Making history wasn’t on the schedule for the NHL All-Star skills competition, but U.S. Olympic champion Kendall Coyne Schofield put it there emphatically when she competed in the fastest skater contest Friday night.
Asked to fill in for injured Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon, she took her place among the NHL’s best and was serenaded with chants of “USA” at SAP Center.
“It was a no-brainer and a huge honor to be the first woman to compete in the All-Star skills competition. It was surreal,” said Coyne Schofield, who lives in Irvine with her husband, Chargers offensive guard Michael Schofield. “My first impression was I can do this. My speed is definitely my strength. I was a little nervous, but I knew it was a moment that was going to break a lot of barriers and a moment that would change the perception of our sport and show support for our game, so it was so exciting.”
Coyne Schofield finished seventh among eight contestants with a time of 14.346 seconds, ahead of Arizona’s Clayton Keller (14.526). Edmonton’s Connor McDavid won in 13.378 seconds, his third straight victory, and later said he was impressed with Coyne Schofield’s performance. “When she took off I was like, ‘Wow.’ I thought she might have won, the way she was moving,” he said.
Coyne Schofield’s Olympic teammate Hilary Knight demonstrated the accuracy competition before the 2018 All-Star Game and had the third-best score in the event but didn’t compete against NHL players.
Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau won the puck control event, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist won the save streak event by making 12 straight stops (Ducks goalie John Gibson’s best streak was three), Washington defenseman John Carlson had the hardest shot (102.8 mph) and Boston’s David Pastrnak won the accuracy shooting event.