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From outdoor rinks to the OWHA, women's hockey has strong roots in Ontario

Tracy Gagnon
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WWC.003.13
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February 04, 2013

Whether you believe the first recorded Canadian women’s hockey game was in Barrie, Ont., or behind Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ont., one way or another, it all began in Ontario.

Two centuries ago in the 1890s, Ontario women were not satisfied to sit placidly on the sidelines. They got into the mix with those early hockey games. And they’ve been raising the bar – actually, more like pushing, the bar – ever since.

Early driving forces behind women’s hockey in Ontario were varsity teams such as the University of Toronto and Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. The popularity of women’s hockey soon became widespread and by the turn of the 20th century, women’s teams were sprouting up all over the country.

As more women took to the ice, players realized that, although long skirts had certain goaltending advantages, they were impractical. In no time, women’s teams started sporting new, more appropriate wear, such as shorter woollen skirts (and then trousers!) with long stockings, toques and gloves.

The Ottawa Alerts were one of the early teams to adopt reasonable, even stylish, hockey wear for women.

But what about safety? Knee pads and heavy gloves soon became the norm. In fact, some women played a leading role in the safety of the game. Long before Jacques Plante popularized the hockey mask, for example, Elizabeth Graham, a goalie for the Queen's University team, wore a fencing mask to protect herself in goal.

With the growing popularity of women’s hockey came the desire for competition. And Ontario was in the forefront again. In 1914, the first provincial championship was held in Picton, Ont., with six teams competing for bragging rights.

Nothing, it seemed, could stop Ontario female teams. And on , several of those teams came together to announce the forming of the Ladies Ontario Hockey Association (LOHA). The newly formed association included the Toronto Hockey League, in addition to London, Ottawa and St. Thomas clubs. The infamous Preston Rivulettes joined the LOHA in 1931.

The Rivulettes. Now they posed a bit of a problem for other women’s teams, simply because they were so good, losing only two games in 350 played. As a result, other women’s teams did not want to join the LOHA because they felt they had no chance of winning. At first, the league rearranged itself to accommodate an A league for teams with a high skill level and a B league for less seasoned teams. In the end, the LOHA was dissolved and amalgamated with the Women’s Amateur Athletic Federation in 1941.

Most unfortunately, something could, and did, stop women’s hockey skates in their tracks: the war years.

The right to play hockey, however, had been a hard-won battle, one women in Ontario and across the country were still fighting. So while many women stopped playing hockey to help with the war effort, a handful of tough-minded players would simply not give it up, keeping the hockey home fires burning.

Players like Hazel McCallion, whose dazzling speed led the three-team Montreal league during the war years. On the east coast, the Gallant sisters were among the ragtag players fostering flagging P.E.I. teams, while in the west, teams like the Moose Jaw Wildcats kept women’s hockey alive.

With every set back, women’s hockey worked harder. They had faced enormous challenges, met each one face on, and swatted them away with one deft swipe of a hockey stick. Even a world war could not extinguish the passionate flame of women’s hockey. Through sheer determination, they’d made it, though beleaguered and bruised, into the 1950s.

But after all they’d been up against, women’s hockey was dealt yet another blow: funding cuts to women’s inter-collegiate sports teams – including the great Canadian game – a training ground for many accomplished Canadian female hockey players.

Lobbied by female survivalists like Cookie Cartwright, a leader in the formation of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA), funding was eventually granted at various universities, which helped the resurgence of women’s hockey across the province.  Soon, teams and leagues sprouted up across the country and the game was on again!

During the 1960s and early 1970s, teams like the Brampton Canadettes, the Kingston Red Barons and the Don Mills Satan’s Angels were making names for themselves.

And with the growing legions of women playing, came competitions, such as the Brampton Canadettes Dominion Ladies Hockey Tournament, the Wallaceburg Lipstick Tournament, Preston Tournament and Picton Tournament. Teams and players from Ontario, other provinces and even the United States came together in hockey rinks throughout the country to share their love of hockey.

As interest in women’s hockey spread again throughout Ontario, it was obvious that an organizing body was needed and in 1975, the Ontario Women's Hockey Association was formed. The OWHA is the governing body of female hockey in Ontario and promotes, provides and develops opportunities for girls and women of all abilities to play female hockey in Ontario.

While a new association did not translate immediately into more women’s hockey teams, financial support for those teams or even convenient ice time, it did provide female hockey players with a common voice.

