After doing himself and the Carolina Hurricanes proud in Friday night’s skills competition, Sebastian Aho went one better last night as his Metro Division team won the 2019 NHL All-Star Game.
Sebastian Aho’s first NHL All-Star Game – and there promises to be many more – was a memorable and profitable trip for the third-year star from the Carolina Hurricanes. Thanks to the Metropolitan Division’s 10-5 win over the Central Division in the final of the four-team tournament, Aho returns to Raleigh with a lifetime’s worth of memories and an extra $90,000 in his pocket.
Playing on the Metro’s third line, Sebastian Aho scored two goals and added an assist across the two 20-minute contests in what was an excellent end to a very positive weekend for the young Finn.
Aho did show a touch of nerves in the opening game against the Atlantic Division. He committed a bad turnover in the opening minutes that led to a scoring chance for the opposition, but rebounded to score a back-breaking goal that put the Metropolitans ahead 6-4 with 1:52 left, burying a nifty pass from the Flyers’ Claude Giroux. Aho’s goal prompted a glowing tribute from NBC announcer Eddie Olczyk:
“One of the young, great players in the National Hockey League is Sebastian Aho,” said Olczyk. “You talk about an all-around player. The future is going to be very, very bright for that young player.”
The championship game pitted the Central Division against Aho’s Metropolitan side, with a $1m prize pool awaiting the victorious team. The Metros scored three goals in the first four minutes and cruised to victory. Aho had an assist on the team’s fourth goal, suitably scored by the aforementioned Giroux. Aho had actually gone off on a line change before New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri put away a rebound off Seth Jones’ shot.
Aho then had an eventful first shift in the second half. He narrowly missed another goal on a breakaway, then stole the puck from Ryan O’Reilly to thwart a Central threat with eight minutes left. He added his second goal of the day on a breakaway with 4:25 remaining, beating his countryman Pekka Rinne with a shot high to the glove side. It was a great moment for him, and for Canes fans.
Sebastian Aho was, officially, the only Carolina Hurricanes representative in the NHL All-Star game, but familiar faces dotted every roster in the annual four-team scrimmage played Saturday night in San Jose. Each division fielded a team of 11 all-stars—six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. Each game consisted of two 10-minute periods of 3-on-3 hockey.
The opening game had pitted the Central Division All-Stars, led by former Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice, against a Pacific Division team coached by Rod Brind’Amour’s predecessor Bill Peters. Peters’ Pacific squad came out uninspired and fell behind 10-1 before a trio of late goals made the final score 10-4.
The second game featured Aho’s Metropolitan Division All-Stars against an Atlantic Division team that featured former Carolina Hurricanes fan-favorite Jeff Skinner. After Skinner’s nifty goal evened the score at 3-3, the Metros pulled away to advance to the finals with a 7-4 victory, with Aho’s goal dashing any hopes of a comeback.
The Carolina Hurricanes begin their annual five-day vacation on Sunday and don’t return to the ice until next Friday when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at PNC Arena, in the latest of the team’s must-win games in their fight for a first playoff spot in ten years.