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With pride and authenticity

After transitioning in 2018, Dee McWatters is working to create a safe and comfortable space for other transgender members of the hockey community

Mario Annicchiarico
|
June 10, 2022

For Dee McWatters, pride comes with respect, honour, determination and – most of all – acceptance.

The Summerland, B.C., minor hockey official and adult-league goaltender opened up to her community and world as transgender in 2018, announcing her intentions of transitioning from male to female.

As an official in the Penticton Minor Hockey Association and part of a women’s team, hockey has helped McWatters through her challenges.

“It’s beyond me,” she says of being readily accepted. “Let’s face it, sometimes the game has its male-dominated machismo, and it’s not the most comfortable place to come out.

“I remember what locker-room talk was like [when] I was a teen. It was a different era, but now my kids have spent time coaching and are the ones in the dressing room. Now they have the opportunity to be the influence in the room to provide that safe environment. It’s about sharing the game, allowing people to be diverse and be themselves.

“That future McDavid Gretzky or Ovechkin – it’s possible they may have come and gone because they left the sport at 14 because they just felt this is not a place where [they] feel comfortable,” McWatters, 48, says. “That would be a shame if that has happened. There shouldn’t be anyone who leaves the game because of how they may identify. They should be welcomed. We’re getting closer.”

McWatters, who also works as an operations manager with Time Family of Wines, now works to build a comfortable space for other transgender athletes.

After she came out to herself five years ago, McWatters remembers sharing her transition with the rest of her hockey community.

"aAt the time, I was doing more coaching and officiating in Summerland. I let the association know what I was going through with my transition, to not let it affect anything with my coaching and make sure they had my support, because they’re supposed to support me.”

She was officiating and not playing at the time.

“As a goaltender, I wasn’t really big on regular men’s beer league. I enjoyed refereeing it. It was good exercise and I made a couple of bucks. Then a few years ago I [officiated] a few games in the South Okanagan Women’s League and at the wind-up party someone asked me if I still played.

“I said, ‘Not really, I do coach and it’s been a while since I was in the net.’ And they were like, ‘You’re a goalie? That’s even more important.’ I said, ‘Well I’m not fully female yet.’ They said, ‘Yes you are. You identify as a female. Totally, yes, you’re one of us.’

From there, McWatters rediscovered her love of the game as a player, joining another team in the fall of 2019.

“only one of the girls knew me and they were like, ‘Who’s this new goalie we’re trying out? She’s awesome. Is she staying with us this season?’ I was just fully accepted as one of the ladies playing the game and I loved it.”

That’s when McWatters also found out about an all-transgender team competing in Boston, playing a weekend of games facing Boston Pride’s gay hockey team, with another event planned in Madison, Wisconsin the following year.

“I wanted to go to [Madison] and I raised some funds to go and had so much support that I turned it into a fundraiser for local youth LGBTQ programs. Then the [COVID-19] pandemic hit and Madison did not eventually happen. Hockey took a turn for a season and life went on,” she remembers.

“Things started lifting last year and I held another fundraiser and supported five different youth organizations, two local high school bursaries and donated money to Team Trans North America, to help fund those who otherwise couldn’t afford to go to one of our tournaments.”

She eventually competed in Wisconsin last year, playing at age 47, and was encouraged by seeing young athletes in their 20s being able to play the game they love as their authentic selves.

McWatters’ inspiration turned to action as she approached BC Hockey about developing an educational program to promote more diversity and support for hockey associations.

She was recently involved in a Zoom meeting with Kamloops Minor Hockey where a friend of hers is on the executive.

“They have a player [and their] family going through transitioning, and they want to make sure they have all the proper pieces in place to support the player and family so that they can move forward,” says McWatters, who was more than willing to help.

“That’s what I want to do, make sure no one leaves our game. They enjoy playing the game and they shouldn’t be pushed out because they’re uncomfortable as a person, whether they identify differently or whether their sexual orientation or preferences are different. It shouldn’t matter as we’re all just here to play this wonderful game of hockey.”

She also officiated at the girls’ provincial U15 tournament in Kelowna.

“I had the support of the Penticton Minor Hockey referee-in-chief to attend, but it was more that I wanted to show some visibility and spread the message that there are people like me in the game,” McWatters says.

“I am very visible. I never forget that I’m there to officiate, but I also want people to see who I am so that there might be some identifying young player or coach or fellow official that sees me out there and realizes, ‘I can be me and still stay in this game that I love.’”

In a sport she has adored since she started at eight years old before taking up officiating at 12, she now hopes to be a role model; McWatters encourages people to ask questions how they can support players in a similar position.

“I have gone through many steps, from accepting who I was, to others accepting, to my social transition, to my medical transition,” she shares. “I have gone through hormone replacement and gender reassignment surgery. That’s not the end-all, be-all for everybody. That was my choice. But I live every day completely and authentically as the female that [I] was meant to be inside.”

Mario Annicchiarico is a freelance writer based in Victoria who has previously covered the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers, as well as the Western Hockey League.

Emerance Maschmeyer

In My Own Words: Emerance Maschmeyer

The National Women’s Team goaltender talks about life with partner Geneviève Lacasse, starting a family, being a trailblazer in the PWHL and the importance of being one’s true self

Emerance Maschmeyer
|
June 15, 2024

A few of our friends described it as a “hard launch.”

Geneviève and I decided not to officially “come out,” but instead we decided to just post the photos from our wedding last July. At that point, our friends, our families, our circle – the people who meant the most – all knew about our relationship.