For example, that voice, the OWHA, lobbied for and hosted the first national women’s championship in Brantford in 1982 and secured its first title sponsor – Shopper’s Drug Mart. This work by the OWHA was also critical in the formation of a national female hockey council that same year.

Following the success of the creation of a national women’s championship, the OWHA continued to follow its vision to have the game recognized at the international level with a world championship and Olympic participation.

Denied the right to host a world championship, the OWHA persevered and hosted the first Women’s World Hockey Tournament in North York and Mississauga, Ont., in 1987. Teams from Holland, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland  the United States – and of course host country Canada – participated in the exciting event. Delegates from Australia, China, Great Britain, Norway and West Germany also attended.  

This international tournament was the turning point for female hockey, as it was immediately followed by a European championship in West Germany in 1989 and a full world championship in 1990 in Ottawa, which hosts the official IIHF event for a second time this year in April. The lobby for inclusion into the Winter Olympic Games became a reality in Nagano, Japan in 1998, when Canada’s National Women’s Team won a silver medal. Since then, the red and white have won three gold medals at the Olympic Winter Games, including most recently at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.

Through intense competition on the ice and tireless cooperation off the ice, women’s hockey had achieved the impossible dream. It had shown the world the amazing victories that can be accomplished through international unity. Young girls throughout the world enrolled in hockey, as they had exceptional role models to follow.

While women across Canada can take pride in helping to make the female game  popular around the world, Ontario and the OWHA have a special place of honour. They gave birth to women’s hockey and kept it breathing when it wasn’t fairing very well. Keep pushing the bar, girls!

For sources used in this story, please CLICK HERE.

Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. United States

Sunday, April 14 | 5 p.m. ET | Utica, New York | Gold Medal Game

Jason La Rose, Shannon Coulter
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April 14, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. UNITED STATES (APRIL 14)

Here we go. Canada’s National Women's Team is one win away from a record-extending 13th gold medal at the IIHF Women’s World Championship, taking on the host Americans in the gold medal game Sunday night.

Last Game

Canada took care of business in the semifinals, shutting out Czechia 4-0 to advance to the gold medal game. Laura Stacey set up first-period goals for Blayre Turnbull and Jocelyne Larocque. Emily Clark and Sarah Fillier rounded out the scoring for the Canadians. Ann-Renée Desbiens made nine saves while Canada put 47 shots on Czechia’s Klara Peslarova.

The United States come into the gold medal game undefeated, earning a 5-0 shutout of Finland in the semifinals. University of Wisconsin forward Laila Edwards recorded a hat trick, with Hannah Bilka and Savannah Harmon finding the back of the net as well. Finland’s Sanni Ahola made 50 saves, while Aerin Frankel stopped 15 shots for the semifinal win.

Last Meeting 

The North American rivals played arguably the best game of the preliminary round last Monday, with the Canadians dropping a narrow 1-0 decision in overtime. Ann-Renée Desbiens was absolutely sensational, finishing with 29 saves, but Canada couldn’t solve Frankel. It marked just the third time in 184 all-time meetings that Canada and the U.S. went 60 minutes goalless – the other two were both in Women’s Worlds gold medal games, in 2005 and 2016.

What to Watch 

While names like Poulin, Nurse, Spooner and Fast get the headlines, Jocelyne Larocque continues to just go about her business quietly and effectively. Set to play in her 10th Women’s Worlds gold medal game, the Ste. Anne, Manitoba, product – who cracked list of top-10 oldest players to represent Canada at the tournament (she was 35 years, 10 months, 17 days for the prelim opener) – leads the Canadian contingent in time on ice (22:21 per game) and tops the tournament with a plus/minus of +15. She’s also chipped in with a goal and four assists in six games.

In order for Canada to have success today, they will need to find a way past Frankel. She has had a record-breaking tournament for the United States, allowing only three goals in five games, with a 0.59 goals-against average and a 0.962 saves percentage. With her semifinal shutout, the 24-year-old set the record for the most shutouts at a single Women’s Worlds with four.

A Look Back 

This will be the 22nd time Canada and the U.S. have met for gold at Women’s Worlds, with Canada holding a 12-9 edge in the first 21. Nor surprisingly, these two teams always seem to play a close game with a world title on the line.

