saves on multiple occasions — and mostly succeeded, though an early giveaway did lead to a goal for the other team. Desbiens also had her phone out on the bench during the second half of the game, filming from ice level and clearly enjoying the point.

Meanwhile, Team King tossed their gloves on the ice to celebrate Harmon's hat trick — a twist on the usual celebration for the accomplishment.

"That was a cool moment. … I was like I can't believe you guys did that. That was cute," Harmon said.

'It's great to see them take off,' says McDavid

The league is making an impression in the NHL, too. Connor McDavid said PWHL games are often on TV in the Edmonton Oilers' dressing room.

"It's been great to see. Super entertaining, the hockey's been great. It's great to see them take off," he said at media day on Thursday.

McDavid added that he only expects the league's trajectory to move upward from here.

"I think the product is just getting better and better, and I believe that's gonna cause the sport to grow and grow and I think it's a great thing," he said.

Other players said they've been impressed by what they've been able to watch in between their own schedules, even if that's just highlights.

The announced attendance was 16,392, with the loudest moments coming in ovations for Canadian stars Poulin and Nurse, and gasps when Taylor Heise missed three consecutive slot shots for Team Kloss toward the end of the game.

The PWHL now aims to build on this momentum two weeks from now, when Toronto hosts Montreal back at Scotiabank Arena.

Tickets for the game sold out almost immediately today, making for what should be just the latest record-setting crowd for the PWHL as the league truly begins to take shape.

Thursday was just the latest sign that women's pro hockey is simply becoming pro hockey.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

Get up to speed on what's happening in sports. Delivered weekdays.

...

The next issue of The Buzzer will soon be in your inbox.

Discover all CBC newsletters in the Subscription Centre.opens new window

now