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When it comes to covering women’s ice hockey, Erica L. Ayala has it locked down! She traveled to Toronto to cover the 2019 Canadian Women’s Hockey League All-Star Game. Below is the sister’s dispatch from the all-star weekend. Erica will be rocking the mic at the 2019 National Women’s Hockey League All-Star Game in Nashville next month as part of an all-female broadcast crew. You can follow her at https://ericalayala.com/.

TORONTO – Over 30 of the best and brightest stars of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League competed at Scotiabank Arena Sunday night at the 2019 All-Star Game. Three players of color – Brigette Lacquette, Sarah Nurse, and Jessica Wong – were among the top CWHL stars.

Wong and Team Gold shutdown Nurse, Lacquette and the rest of Team Purple to secure an 8-4 win to cap All-Star Weekend. Canadian Olympian Brianne Jenner tallied three goals to lead all scorers and became the third player to record a hat trick in a CWHL All-Star Game (Jessica Jones and Jillian Saulnier, 2017).

Markham Thunder goaltender Liz Knox and Calgary Inferno defender Brigette Lacquette conduct ceremonial face-off at the 2019 CWHL All-Star Game in Toronto (Photo/Chris Tanouye).

Ahead of All-Star Weekend, Lacquette was voted captain of Team Purple by fans, receiving 55% of the vote. “To see the percentages was kind of crazy to me,” Lacquette told the media Saturday.

The Dauphin, Manitoba native played college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth before being drafted to the Calgary Inferno. She won a Clarkson Cup with the Inferno in her rookie season and returned again to the CWHL Clarkson Cup Final in the 2016-17 season. However, this is her first All-Star appearance in her four-year professional career. Lacquette ranks second among defenders with 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists).

Calgary Inferno defender Brigette Lacquette.

Lacquette was humbled to serve as captain of Team Purple and represent her country and the Indigenous community at center ice Sunday.

“This past year, I’ve been visiting a lot of Indigenous communities and whatnot, sharing my story. I think that helps with [visibility] and shows them they can really achieve anything they set their mind to,” Lacquette shared over the weekend.

Hamilton, Ontario-native Sarah Nurse joined Lacquette on Team Purple for the weekend. Like Brigette, Nurse enjoys being a role model for young players, especially black players. Nurse played NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Wisconsin and was recently named to the WCHA 20th Anniversary Team.

After Wisconsin, Nurse made her first Canadian Olympic team and earned silver at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games. She was pre-drafted to the Toronto Furies for the 2018-19 season and is second in scoring (10 goals, 9 assists) behind veteran Natalie Spooner.

Toronto Furies forward Sarah Nurse, who played for Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Being a member of the Toronto Furies, Nurse and her teammates were very busy promoting the All-Star Game leading up to Sunday. From photo shoots to clinics, and TV appearances, it was a whirlwind.

One day, Nurse hopes to draw the Black Girl Hockey Club north of the border to a Toronto Furies game.

“I follow them on Twitter,” said Nurse of the women’s hockey fan group. “That would be so cool. There are a lot of Canadian cities that have hockey and I think it would be absolutely incredible. I heard they went out to Washington and that actually got a lot of media coverage. It was so cool to hear about that.”

Jessica Wong was drafted as a starting defender by Team Gold captain Liz Knox.  She represented both Canada and China in Toronto on Sunday. Wong grew up in Nova Scotia and played two seasons with the Calgary Inferno upon graduating from Minnesota-Duluth.

The CWHL Purple and Gold All-Star Teams (Photo/Chris Tanouye).

She was retired when she heard about the CWHL expansion to China last season. She dusted off the skates to accept the challenge of growing the women’s game in a place close to her heart. Wong has a grandmother originally from Shenzhen, the city that is home to the Shenzhen KRS (Kunlin Red Stars) Vanke Rays expansion team. She jumped at the opportunity to come out of retirement and connect to her familial roots. Wong is a top-five scorer for Shenzhen with three goals and 11 assists.

Shenzhen KRS Vanke Red Stars defender Jessica Wong.

As part of the weekend, CWHL All-Stars participated in community events at the Ronald McDonald House, MLSE Launchpad, and the Canadian Blood Donation Clinic. Nurse and Furies teammates Renata Fast and Mellisa Channel participated in a special series sponsored by Adidas Canada. The Furies All-Stars hosted clinics, panel discussions and more for two youth teams – the Ancaster Avalanche and Burlington Barracudas. The youth teams were also hooked up with some Adidas gear and the ultimate behind-the-scenes experience at the All-Star Game.

“Yesterday, the Community Day went really well,” commented CWHL Commissioner and recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jayna Hefford Sunday evening. “At the end of the game, seeing the players on the ice, not really wanting to leave the ice, to me that shows that they were having a good time.”

CWHL action resumes as Lacquette and the Calgary Inferno host Wong and the Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays tomorrow at 7:45 pm MST. Next week, Nurse and the Furies return to action in China to take on Shenzhen.

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