Prior to last year’s 6-3 win for the Americans – which was a tie game with less than four minutes to go – seven of the previous eight gold medal games were one-goal contests, and the only outlier, in 2015, was a two-goal game. Those eight games included five that needed overtime – in 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017 and 2021.

All-time record: Canada leads 104-79-1 (23-20 in OT/SO)
Canada goals: 508 
United States goals: 445

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Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Czechia

Saturday, April 13 | 7 p.m. ET | Utica, New York | Semifinal

Nicholas Pescod
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April 12, 2024

Canada’s National Women's Team is into the final four at the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship, taking on Czechia in a Saturday night semifinal in Utica with a place in the gold medal game on the line.

Last Game

Canada booked its spot in the semifinals after downing Sweden 5-1 in its Thursday quarterfinal. Renata Fast scored twice, opening the scoring in the first period and adding insurance in the second, while Laura Stacey, Natalie Spooner and Jaime Bourbonnais rounded out the scoring for the Canadians. Jocelyne Larocque joined Fast as multi-point scorers, picking up a pair of assists, while Emerance Maschmeyer turned aside 17 of the 18 shots she faced.

Czechia secured its spot in the semifinals thanks to Daniela Pejsova, who got a point shot through traffic for the game’s only goal with 7:06 left to give the Czechs a 1-0 win over Germany. Klara Peslarova stopped all 24 shots the Germans threw her way for her second shutout of the tournament.

Last Meeting 

In preliminary-round play last Sunday, Kristin O’Neill scored two goals and provided an assist, Sarah Nurse contributed with two helpers and Ann-Renée Desbiens made 13 saves for the shutout as Canada blanked the Czechs 5-0.

What to Watch 

While Canada’s goaltending has been the focus, and rightfully so with Desbiens and Maschmeyer combining for a .973 save percentage through five games, let’s turn our attention to the bottom of the Canadian forward group. While the top unit has scored just twice (one of them an empty-netter), the fourth line of O’Neill between Danielle Serdachny and Julia Gosling has been terrific (O’Neill leads Canada in scoring), and the trio of Stacey, Blayre Turnbull and Emily Clark contributed the game-winning goal in the quarterfinals. Don’t sleep on the big guns, though; last year in the semifinals, Sarah Fillier potted a hat trick in a win over Switzerland.

Natálie Mlýnková is tearing it up for the Czechs. The 22-year-old is tied for second in goals with four and tied for second in points with six, and is the top scorer in the tournament not wearing the red, white and blue of the United States. For the trivia buffs, three Czechs — Anezka Cabelova, Tereza Plosova, and Adela Sapovalivova — can make history by winning a medal in Utica; they would join Marie-Philip Poulin (Canada, 2009), Susanna Tapani (Finland, 2011), and Nelli Laitnen and Viivi Vainikka (Finland, 2019) as the only players to win a medal at the IIHF U18 Women's World Championship and IIHF Women's World Championship in the same season.

A Look Back 

History is very, very recent between these two teams. They’ve only met twice – last year in Brampton and last weekend in Utica.

All-time record: Canada leads 2-0-0
Canada goals: 10 
Czechia goals: 1 

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Clarke continues to climb the ranks

From small-town Drake to the Olympic Winter Games, Alex Clarke has broken barriers and inspired young officials on what has been a unique hockey journey

Jonathan Yue
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April 08, 2024

If it wasn’t for a disgruntled cow, Alex Clarke might not have become one of the best and most respected officials in the world.

It was the spring of 2015 and Clarke (then going by her maiden name, Alex Blair) had just been drafted 53rd overall by the Calgary Inferno of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League when was she kicked by a cow on her family farm, resulting in a lingering knee injury.

"I wasn't able to properly train throughout the summer. So, the decision was kind of made for me not to go to [Inferno training] camp and try out that fall,” recalls Clarke, who played three seasons with the Weyburn Gold Wings of the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League (SFU18AAAHL) before playing NCAA Division III hockey at the College of St. Scholastica in Minnesota.

But when the door on Clarke's playing career closed, another opened.

"I knew I wanted to stay involved in hockey," she recalls. "I had previously thought that maybe coaching was a good avenue for me, but at the time I was 22 years old and my personality just doesn't fit well with standing on a bench and being tied to a team schedule. So, I ended up pursuing officiating instead."

Since then, Clarke has skyrocketed through the officiating ranks. A native of Drake, Saskatchewan (population 197), she has worked in her home province in the SFU18AAAHL and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), nationally at the Esso Cup and internationally at the IIHF Women's World Championship.

