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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Champions crowned, $2 million won in National Hockey League All-Star Weekend

Auston Matthews leads team to victory

 

By CAROLYN (CARI) FENN — sports@theaggie.org

Over the weekend of Feb. 1 to 3, the best teams in the National Hockey League (NHL) came together for the 2024 All-Star Weekend Game in Toronto, Canada. Starting in 2025, the NHL is implementing the Four Nations Face-Off Tournament in preparation for their return to Olympic hockey participation in 2026.

To start off this year’s All-Star Weekend, the league held the All-Star Player Draft, presented the Alumni Man of the Year award — a celebration for the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs — and had a three-on-three showcase of the Canadian Tire Professional Women’s Hockey League. While the first day was packed with multiple events, the draft was the biggest of them all with players getting assigned to teams of 11 by star captains and celebrity co-captains. Once drafted, they had little time to prepare before competing in the tournament.

The 2024 All-Star Draft marked the first time since 2015 that captains were able to select the players they wanted, adding incentive for the tournament on Saturday.

This year, the four teams consisted of: Team Matthews with Captains Auston Matthews, Morgan Reilley and Justin Bieber; Team McDavid with Captains Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Will Arnett; Team MacKinnon with Captains Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Tate McRae; and lastly Team Hughes with Captains Quinn Hughes, Jack Hughes and Michael Bublé. 

Following the draft and team formation, players and captains move forward to the All-Stars Skills Competition. Unlike in previous years, where every All-Star player competed in the competition, only 12 All-Star players competed in a series of eight events. During these events, participants aim to earn the most points and receive the $1 million prize. The participants this year were Matthews, Draisaitl, MacKinnon, Makar, Hughes, David Pastrnak, McDavid, Mathew Barzal, Nikita Kucherov, William Nylander, J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson.

Additionally, players had the opportunity to choose from four of the first six events to participate in for the competition. The events consisted of fastest skater, hardest shot, stickhandling, one-timers, passing challenge and accuracy shooting. After each player competes in six events, the four players with the lowest points get eliminated. For this year’s competition, Draisaitl, Hughes, Kucherov and Pastrnak were the first of the All-Star players to be eliminated. 

Following the first elimination, the remaining eight players then moved on to the one-on-one shooting competition against a goalie of their choice. Unfortunately for MacKinnon and Pettersson, the shooting competition marked the end of their time in All-Star Weekend. 

The last and final event of the skills competition was an obstacle course where point totals were doubled. Narrowly winning the last event and taking first place, McDavid came out on top to win the $1 million prize. Despite the tough competition, McDavid earned 25 points by winning his first three events: fastest skater, stick handling and accuracy shooting, then earning 10 points in the obstacle course. While McDavid gave an impressive performance, he also earned zero points in two events, showing just how tough the competition was. 

After the skills competition came the main event: the All-Star Game. The first two matchups were Team MacKinnon versus Team McDavid and Team Hughes versus Team Matthews. With the event being a three-on-three tournament — a style first introduced in the 2016 All-Star Game — it was shaped to be a scorer’s paradise. 

In the first match of the competition, taking place between Team Mackinnon and Team McDavid, the game was close, with both teams putting up a good fight. Ultimately, Team McDavid took the victory with a late comeback and a final score of 4 to 3 over Team MacKinnon. The comeback was achieved through the two last-minute goals scored by Pastrnak and McDavid to send the game to a shootout. 

During the match, players Pastrnak and McDavid assisted on one another’s goals, with Boone Jenner scoring a goal immediately after. Additionally, looking at both goalies for Team McDavid, Connor Hellebuych made 10 saves on 11 shots on goal in the first period. In contrast, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped eight of 10 shots in the second period and both shots in the shootout.

On the other side of the rink, Team MacKinnon had a total of two goals scored by one of the captains themselves. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored one goal, and Sidney Crosby and Cale Makar each had two assists. Looking at the Team MacKinnon goalies, Alexandar Georgiev made nine saves on 10 shots in the first period, while Jeremy Swayman stopped the first eight shots he faced in the second period before allowing two goals on the last three shots he faced. 

The second matchup of the competition between Team Matthews and Team Hughes proved to be just as exhilarating as the last match. With a final score of 6 to 5, Team Matthews became victorious while enduring a shootout against Team Hughes — the winning shot taken by Alex DeBrincats in the shootout granted them the victory. Aside from DeBrincat’s shootout goal, DeBrincat also scored two goals during regular game time. 

Additionally, DeBrincat helped Team Matthews with an assist. Continuing down the line, Flip Forsberg scored two goals along with an assist, Mathew Barzal had three assists and Mitchel Marner scored a goal. Looking at the goalies for Team Mathews, Jake Oettinger stopped eight out of 10 shots in the first period, while Igor Shesterkin stopped seven out of eight in the second period, with no goals allowed in during the shootout. 

For Team Hughes, Frank Vatrano scored two goals and an assist, Quinn Hughes had three assists and Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and an assist. Looking at the goalies, Cam Talbot stopped four out of six shots in the first period, and Thatcher Demko stopped seven out of 10 in the second. 

With Team Matthews and Team McDavid winning their semi-final matchups, they were set to battle for the championship title in the finals. 

During the last game of the tournament, Team Matthews was crowned winner over Team McDavid with a final score of 7 to 4. As Matthews used his home-field advantage as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he and his team secured the win over Team McDavid without having to go into a shootout. Captain Auston Matthews had the most significant impact in the game, scoring two goals and an assist to win him Most Valuable Player of the tournament. 

For Team Matthews, fellow Toronto Maple Leafs Mitchell Marner, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander contributed to the team’s win. Marner scored a goal, while Rielly and Nylander each had an assist. Other skaters who contributed to the victory were Clayton Keller, Mathew Barzal and Alex DeBrincat, who all scored one goal and two assists in the final. Lastly, looking at the goalies’ performances, Igor Shesterkin saved eight out of 11 shots in the first period, while Jake Oettinger saved eight out of nine in the second. 

For Team McDavid, Leon Draisaitl scored one goal and two assists, adding to the goals by Boone Jenner, Tomas Hertl and David Pastrnak. Looking at the goalies for Team McDavid, Sergei Bobrovsky saved 10 out of 13 shots in the first period and Connor Hellebuych saved seven of 10 in the second.

With Team Matthews coming out on top, the team and Celebrity Captain Justin Bieber split the $1 million that went to the winning team.

As the 2024 All-Star weekend came to an end, viewers were ecstatic with Team Matthews’ hometown win and McDavid’s Skills Competition victory. Unfortunately, fans will now have to wait until 2026 for the next All-Star Game and a new set of All-Stars to compete for the title. 

 

Written by: Carolyn (Cari) Fenn — sports@theaggie.org

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