Women’s Hockey Notebook: Amanda Kessel returns; Inferno ‘Start the Spark’

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LINE RUSHES

1. Amanda Kessel returns.

Earlier this week, Sean Leahy wrote about the return of Amanda Kessel to the University of Minnesota’s lineup. The women’s hockey world went nuts and rightfully so.

With the boom in women’s pro-hockey, it was incredibly hard to believe that one of the sport’s most dynamic and talented players wasn’t a part of it. Kessel, sister of Phil, suffered a concussion prior to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. While she still played in the tournament, the gold medal match between the United States and Canada would mark the last competitive hockey game Kessel participated in.

That was February 20, 2014. Just two weeks shy of being exactly two years later, Kessel donned the Golden Gopher uniform and took to the ice against North Dakota.

Considering this was her first college hockey game in nearly three years, she had a pretty good night. She picked up 2 assists in the Gophers 3-0 victory. Her first assist in the game came on the power play when Hannah Brandt opened up the scoring:

Brad Frost remained as objective as a head coach can be when reflecting on Kessel’s return in the post-game:

“Obviously a big night for Kessel and for our program and our fans, to have her back in the lineup after a long layoff. Great to see her back to herself, probably not quite in game shape yet, but as you saw tonight, just a difference-maker on the ice, someone that you have to account for. Getting two assists in your first game in close to three years is pretty special. Overall, we’re really happy with the win and looking forward to tomorrow.”

I’ve written about it before: Kessel could have a Connor McDavid-esque effect on the women’s leagues. If she continues to stay healthy and wishes to continue to play outside of the national team. This is her last season of NCAA eligibility and you have to believe both Brenda Andress and Dani Rylan are salivating at the opportunity to get her into one of their leagues.

2. Calgary Inferno’s “Start the Spark” campaign.

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The Calgary Inferno are idle this week, but they showed off their AWESOME new jerseys for their game on February 13. The Inferno logo is given the purple treatment as a part of the “Start the Spark” campaign raising mental health awareness.

Why purple? It was Daron Richarson’s favorite color. In November 2010, the 14-year-old committed suicide. Her parents, Binghamton Senators head coach Luke and his wife Stephanie, created the Do It For Daron campaign to raise money and awareness for mental health issues impacting youth. The purple heart with the letters “DIFD” have become a symbol for the foundation.

The Inferno have put the jerseys up for bid on their website and will be sent to winners following the game next week. The sweaters are not available for sale, but fans can buy ‘Start the Spark’ t-shirts and donate to the foundation. Check out the Inferno website for tons more information on the event and how you can get involved.

While this event may be central to the Inferno, CWHL players across the league have come forward to ‘Start the Spark.’ Take a look:

3. Denna Laing video at All-Star Game 

Just in case you needed a reminder of what true strength and perseverance in the front of seemingly insurmountable odds looks like, watch Denna Laing’s video tribute from the All-Star Game again. And any time you feel the world is too much.

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Keep kicking ass and taking names, Denna. We’re all rooting for you.  

DONATE at DennaLaing.org.

AROUND THE RINKS

Must read story. One high school goaltender breaks all kinds of records making 111 saves in her SIX overtime game. Remarkable.  [Star Tribune]

Hockey Canada can’t ignore Ann-Sophie Bettez any longer. (But the US is okay if they do.) [EOTP]

Jen Scrivens on double duty for New York Riveters. Goaltender, league PR guru, hockey wife, she can do it all! [Sportsnet]

Jamie Lee Rattray’s second season marked by significant improvement for darkhorse Brampton. [Along the Boards]

Historic presence defines Janine Weber’s experience at inaugural NWHL All-Star Game. [Women Talk Sports]

Growing up in Bow, New Hampshire, Desiree Casian was one of the lucky ones to have an Olympic medalist for a mentor. [Concord Monitor]

Kelley Steadman first to repeat as NWHL Player of the Week [ATB]

Montreal’s best hockey team – and why you need to start watching CWHL hockey. [Not Your Average Hockey Blog]

Margot Scharfe could be the depth the Riveters need. [Today’s Slapshot]

Olympians honored by Brampton Thunder. [Brampton Guardian]

Interview with Madison Packer of the New York Riveters: Playoffs, pasta, and grinding it out. [Blueshirt Banter]

Cassie Campbell-Pascall says women’s hockey in Kamloops will benefit from Hockey Day in Canada. [Kamloops This Week]

Recognizing Wisconsin’s most influential female athletes. [Badger Herald]

PODCASTS & VIDEOS

Rink Around the Rosies: Praise for Nana Fujimoto and Bray Ketchum, concerns about zone exits and entries, and obnoxious tangents about colors, fish, and bugs.

Don’t Snow the Goalie: Potential trades, some Amanda Kessel news, and expansion.

VIDEO from Newsday: By day, Kiira Dosdall is a project specialist with Schoology, a learning management system. But on nights and weekends, she’s a member of the New York Riveters of the NWHL.

Finally, Scotiabank, a sponsor of the CWHL, presents Canda’s Fifth Season: the Playoffs. 

BIG SHOW

Saturday 

CWHL

Boston Blades at Toronto Furies – 4:00pm ET

Brampton Thunder at Les Canadiennes de Montreal – 5:30pm ET

NWHL

Boston Pride at New York Riveters – 6:00pm ET (Stream: Cross-Ice Pass)

Sunday

CWHL

Boston Blades at Toronto Furies – 1:00pm ET

Brampton Thunder at Les Canadiennes de Montreal – 1:30pm ET (Stream: CWHL Live $$)

NWHL

Buffalo Beauts at Connecticut Whale – 12:30pm ET (Stream: Cross-Ice Pass)

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