In 2021 she became the first woman to officiate in the Western Hockey League (she also was the first woman to work a WHL game as a referee earlier this season) and on Dec. 5, 2021 she became the first woman to work a game in the American Hockey League.

“My love for the game is what inspires me to get out there,” Clarke says about being an official. “It's a place where I get to go and forget about everything else that’s going on. I get to have fun. I get to be with friends.

“Since I've had success, and I've been a little bit more recognized, it means a lot more to me to go out there and know that I'm somebody that people see as a trailblazer as the only female in certain leagues.”

The past few years in particular have been quiet the ride for Clarke, who reached the pinnacle of international hockey when she worked as a linesperson at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, and earlier this year she began calling games in the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL). Most recently, she officiated the PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase during the NHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

“It’s felt natural,” Clarke says of her progression as an official. “Aside from the 2021-22 season where I jumped around lot of leagues at the same time, its very similar to being a player. Being scouted [and] evaluated, and when I was ready to be put into the next level, I was ready and determined to be capable. I’ve had a lot of good experiences and never felt like I was over my head.”

Inspiring the next generation

While her pathway to becoming an official was a certainly unique, Clarke says she wouldn’t have chosen any other scenario.

“[When I was looking into getting into officiating,]Hockey Saskatchewan was really good,” Clarke recalls. “They welcomed me with open arms. After knowing my hockey background, they invited me to a referee camp and when I arrived, they were so welcoming and immediately felt like part of the family.”

As an official, Clarke hopes to show that there are many pathways to being involved in hockey and she hopes to have the opportunity to mentor more young officials.

“Anybody that’s looking to get into officiating, I would say go into it with open eyes and an open perspective,” Clarke says. “I went in for the love of the game and the desire to improve and take feedback, and it’s probably going to take you places that you probably didn’t expect.”

With the growth of women’s hockey over the last few years, Clarke has realized the importance of being a role model on the ice, even as an official. Clarke believes the added spotlight on women’s hockey thanks to the PWHL is making a huge difference.

“I have a four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and she’s really starting to be impressionable,” says Clarke, who also has a young son. “This season, I brought the family with me to the NHL All-Star Game, and to see her reaction and having her talk about Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse, she wants to be around hockey. She has so much more interest and investment in it because she’s seeing other women as great examples.

“I think it just resonates with a lot of people and little girls and boys are now able to see women and moms and full-grown adults out on the ice and in the arenas, you just get a sense of equality for everybody to achieve those goals.”



As more and more leagues, such as the AHL, include women officials, Clarke hopes to continue the push for women to take the next step. With her experience at NHL All-Star Weekend, Clarke believes we could be seeing women referees in NHL games soon.

“Getting a female into the NHL, it may be two years away, it may be 10 years away, but if I can help play a role in getting a female there, whether that’s me or somebody I can mentor and develop and inspire to take that next step, I think that’s helping progress female officials as a whole, I’m looking to have an impact on the next generation.”

Aside from that, Clarke’s long-term goal is to be at the 2026 Olympic Games in Milan, Italy. But for now, her eyes are set on the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Utica, New York.

“I want to earn a spot to be in the gold medal game,” Clarke says. “We as officials are competing out there and we want to earn that gold medal spot too. Ultimately, I want to have fun and better myself and the people around me.”

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Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. United States

Monday, April 8 | 7 p.m. ET | Utica, New York | Preliminary Round

Nicholas Pescod
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April 07, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. UNITED STATES (APRIL 8)

Canada’s National Women's Team faces a familiar foe as the preliminary round comes to a close at the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship, taking on its neighbours to the south in a battle of unbeatens with first place in Group A on the line.

Last Game

Canada made made it back-to-back-back wins and back-to-back shutouts Sunday, blanking Czechia 5-0. Kristin O'Neill led the way with three points, scoring twice and adding an assist in the first period, Danielle Serdachny, Renata Fast and Laura Stacey also scored, and Ann-Renée Desbiens stopped all 13 shots she faced as Canada outshot the Czechs 42-13.

The United States outlasted Finland 5-3 on Saturday night for its third-consecutive win in the preliminary round. Kendall Coyne Schofield, who scored twice, Abbey Murphy, Hilary Knight and Taylor Heise powered the Americans to victory.

