Competing for Team Pfalzer at the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game in Buffalo, New York, there was a degree of familiarity for Shiann Darkangelo. Before she made her mark in Connecticut women’s hockey, from helping Hamden’s Quinnipiac Bobcats qualify for the NCAA tournament, and subsequently competing in the Connecticut Whale’s inaugural season, Darkangelo had hockey roots in New York State.
Having spent two seasons with the NCAA’s Syracuse Orange, the Brighton, Michigan raised Darkangelo competed with the program from 2011-13, accumulating a solid 42 points. In her freshman season with the Orange, Darkangelo scored the second hat trick in program history. What made that hat trick unique is that all three goals were scored on the power play, a program first. This career milestone would take place in the CHA playoffs against the Mercyhurst Lakers.
Coincidentally, two members from Mercyhurst were also part of the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game. Shelby Bram skated with Team Knight, while Game MVP Kelley Steadman played alongside Darkangelo on Team Pfalzer’s roster. For her efforts, Darkangelo earned a spot on the CHA All-Tournament Team. During her sophomore season at Syracuse, she would log another hat trick, while contributing to the defeat of state rival Rochester Institute of Technology to qualify for a berth in the CHA postseason championship game.
With a chance to grace the ice at Buffalo’s Harbor Center, the site of the All-Star Game, it represented a heroic return to New York State for Darkangelo. Ranked among the top five scorers on the Whale, Darkangelo impressively logged no penalty minutes through the first dozen games of the season. Selected 18th overall by Emily Pfalzer in the NWHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, Darkangelo found herself the lone representative of the Whale on Team Pfalzer’s roster.
Although five members of the Whale selected to the All-Star Game, Jordan Brickner, Kaleigh Fratkin, Jaimie Leonoff and Kelli Stack went from teammates to rivals, all members of Team Knight. Despite being the lone member of the Whale to hold a spot on Team Pfalzer’s roster, Darkangelo remarked that competing against the four Whale competitors with Team Knight was not an uncomfortable circumstance.
“Honestly, I did not really think about it too much. I knew most of the girls on both teams prior to that weekend so it was more just fun to play with friends and also against them in that type of environment.”
Of note, there was no shortage of familiar faces on Team Pfalzer. Having also played for the US national team, Darkangelo was reunited with several Team USA members including Megan Bozek, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Zoe Hickel and Gigi Marvin. Such a gathering can only help strengthen the chemistry when the US takes to the ice at the upcoming 2016 IIHF Women’s Worlds.
In addition, there was another familiar face that Darkangelo was proud to share this career milestone with. Adding to such a memorable All-Star experience was the inclusion of Morgan Fritz-Ward. One of four players voted into the game by the fans, Fritz-Ward was also her teammate at the NCAA level for two glorious seasons with Quinnipiac. Serving as captain in her senior season, Fritz-Ward is reputed for being a grinder and an excellent shot blocker. Also a friend of Darkangelo’s during her two seasons there, where Darkangelo registered 60 points, the presence of a good friend only enriched the chance to be part of such a watershed moment in league history.
“It was an honor to be able to compete in the first NWHL all-star game, and having Morgan there made it that much better. We were on the same team and were even roommates!”
One of four players to score for Team Pfalzer at the All-Star Game, Darkangelo also became the first player in Connecticut Whale franchise history to log an All-Star goal. The sense of history was one that was strong with Team Pfalzer. Kelley Steadman, who would score the first-ever goal at the event, added another in the second period, capturing Game MVP honors. In addition, Devon Skeats became the first Canadian to score an All-Star goal were also members of the Buffalo Beauts. The other goal was scored by Emily Field.
Among her new teammates with Team Pfalzer, another player also made an impression. While Steadman’s heroics were the highlight of the event, including the first goal scored in NWHL All-Star Game history, the second goal of the game was just as exciting. Scored by Emily Field, whose club team is the Boston Pride, her post-goal celebration became an online viral video.
After scoring on Team Knight’s Jaimie Leonoff, Field and her linemates gathered near the corner. With Field lobbing her glove into the air, upon its landing, all three fell backwards, simulating the effect of passing out after an explosion. Said celebration served as an exceptional highlight for fans and players alike, as Field’s enthusiasm brought about a sense of cheerfulness. For Darkangelo, it served as the aspect that she will remember most about her All-Star experience,
“Definitely the bomb celly started by Fieldsy (laughs). That was too funny to forget!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Twitter