In the middle of a breakthrough season, the third CWHL All-Star Game has served as a coming-out party for high scoring forward Jess Jones. With a record crowd of over 8,000 on-hand for the event, the highest attendance for any CWHL event, it was an opportunity to appreciate the brilliance of this humble superstar. Finishing the regular season tied in the scoring race for the Angela James Bowl, an unprecedented first in league history, Jones has established herself as the centrepiece of the Brampton Thunder offensive attack, keeping the club in the conversation for the coveted Clarkson Cup.
Suiting up for Team White at the All-Star Game, Jones would set the tone early on for her team. Recording the first two goals of the game, on All-World goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer no less, the quick 2-0 lead against Team Blue would prove to be an advantage that would never be relinquished. By the final buzzer, the 9-5 score in favour of Team White was akin to the high scoring affairs typical to the performances of their male counterparts in the NHL All-Star Game.
Of note, it was not just Jones who had the hot hand in this game. Both Jones and fellow Team White skater Jillian Saulnier each recorded hat tricks, becoming the first players in CWHL All-Star Game history to achieve this astonishing feat. Of note, Saulnier would even gain an assists on Jones’ second goal of the game.
“It’s definitely a great achievement. Not what I expected to accomplish that day at all. I was just hoping to keep my undefeated streak at the all star games!”
Technically, it was Jones who would get the hat trick first, scoring her third goal at the 9:04 mark of the third period. Saulnier’s teammate on the Calgary Inferno, Rebecca Johnston had an assists on all three of Jones’ goals. The third goal for Saulnier was scored at 18:52. Not only was it the last of the game, but it also had a dramatic element. With great determination, Saulnier scored a Bobby Orr-esque goal, sliding across the ice, as the puck slid into an open net for the historic marker. As a side note, Amanda Kessel would add to the feeling of achievement in women’s ice hockey the following day, recording the first hat trick in NWHL All-Star history.
Surprisingly, it was neither Jones nor Saulnier who would be credited with the game-winning goal for Team White. That privilege belonged to Marie-Philip Poulin, the MVP of the 2016 CWHL All-Star Game and the co-winner of the 2017 Angela James Bowl. Leading the way with four points (on the strength of three assists), she would score in the third period, providing Team White with a 6-3 advantage over a beleaguered Team Blue. The enthusiastic efforts of Poulin, complemented by the heroics of Jones and Saulnier resulted in a titanic triumvirate of scoring sensations on this classic day in CWHL history.
Coincidentally, Poulin’s game-winning goal was scored against Team Blue backstop Erica Howe, whose club team is the Brampton Thunder. Fittingly, two of Jones’ teammates on the Thunder, Laura Stacey, a first round pick in the 2016 CWHL Draft, and Rebecca Vint (both making their All-Star debuts) earned the assists on Poulin’s game-winning tally. As a side note, Thunder teammate Laura Fortino, who played alongside Jones at the inaugural IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds back in 2008, was also part of Team White.
While the hat trick is destined to be Jones’ lasting legacy in CWHL All-Star lore, there is another achievement that is just as admirable. Jones is part of an exclusive and highly accomplished sorority of elite talent that have participated in the first three CWHL All-Star Games, joining the likes of Rebecca Johnston, Charline Labonte and Natalie Spooner, among others. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she has been part of the winning team all three times.
Although Jones’ focus shifts to bringing an elusive Clarkson Cup championship to Brampton (the only team in the CWHL that has yet to hoist the Cup), her heroics at the All-Star Game are part of a much more engaging story. One that has seen Jones take her place among the game’s elites, truly emerging as more than just a franchise player and a scoring champion, but blossoming into an ambassador for the league. Through it all, Jones has never forgotten why she enjoys the game. In reflecting on what she enjoyed most about this year’s All-Star Game, it is evident that enjoyment and mutual respect are among the core values that have shaped Jess Jones into the superstar and role model that she is today,
“It’s an honour to be recognized among some of the best female players in the world. I loved the atmosphere! Each year it seems to get better and better. I also find it easy and fun to play in these types of games because I’m playing with some of the world’s best.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia Network