Last Meeting 

For the second year in a row, Canada pulled off a reverse sweep over the United States, downing it 6-1 in Game 7 of the Rivalry Series in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Feb. 11. Natalie Spooner and Emma Maltais each found the back of the net twice, while Marie-Philip Poulin and Ashton Bell also scored. Desbiens was excellent, stopping 24 of 25 to record the victory.

What to Watch 

Although it has been quiet through two games, Canada’s top line of Sarah Filler, Marie-Philip Poulin and Brianne Jenner have been very good against the Americans over the years. The trio have a combined 132 points (69-63—132) in 197 games all-time against the U.S., and Jenner had two goals the last time the rivals met at Women’s Worlds. Oh, and for those keeping track, Jenner is just two goals away from 50 with Canada’s National Women’s Team, which would make her just the 13th to reach that milestone.

The Americans are leaning on their big guns, with Coyne Schofield, Knight, Alex Carpenter and Caroline Harvey ranking in the top six in tournament scoring, with Coyne Schofield – who missed last year’s Women’s Worlds before giving birth to son Drew in July – leading the way with six points (3-3—6). Knight, of course, is the leading scorer in the history of the IIHF Women’s World Championship, with the five points she has accumulated through three games giving her 106 (63-43—106) in her storied career.

A Look Back 

Canada owns a 5-3-1 record against the United States in New York. The last time these two teams did battle in the Empire State was in the preliminary round at the 2013 4 Nations Cup in Lake Placid. Canada won that one 4-2 thanks to goals from Jenner, Spooner, Haley Irwin and Mélodie Daoust.

All-time record: Canada leads 104-78-1 (23-19 in OT/SO)
Canada goals: 508
United States goals: 444

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Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Czechia

Sunday, April 7 | 3 p.m. ET | Utica, New York | Preliminary Round

Nicholas Pescod
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April 06, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. CZECHIA (APRIL 7) 

Canada’s National Women's Team looks to make it three in a row in prelim play when it takes on Czechia at the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship on Sunday afternoon.

Last Game 

Canada made it back-to-back wins with a 3-0 shutout victory over Switzerland on Friday. Emma Maltais got Canada on the board just 70 seconds after the puck dropped, Sarah Nurse scored less than seven minutes later and Sarah Filler added an empty-netter late in the third period. Emerance Maschmeyer was terrific in a 17-save effort, posting her sixth career shutout in just 13 starts at Women’s Worlds.

The Czechs found themselves on the wrong end of a 6-0 result against the United States on Friday. Klara Peslarova stayed busy between the pipes, making double-digit saves in every period and finishing with 42 stops. Czechia had five power plays in the first 25 minutes but couldn’t find the back of the net, and no skater registered more than two shots.

Last Meeting 

It was exactly one year ago to the day that the Canadians and Czechs clashed for the first time, meeting in the preliminary round at Women’s Worlds in Brampton. Marie-Philip Poulin scored pair of goals, including the 100th of her decorated international career, Blayre Turnbull added a goal and three assists, and Brianne Jenner and Jocelyne Larocque had two helpers each as part of a 5-1 win for Canada.

What to Watch 

How about the trio of Maltais, Nurse and Natalie Spooner? All three found the scoresheet against the Swiss – Maltais and Nurse with goals, Spooner with an assist – and Maltais has tallied the game-winner in both games in Utica. Add in the pre-tournament win over Finland in Kingston (Maltais and Nurse had a goal and an assist each, and Spooner added a helper) and the PWHL Toronto teammates have been driving the offence for Canada.

Seventeen-year-old Adela Sapovaliova is the one to watch on the ice, but we’ll turn our attention behind the bench. The Czechs have won 11 of 16 games and a pair of bronze medals since Carla MacLeod took over as head coach prior to the 2022 Women’s Worlds, with all five defeats coming at the hands of Canada and the U.S. The PWHL Ottawa bench boss is no stranger to international hockey; she won two Olympic gold medals (2006, 2010) and a world title (2007) with Canada’s National Women’s Team, and was MVP of the 2009 Women’s Worlds.

A Look Back 

Not much history to talk about here; as mentioned above, the meeting last year in Brampton was their first.

All-time record: Canada leads 1-0-0
Canada goals: 5 
Czechia goals: 1 

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Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Switzerland

Friday, April 5 | 3 p.m. ET | Utica, New York | Preliminary Round

Nicholas Pescod
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April 05, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. SWITZERLAND (APRIL 5) 

It’s a very quick turnaround for Canada’s National Women's Team, which resumes preliminary-round play Friday when it takes on Switzerland at the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship, less than 18 hours after closing out its tournament opener.

