TORONTO — Sarah Nurse didn't even hear her name being announced pre-game Thursday.
It was the deafening crowd with a camera in front of her showing her on the Jumbotron that allowed her to soak in the moment in front of 16,392 at Scotiabank Arena.
Savannah Harmon had a hat trick and two assists in leading Team King to a 5-3 win over Team Kloss in the Professional Women's Hockey League showcase at the NHL all-star weekend.
"I just thought where we were four years ago in 2020 doing this game for the first time and the fact that we're here representing a professional hockey league and the amount of success we've already had and we'll continue to have," said Nurse, who was on Team Kloss.
"It was a huge, huge full circle moment."
Nurse was referring to the 2020 NHL all-star weekend when a 3-on-3 women's game was held between Canadians and Americans. Thursday made it five consecutive NHL all-star weekends where women hockey players have participated.
The Hamilton native found Thursday to be a sign of what's to come for PWHL Toronto's game against Montreal at Scotiabank Arena on Feb. 16.
"It's an all-star night so you never really know how engaged the crowd's going to be but they were absolutely outstanding tonight," Nurse said.
"I heard ticket sales are through the roof for the game on the 16th so it's going to be loud in here, it's going to be rocking. We're going to set Toronto on fire, for sure."
Ella Shelton and Kendall Coyne Schofield added goals for Team King. Anne-Renee Desbiens made eight saves starting the first half, while Aerin Frankel turned away five shots in relief.
"Definitely the funnest games I've been a part of," Harmon said, adding that she couldn't recall the last time she had a hat trick.
Coyne Schofield recounted the days when she placed seventh in the 2019 fastest skater competition at NHL all-star weekend, and each year up to this point.
"We've worked very hard for this platform, there are a lot of people who made today possible," she said, adding it was special to share the moment with her seven-month old son. "Obviously, the support from the NHL was tremendous.
"It just keeps getting better and better every year and I think the platform is incredible."
Alex Carpenter, Jocelyne Larocque and Brianne Jenner replied for Team Kloss. Emerance Maschmeyer stopped six shots starting the opening half, with Nicole Hensley making six saves in relief.
The 20-minute game was split into two periods and held in a 3-on-3 format with players from all six PWHL teams. The teams were named after PWHL advisory board members Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss.
PWHL special adviser Cassie Campbell-Pascall was behind the bench for Team King, with two-time Olympic figure skating gold medallist Tessa Virtue serving as a celebrity coach.
New Jersey Devils director of player development Meghan Duggan coached Team Kloss, with WNBA star Jonquel Jones alongside her as a celebrity coach.
Shelton opened the scoring just 59 seconds into the first period. The PWHL New York defender from Ingersoll, Ont., also scored the league's first-ever goal on Jan. 1 against Toronto.
"It's just super exciting to be here and for that to go in was a great pass from my D partner Savannah Harmon, so can't complain about that, that's for sure," Shelton said.
Carpenter knotted it for Team Kloss just over a minute later, firing the puck home when Desbiens whiffed on a clearing attempt.
Larocque made it 2-1 for Team Kloss 4:26 into the first on a breakaway Carpenter sprung her on.
Harmon tied it up for Team King with 20.6 seconds left in the frame, tapping in a tight-rope pass through traffic from Marie-Philip Poulin.
Harmon netted her second of the game 3:05 into the second, making good on a centring pass from Poulin in the slot.
Harmon completed her hat trick 35 seconds later, with teammates throwing their gloves on the ice in celebration.
Coyne Schofield scored at 6:45 to make it a three-goal game, tipping in a pass from Harmon.
Jenner scored with 1:06 left in the contest after Team Kloss pulled Hensley for an extra attacker.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2024.