NWHL All-Star cap­tain’s hope for fu­ture? Com­bined league

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS -

NASHVILLE, TENN. >> On a day the NWHL wanted to keep the fo­cus on its All-Star cel­e­bra­tions and a record crowd for a pro­fes­sional women’s hockey game in the United States, Lee Steck­lein couldn’t help but look be­yond to what the fu­ture might hold.

It was a vi­sion of one com­bined league, as op­posed to the cur­rent re­al­ity of split­ting the best women in the world be­tween two com­pet­ing North Amer­i­can leagues: The U.S.-based Na­tional Women’s Hockey League and the Cana­dian Women’s Hockey League.

“We have so much tal­ent, I think it’d be re­ally fun if we got to play each other all the time,” Steck­lein said.

The NWHL All-Star game Sun­day fea­tured 11 women who com­peted in the 2018 Win­ter Olympics, in­clud­ing Cana­dian goalie Shan­non Sz­aba­dos who cap­tained the win­ning team. But Marie-Philip Poulin and Hi­lary Knight, who left the NWHL, are among the stars cur­rently play­ing with the CWHL.

Steck­lein and other mem­bers of the U.S. team will see Canada’s best start­ing Tues­day in a three-game “Ri­valry Se­ries” start­ing in Canada, and end­ing in a week in Detroit.

Nantes fans say fi­nal good­bye to Sala on day of mourn­ing

PARIS >> On a day of mourn­ing for Emil­iano Sala, Nantes play­ers walked onto the field dressed all in black with Sala’s name on their backs as the crowd chanted for him over and over again.

“La la la la la la la la, Emil-ia-no,” fans sang, be­fore break­ing out in a minute’s ap­plause. This was ob­served at all sta­di­ums in the top two di­vi­sions in France this week­end in mem­ory of the Ar­gen­tine striker who was killed in a plane crash at the age of 28.

Play­ers from both sides, some with their heads down in pen­sive thought, stood in a cir­cle and ap­plauded at the Stade de la Beau­joire be­fore Sun­day’s game.

Then the chant­ing re­turned, with a dif­fer­ent re­frain.

“Emil­iano Sala, Emil­iano, Emil­iano, Emil­iano Sala,” the 37,000-strong crowd sang with same un­re­lent­ing in­ten­sity Sala showed through­out his ca­reer with Nantes, Caen and Bordeaux — the club he joined nine years ago after leav­ing Ar­gentina to forge a ca­reer in France.

Nimes play­ers wore black arm­bands on their red jer­seys.

The ref­eree stopped the game after nine min­utes — nine be­ing the jersey num­ber worn by Sala — and the fans chanted his name again as they ap­plauded. Nantes has now re­tired the No. 9 as a trib­ute to Sala.

Bor­der col­lie named Verb wins West­min­ster agility con­test

NEW YORK >> The Verb is “win.”

A bor­der col­lie named Verb won the West­min­ster Ken­nel Club’s agility con­test Satur­day night, tear­ing through an ob­sta­cle course like it was a walk in the dog park and leap­ing into owner Perry DeWitt’s arms at the end.

“He is the epit­ome of a good part­ner,” said DeWitt, a pro­fes­sional dog trainer from Wyn­cote, Penn­syl­va­nia. She said she gets ner­vous be­fore they com­pete, but 5-year-old Verb doesn’t.

As Verb came out on top of the pack of 330 ca­nine con­tes­tants, an Aus­tralian cat­tle dog mix called Plop got a spe­cial award for the top mixed-breed dog after turn­ing in a per­for­mance that mixed gusto with speed.

The agility con­test, which ush­ered in the club’s sto­ried an­nual dog show, fea­tured ac­com­plished ca­nine ath­letes as big as a 98-pound Ber­nese moun­tain dog and as small as a Chi­huahua.

MARK HUMPHREY — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Team Sz­aba­dos for­ward Au­dra Richards, cen­ter, is con­grat­u­lated after scor­ing a goal against Team Steck­lein in the NWHL All-Star Hockey Game Sun­day in Nashville, Tenn.

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