Last Game 

Canada opened the prelims on a historic note, picking up its 100th Women’s Worlds win by downing Finland 4-1 on Thursday night. Ella Shelton had a goal and two assists, Julia Gosling scored in her world championship debut and Ann-Renée Desbiens was terrific in a 32-save performance.

The Swiss started with a 4-0 loss to the host Americans on Wednesday. Andrea Brändli was busy between the pipes, finishing with 51 saves, but Switzerland could manage just 11 shots on the U.S. goal, with a team-high three coming from 18-year-old Ivana Wey in her first Women’s Worlds game.

Last Meeting 

Canada and Switzerland last faced off in the semifinals at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Brampton. Sarah Fillier scored a hat trick, Natalie Spooner set up three goals, and Jamie Lee Rattray and Rebecca Johnston added a goal each as the Canadians booked their place in the gold medal game with a 5-1 victory.

What to Watch 

Two words. Sarah Fillier. She may have been held off the scoresheet against the Finns, but the Georgetown, Ontario, product has been historically good against the Swiss. In eight career games, Fillier has recorded 15 points (9-6—15), including four goals and a helper in two meetings a year ago in Brampton. Of course, she has been pretty darn good against anybody at Women’s Worlds, putting up 28 points (15-13—28) in 22 games on the international stage.

For the Swiss, it has to be Alina Müller. The lone PWHL player on the Swiss roster, Müller – the No. 3 pick in the inaugural PWHL Draft – is having a great season for Boston, putting up a team-leading 13 points (3-10—13) in 19 games. She’s also been pretty good internationally, recording four goals and 10 points in seven games a year ago in Brampton – including the lone goal for Switzerland in its semifinal loss to Canada – and posting the same stat line at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

A Look Back 

Canada hasn’t played the Swiss often in the grand scheme, facing off just 19 times since 1997, but they’ve been frequent foes lately, facing off in the prelims and semifinals at each of the last three Women’s Worlds, and in Beijing.

Prior to their final-four face-off in Brampton, the Canadians and Swiss met in the prelim opener for both; in that one, Spooner and Sarah Nurse led the way with a goal and an assist each, and Desbiens posted a 12-save shutout in a 4-0 win for Canada.

All-time record: Canada leads 19-0-0
Canada goals: 152 
Switzerland goals: 9 

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Canada vs. Finland

Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Finland

Thursday, April 4 | 7 p.m. ET | Utica, New York | Preliminary Round

Nicholas Pescod
|
April 04, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. FINLAND (APRIL 4) 

Let the games begin! Canada’s National Women's Team kicks off preliminary round play Thursday at the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship, facing off against Finland at the Adirondack Bank Center. 

Last Meeting 

Canada earned an 8-2 pre-tournament victory over Finland last Saturday in Kingston, Ontario, scoring the game’s final seven goals to erase a second-period deficit. In all, seven different skaters found the back of the net, led by Blayre Turnbull, who scored twice and added an assist in the exhibition win. 

Last Game 

We already talked about the last game, so how about the one before that? Canada scored a 6-1 victory over the United States in Game 7 of the Rivalry Series on Feb. 11 to complete the reverse sweep for the second year in a row in St. Paul, Minnesota. Natalie Spooner and Emma Maltais finished with two goals and an assist each for the Canadians, while Ann-Renée Desbiens made 24 saves.

Finland fell 4-0 to Czechia in its preliminary-round opener on Wednesday. Sanni Ahola stopped 29 of the 31 shots she faced — the Czechs had two empty-netters — in what was the first penalty-free game in Women's Worlds history. Noora Tulus led the way with four shots on goal for the Finns, who were outshot 33-21.

What to Watch 

With an average age of 28 years, two months and 20 days, Canada is icing its oldest roster ever at Women’s Worlds, with captain Marie-Philip Poulin back for her 12th appearance, veteran defender Jocelyne Larocque set for her 11th, and Spooner and Brianne Jenner both ready for their 10th. But head coach Troy Ryan has a few young guns at his disposal, including Sarah Fillier and Danielle Serdachny, both of whom were top-10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best player in NCAA women’s hockey, and cousins Julia and Nicole Gosling, who both registered their first Team Canada goals in the exhibition win Saturday.

