Sunday, 22 December 2019

Don't Forget The Women!

Yesterday, I wrote about the "other" men's tournament happening over the holiday season, but there's a third Canadian squad looking for gold over the next two weeks as the Canadian U18 Women's World Championship squad will be headed to Slovakia to defend their gold medal from last year! The Canadian women went to Japan last year in early January looking to capture a gold medal, and they came home with the medal they sought after Maddi Wheeler sniped an overtime goal against the United States to give Canada the 3-2 victory! Wheeler is back on the roster this year as Canada looks to head into Bratislava for another gold medal against the world's best, so let's take a look at the roster and the schedule for this tournament!

Make no mistake that these young women are the best-of-the-best when it comes to Canadian women's hockey under the age of 18. These women will all move to play hockey at the NCAA or U SPORTS level at some point, so it's probably a good idea to get to know them now before their big breaks in the future. From schools like Mercyhurst to Wisconsin to Minnesota to Syracuse, these women are the future of Team Canada at the international level and potentially the next wave of stars at the professional level. Some of them already have a gold medal from last season, and those that don't want to etch their own names into history with a gold medal celebration this season.

Here are the forwards who will defend Canada's gold medal from last season. Number and future school commitment are listed as well. Returning players are asterisked.
  • #6 Grace Nelles - Mercyhurst
  • #7 Maya Labad - Quinnipiac
  • #8 Maddi Wheeler - Wisconsin*
  • #10 Jenna Buglioni - Ohio State
  • #11 Anne Cherkowski - Minnesota*
  • #12 Ann-Frédérik Naud - Boston University
  • #13 Lindsay Bochna - Providence
  • #14 Émilie Lussier - No Commitment
  • #16 Marianne Picard - Wisconsin
  • #17 Sarah Paul - Princeton
  • #20 Sarah Thompson - Syracuse
  • #21 Sarah Wozniewicz - No Commitment
  • #24 Aly McLeod - St. Lawrence
Here are the defenders who will look to keep the gold medal in Canada's hands. Number and future school commitment are listed as well. Returning players are asterisked.
  • #2 Charli Kettyle - New Hampshire
  • #3 Annie King - Dartmouth
  • #4 Kendall Cooper - Quinnipiac*
  • #23 Ashley Messier - Cornell
  • #25 Tamara Giaquinto - Boston University
  • #26 Nicole Gosling - Clarkson*
  • #27 Brianna Legros - New Hampshire
Here are the goaltenders who will guard Canada's nets in their championship defence. Number and future school commitment are listed as well.
  • #1 Ève Gascon - No Commitment
  • #29 Jessie McPherson - Vermont
  • #30 Kayle Osborne - Colgate
As you can see, it's fairly slim-pickings for schools that are perhaps looking to bulk up their recruiting class with some international-calibre players. Only three of Canada's players have not yet committed to a school with Émilie Lussier being the eldest of the three players. I would guess that if Canada has another solid run in this year's U18 Women's World Championship, there will be offers awaiting these players when they return home!

University of Alberta Pandas head coach Howie Draper will be behind the bench for Canada for the second-straight year as he looks to add more hardware to his already-overflowing trophy case back home. He'll be joined by Clarkson's Britni Smith and Boston University's Tara Watchorn as assistant coaches. Smith has a ton of playing and coaching experience at the collegiate, professional, and international levels after starring with St. Lawrence University, the Toronto Furies, and Team Canada before honing her coaching skills at the University of Toronto and Clarkson University. Tara Watchorn also has a ton of experience at the three levels, playing with Boston University during her collegiate days before joining the CWHL's Boston Blades where she won a Clarkson Cup. Watchorn also patrolled the blue line for Team Canada at a number of World Championships and Olympic Games, and began her coaching career at Boston University after retiring from playing.

Canadian goalie Raygan Kirk was named the tournament MVP last year after taking over in Game Two of the tournament and never letting up. She backstopped Canada through to the gold medal, playing four of five games while recording a 2.24 GAA and an .878 save percentage, but it was the medal round where Kirk shone brightest as she helped Canada best Russia 4-3 in overtime before pulling off another overtime gem in the 3-2 win over the Americans. Canada will be looking for more clutch goaltending this year from the combination of Osborne and McPherson as they look to continue the gold streak.

The tournament opens on Boxing Day for the Canadians as they'll open the tournament against Russia at 6:30am ET/5:30am CT. They'll play Finland on December 27 at at 6:30am ET/5:30am CT on December 27, enjoy a day off on Saturday, and close out the round-robin portion of the tournament on Sunday, December 29 against the Americans at - you guessed it! - 6:30am ET/5:30am CT. The quarterfinals take place on December 30, the semifinals happen on January 1, and the tournament's gold medal and bronze medal games happen on January 2 with the gold medal game being played at 2:30pm ET/1:30pm CT!

I'm rooting for the ladies to come back with another gold medal, and I think they have the team to do it based on what I know about a number of these ladies. It's always exciting to see how anxious these women are to represent their country, and I know they're going to make us proud once again! Good luck in Bratislava, Team Canada!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: