Kendall Coyne Schofield became first woman to compete in NHL All-Star Skills Competition

United States' Kendall Coyne skates during the Skills Competition, part of the NHL All-Star weekend, in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

by Scott King

Kendall Coyne Schofield broke a hockey barrier in historic fashion Friday night. The 2018 Olympic gold medalist and Palos Heights native was asked to fill in for Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, who has a bruised foot, in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition’s Fastest Skater challenge.

Coyne, 26, went first, kicking off both the Fastest Skater challenge and the skills competition, sporting her Team USA jersey to “USA, USA” chants from the San Jose crowd.

She clocked a lap at the impressive time of 14.526 seconds. It was the seventh best time out of the eight competitors (seven NHL All-Stars), beating Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller.

“You cherish these moments,” Coyne said. “That’s that I tell kids all the time. When I was putting on my hockey skates when I was three years old, I didn’t think I’d play in two Olympic games, get the education that I received or sitting in front of you here today after being the first woman to compete in an All-Star skills competition. It’s amazing what this game has brought me.”

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid won the competition for a third straight year. “When she took off, I thought she might have won, the way she was moving,” McDavid said.

Kendall plays for the Minnesota Whitecaps of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and is set to face Canada again with Team USA as part of the three-game Rivalry Series Feb. 12-17

Kendall on WGN Radio’s “Blackhawks Crazy” podcast

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