Jenni Hiirikoski is returning for a record 16th Women's Worlds. The Finnish captain – seven times the Top Defender at the tournament – continues to be a big part of Finland's success on the international stage — she finished tied for fifth in scoring (3-8—11) a year ago in Brampton, second among all blue-liners. Petra Nieminen is also back following her stand-out performance last spring when she finished second in tournament scoring (6-7—13). The 24-year-old was red hot this year with Luleå HF in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League, leading the league with 24 goals and sitting fourth with 45 points in 33 regular-season games. 

A Look Back 

Canada may have the upper hand all-time, having lost just twice and tying once in 89 meetings, but the Finns are no pushover. 

These two teams have faced each other six previous times in the Empire State, the most recent coming in the 2013 4 Nations Cup gold medal game in Lake Placid, when Canada downed the Finns 6-3 to capture its 13th tournament title. Vicki Bendus had a goal and two assists, Jenelle Kohanchuk scored twice, and Jenner, Jennifer Wakefield and Haley Irwin were the other Canadian goal-scorers. 

All-time record: Canada leads 86-2-1 
Canada goals: 460 
Finland goals: 114 

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Canada vs. Finland

Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Finland

Saturday, March 30 | 3 p.m. ET | Kingston, Ontario | Pre-Tournament

Shannon Coulter
|
March 30, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. FINLAND (MARCH 30)

Ahead of the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Utica, New York, Canada’s National Women's Team faces off against Finland in a pre-tournament tune-up Saturday at Slush Puppie Place in Kingston.

Last Meeting

Ahead of last year’s Women’s Worlds, Canada earned a 3-1 pre-tournament win over Finland in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Brianne Jenner broke a scoreless tie midway through the second period and added an assist on Marie-Philip Poulin’s insurance marker in the third. Emily Clark also scored for the Canadians, who got 19 combined saves from Ann-Renée Desbiens and Emerance Maschmeyer.

Last Game

Canada completed the reverse sweep again in the Rivalry Series, defeating the United States 6-1 in Game 7 in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Feb. 11. Natalie Spooner opened the scoring on the power play midway through the first period—her first of two goals. Poulin and Ashton Bell found the back of the net in the second period, and Emma Maltais scored two goals of her own in the third.

What to Watch

With the NCAA season complete, Canada’s roster has been bolstered by the addition of young talent. Sarah Fillier finished her senior season at Princeton with 30 goals and 43 points, and was named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best player in NCAA women’s hockey. Julia Gosling recorded career-highs during her senior year at St. Lawrence, notching 22 goals and 51 points, while Nicole Gosling (Julia’s cousin) finished her senior year at Clarkson with 14 goals and 39 points and was named a First Team All-American.

Petra Nieminen returns to Women’s Worlds after finishing second in tournament scoring (6-7—13) with the Finns a year ago in Brampton. The 24-year-old had 24 goals and 45 points during the regular season with Luleå HF in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League. In the PWHL, Susanna Tapani has been making an impact with Boston, recording a plus-12 rating along with three goals and eight points.

A Look Back

Although Canada has only a pair of losses and a tie in 88 all-time meetings with the Finns, the Nordic nation is always a tough matchup.

The teams have met before in Kingston. Throwing it back to 1996, Canada and Finland faced off at the inaugural 3 Nations Cup, with the Canadians winning 3-1. Lori Dupuis opened the scoring, while Amanda Benoit notched the game-winning goal off a pass from Angela James. Nancy Deschamps added an insurance goal in the third period.

All-time record: Canada leads 85-2-1
Canada goals: 452
Finland goals: 112

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Canada’s National Women’s Team announced for 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship

Twenty silver medallists from 2023 will wear Maple Leaf in Utica, NY

NR.012.24
|
March 07, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced the 23 players named to Canada’s National Women’s Team who will look to reclaim the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship, April 3-14 in Utica, New York.

Three goaltenders, seven defence and 13 forwards were selected by general manager Gina Kingsbury (Rouyn-Noranda, QC/Toronto, PWHL), head coach Troy Ryan (Spryfield, NS/Toronto, PWHL) and Cherie Piper (Scarborough, ON), senior manager of player development and scouting. Assistant coaches Kori Cheverie (New Glasgow, NS/Montréal, PWHL), Courtney Kessel (Mississauga, ON/Boston, PWHL) and Caroline Ouellette (Montréal, QC/Concordia University, RSEQ), along with goaltending consultant Brad Kirkwood (Calgary, AB/Toronto, PWHL), also provided input.

