The start of February brought a very eventful weekend to hockey fans across the country. The annual NHL All-Star Weekend started on February 3rd and ended the evening of the 4th at the FLA Live Arena. A skill set competition was held at the beginning of the weekend with the 3-on-3 game following soon after.
The skill set competition is pretty straight forward. All of the contestants participate in seven different activities throughout the day in hopes to showcase their skills that they have accumulated throughout the years. These categories include: Splash Shot, Pitch ‘n’ Puck, Tendy Tandem, Fastest Skater, Hardest Shot, Breakaway Challenge, and Accuracy Shooting.
The Splash Shot is the newest event, being that it was added this year. The concept of this activity is “with four teams of two players each competing in a single-elimination tournament,” where players are required to hit a target before attempting to dunk their opponent in a dunk tank. Whoever is able to dunk their opponent first, wins. The winners of this competition happened to be the Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar.
Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens won the Pitch ‘n’ Puck, in which six players play a four par golf hole using both pucks and balls. The person who has the lowest score wins the game, and if there was a tie, then the player who had the longest drive would be considered as the winner.
The All-Star goalies took the time to shine in the Tendy Tandem, where each team has a shooting goalie and an in-net goalie. The former takes a shot from a certain spot on the ice; depending on where the puck lands, they could earn three points. Based on how the shooting goalie performs, the in-net goalie faces one to three players on a break. The tandem with the most points takes the winning title for the event. The winners for this category were Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck and Nashville Predators’ Juuse Saros.
With a lap around the rink, competitors go through two rounds to determine who the fastest skater is. The preliminary round leads into who will go into the final. At 13.699 seconds, Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes was crowned the winner. Svenchnikov’s time is only .527 seconds behind Dylan Larkin’s 2016 time, the fastest one considered for this event.
The hardest shot event had Elias Pettersson taking the win after his 103.2 mph shot. Contestants are allowed two attempts to shoot a puck from 30 feet away and are allowed to skate up from the nearest blue line.
In the breakaway challenge, a panel of judges grade the players on one shot from a 1-10 scale. Competitors are allowed to start their routine from anywhere in the neutral zone and may go anywhere in the offensive zone, which includes from the area behind the net. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were both considered winners alongside Ovechkin’s son Sergei, who earned all 10’s.
The final event in the competition was accuracy shooting. Styrofoam targets are an asset for this activity where they are placed in all four corners of the goal. Each competitor stands 25 feet in front of the net and takes passes from two players behind the net in attempts to hit all of the targets. Brock Nelson, a Center for the New York Islanders, won this event, where he beat Nazem Kadri of the Calgary Flames.
To end the All-Star weekend, four teams were matched up in the semifinals where the Central and Pacific divisions were paired, ending with a final score of 6-4 with the Central Division moving on to the finale. As for the second game, the Metro division competed against the Atlantic in which the latter took the win, scoring 10 points to the Metro’s 6.
A 3-on-3 final tournament capped off the event, where the Atlantic division pulled out a two point lead on the Central division, winning with a score of 7-5. The ones who were a part of the Atlantic division include: David Pastrnak, Linus Ullmark, Rasmus Dahlin, Tage Thompson, Dylan Larkin, Aleksander Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk, Nikita Kucherov, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews.
Even though such an exciting weekend has come to an end, fans are happy that there are two months left of the regular season and for the next All-Star weekend to come along. Next year, this action packed event will be hosted at the Scotiabank Arena, home to the Toronto Maple Leafs.