By Dhiren Mahiban – Toronto Star
Jill Saulnier is hoping her hat trick in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League all-star game on Saturday will put her on Hockey Canada’s radar for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Saulnier and Jess Jones had three goals each, helping Team White to a 9-5 victory over Team Blue at the third CWHL all-star game at the Air Canada Centre.
“The thought of making that team is always in our mind, for sure, especially in events like this when you’re playing with all your best friends who you’re also competing with for that team,” Saulnier said. “Obviously everything counts towards getting better and working towards that final goal.”
Rebecca Johnston, Marie-Philip Poulin and Meghan Grieves had the other goals for Team White. Johnston and Poulin each had three assists.
Poulin, who scored the winner in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold-medal games, has seen growth in Saulnier’s game since the two played together on the under-18 team.
“She’s got more confidence, she’s got more poise with the puck and you can see that,” Poulin said. “She gets better as the years go, so I’m excited for her.”
Jenelle Kohanchuk scored twice for Team Blue while Kelly Terry, Brianne Jenner, and Haley Irwin also found the back of the net.
Emerance Maschmeyer started for Team Blue and made 14 saves before being relieved by Erica Howe. Christina Kessler stopped all 18 shots she faced before Charline Labonte took over midway through the second period.
“I think (Kessler) knows all my moves from practice,” joked Team Blue captain Natalie Spooner, a teammate of Kessler’s on the Toronto Furies. “She stood on her head, she was amazing for them that first period and a half.”
With Team White leading 4-2 after 40 minutes, the two teams combined for seven third-period goals.