The 23 players selected include:

 

  • Two players who will be making their IIHF Women’s World Championship debut (Julia Gosling, Nicole Gosling)
  • 20 players who captured a silver medal at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Brampton (Ambrose, Bourbonnais, Campbell, Clark, Desbiens, Fast, Fillier, Jenner, Larocque, Maltais, Maschmeyer, Nurse, O’Neill, Poulin, Rattray, Serdachny, Shelton, Spooner, Stacey, Turnbull)

 

“It is always a difficult decision when it comes to the final selection process, but we challenged our coaching staff to look at our entire athlete pool and determine who we felt would give us the best chance at competing for a gold medal,” said Kingsbury. “We are extremely excited and confident in these 23 players, a group with championship experience, veteran leadership, character and youth, and we are excited for the journey to begin.”

The 10-team tournament features Canada in Group A with Czechia, Finland, Switzerland and the host United States, while Group B includes China, Denmark, Germany, Japan and Sweden.

Canada opens Women’s Worlds against Finland on April 4, and faces Switzerland on April 5 and Czechia on April 7 before closing out the preliminary round against its rivals from the United States on April 8.

Prior to the start of the tournament, Canada will play a pre-tournament game against Finland at 3 p.m. ET on March 30 at Slush Puppie Place in Kingston, Ontario, home of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Fans can secure their tickets when they go on sale to the public on Friday, March 8 at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets start at $20, plus applicable fees, and are available at HockeyCanada.ca/Tickets.

TSN and RDS, the official broadcast partners of Hockey Canada, will carry extensive game coverage throughout the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship, broadcasting all preliminary-round games, quarterfinals, semifinals and medal games from the Adirondack Bank Center. RDS will provide coverage of all Team Canada games, in addition to two quarterfinalss, both semifinals and medal games.

For more information from the International Ice Hockey Federation, please visit the official tournament site at 2024.womensworlds.hockey.   

In 22 appearances at the IIHF Women’s World Championship, Canada has captured 12 gold medals (1990, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2012, 2021, 2022), in addition to nine silver (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2023) and one bronze (2019).

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s National Women’s Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca or follow through social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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Hockey Canada publishes report on maltreatment in sanctioned hockey

Data expands on findings in last year’s inaugural report on Rule 11.4 – Discrimination

NR.087.23
|
November 30, 2023

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada and its Members have published a Tracking Maltreatment in Sanctioned Hockey report, which includes nation-wide data collected during the 2022-23 season from two independent complaint management mechanisms and all rules in Section 11 of the Hockey Canada Playing Rules.

The information contained in this report is an important step in Hockey Canada’s ongoing efforts to better track, identify and respond to maltreatment in hockey.

In December 2022, Hockey Canada and its Members published a report of all incidents of verbal taunts, insults or intimidation based on discriminatory grounds which occurred during the 2021-22 season, under Rule 11.4 – Discrimination.

The Tracking Maltreatment in Sanctioned Hockey report includes a broader scope of tracked maltreatment behaviours, including:

• Complaint intake data from Hockey Canada’s Independent Third Party (ITP);
• Ice hockey complaint intake data from the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC);
• Tracking of Rule 11.4 penalties and allegations from all 13 Members;
• Data from a pilot project that tracked other types of Rule 11 penalties in specific Hockey Canada Member jurisdictions.

“The Tracking Maltreatment in Sanctioned Hockey report is critical in our efforts to identify and take action against egregious behaviours that have no place in hockey and sport in general,” said Natasha Johnston, vice-president of sport safety for Hockey Canada. “We will continue to be transparent in publicly sharing the data we collect with our Members and use the insights to better inform our collective actions moving forward.

“With our Members, we are committed to expanding reporting on maltreatment in sanctioned hockey during the 2023-24 season as well as working to prevent and address maltreatment behaviours in sanctioned hockey programming. As we continue to build greater awareness and facilitate greater opportunities and trust for individuals to come forward, it is anticipated that there will be an increase in maltreatment incidences being reported on and off the ice.”

Hockey Canada will continue to make national reports on maltreatment publicly available and accessible on an annual basis as part of its overall sport safety framework.

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For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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Schedule
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Oakville, ON
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Prague & Ostrava, Czechia
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