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Women’s sports leagues continue to grow, and proof of it came to the Pittsburgh area this past weekend. In Cranberry Township, at the Mario Lemieux Sportsplex, the National Women’s Hockey League hosted their All-Star Game.

There are only four teams in the NWHL, including the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and the New York Riveters. However, the event had faithful fans, with the game being sold out. The day before the game, there was a Skills Showdown, which also brought a hefty sized crowd.

There were two teams- Team Kessel and Team Steady. Team Kessel was led by captain Amanda Kessel, while Kelley Steadman captained her side.

The game was close the entire time, and incredibly high-scoring. The game finished with an 11-10 final score, with Team Kessel lifting the title. However, Team Steady put up a fight, with Steadman scoring a goal with 30 seconds left in the game, and attempted a tying goal.

The game wasn’t like any other All-Star game, as the players did not let up off the gas. They competed- and they competed hard.

“We definitely wanted to come out and play hard, both teams,” Steadman said. “After that first shift, when Duggan put me into the net I thought, ‘Okay, let’s go.’ It was fun and both sides played hard. We wanted to show the crowd what it was like in a real game, which is physical and fast.”

However, the focus was mainly on the event itself, not the players. There has been talk about expansion teams coming into the NWHL, due to only four teams currently being in the league. The event raised conversation about an expansion team in Pittsburgh, due to the hockey popularity in the area.

“There’s such a following here with all the youth programs around the area,” Steadman said. “I’ve said it all along that it’s a great sports city. People are passionate here. Any support we can get is great, and I think moving forward we see how much they support women’s hockey. From the Penguins organization down, everything has been great.”

Talk about expansion teams will continue for the NWHL, but no date has been set for a possible announcement. However, if the All-Star Game event proved anything, it’s that Pittsburgh would welcome their own NWHL team with open arms.

Rachael McKriger, a junior at California University of Pennsylvania, is a contributor to HerCampus. In addition, McKriger is the Editor In Chief of her college newspaper, The California Times. She also serves a sports writer and the News Editor for the paper. At Cal U, McKriger is majoring in English with a concentration in Journalism and minoring in Sociology. Outside of school, McKriger is a sports writer for Pittsburgh Sporting News, Pittsburgh Sports Castle, Real Sports Entertainment Network, and Politically Incorrect Sports Talk (all websites). She covers topics including the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers Basketball, the MLS, the U.S. Men's and Women's National Teams, the NWSL, the NBA, the NFL, and other sports related topics. You can follow her on Twitter, @TheeMcKriger, and find her articles on Facebook by searching "Rachael McKriger: NFL/Soccer." McKriger can also be found on Facebook under McKriger Photography, a photography company she started in March of 2016.
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