We wondered if we needed to have a big coming out story. But we thought posting the photos of the day was a fun way of saying, “This is us. We got married,” like anyone else would post about getting married. It was time for us to just put ourselves out there and not be scared. There was so much love and support, and it was just so inspiring to see the effect we were able to have, just posting about our relationship.

We have a platform and influence, and we have people who follow our journeys. At the end of the day, those who support us will support us, and we want them in our lives, and we want to connect with them, but those who don’t, that’s all right.

We knew the impact we could have sharing our relationship and sharing our story; we knew there would be a positive impact, and we could help so many other individuals with their journey. And so maybe with age, there was some courage in telling our story, but we have all the support we need. So, for us, it was – how do we help others and support others now?

Going public was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders that neither of us recognized was there. And now I feel like we’re very open to having conversations, talking about our relationship and being our true selves. It’s been a rewarding journey. It was only a year ago, and it’s been so fun to just be out there and be us as a couple.

Geneviève and I started dating in 2015. I told my sister pretty early on about our relationship. Geneviève was the first woman that I ever dated. So, I also wanted to make sure that it was something, a longstanding relationship, before I told my entire family, which I would’ve done in any relationship that I was in.

I was in school at Harvard at the time, and so my teammates and friends at school knew early as well. And I knew I wanted to tell my family, but I wanted to do it in person. I didn’t want to make it a big deal, but I also know the norm in society is still, you’re heterosexual until you say otherwise. You have to come out and tell your story. I wanted to make it as normal as possible, but I also wanted to have in-person conversations with my family.

About a year after we started dating, I started telling my family. I told my parents one at a time. I went through my family. And I have a big family, so it was a lot of conversations. Being young, I was 20 years old, I was quite nervous about the conversations, but ultimately my family was so supportive– every conversation left me with ‘my family supports me and loves me no matter who I love.’ I know that’s not the case for everyone, but I am very fortunate to have a family that has my back no matter what. They were just happy I was in a loving relationship.

There were hesitations in coming out publicly, but it didn’t really have anything to do with our sexuality. It had everything to do with the fact that both of us were still active with the National Women’s Team, and we didn’t want our news to be about our relationship or our sexuality. We wanted it to be about hockey and our performance.

It’s certainly not easy when you and your partner share a profession. At the beginning, we had to say to each other that in many ways our relationship comes first, but we also have to put our own hockey first. And not in a selfish way, it’s more like… “If you do everything you can to make a team and to put yourself in a position to play, and I do everything I can to make a team and put myself in a position to play, then it’s not up to us. It’s up to the coach, it’s up to the scouts, it’s up to external factors.”

We were on the journey together, we were working hard and doing everything we could do individually, but when it came down to those decisions, we weren’t angry at each other. We could feel empathy if one played over the other, but at the end of the day, if one of us is in net, then it became, “Okay, I support you or you support me.”

We did have some bumps in the road along the way. I was released from the 2018 Olympics and she made the team. And then vice versa, in 2022, I made the Olympic team and she was released. This presented us with a big learning opportunity in our relationship. The first time around when I was released, we weren’t equipped with the skills to handle it. It was a big dream of mine to make that team and to play in the Olympics. And what do you say to your partner on either end, the one who makes it or the one who doesn’t? Navigating the situation and our dynamic was complex. We were supportive of one another, and to protect our relationship we felt that not talking about hockey was the best course.

The second time around, going into Beijing, we learned how to talk through it. We gained an understanding of how to have difficult conversations, to talk about how we feel. We wish that neither of those situations happened, but they actually made our relationship a lot stronger. We have acquired the skills to support each other and communicate through difficult situations, and recognize the importance of continuously practicing and refining those skills.

We found out we were pregnant in late 2023, a few months after we got married. We’re fortunate that we have friends that have gone through the fertility treatment process that we could use as a resource, and so we asked a lot of questions. We did a lot of research. We were living in Quebec, and luckily there’s funding to make the financial burden easier. Our journey to conception wasn’t long, and for that we are grateful.

It’s been quite a journey. We’re so excited to start our family and welcome our little boy to the world. It’s something that we had been wanting to do for so long, but having us both playing, it wasn’t really a possibility, especially without the salaries and security of a professional league. But now we’re finally in a position where I’m playing in the PWHL and Geneviève has security in her job as manager of corporate sponsorships and sales with the league. It’s the most security and stability we’ve had in a long time, and we’re excited to start our family.

We are looking forward to having our son grow up around strong women. And we know that he’ll grow up to respect women and look at women’s athletes as just athletes.

And I can’t forget the gender reveal! I was sitting on the bus with Emily Clark on a road trip this year, and we were chatting about doing a gender reveal, and just brainstorming some ideas. And then somehow it came up that it would be so fun to have an obstacle course and have the team involved. It evolved into Clark vs. Jenner, boy vs. girl, and went from there.

Geneviève and I gave them the link to the gender, because we wanted to be surprised as well. We set up one day after practice, and Clarky and Jenner, they came up with how the race would go. It turned out so good!

This year has been such a whirlwind. The wedding, the announcement of the PWHL, signing with Ottawa, finding out we were pregnant, launching the league, winning another world championship … hard to believe that’s only the last 11 months.

It’s been so incredible, the momentum that we have in the PWHL, the fandom, the support, the investment and the visibility. And just the growth that we’ve had within just our first season. Being a professional hockey player still feels surreal to me, but the pride I felt every time I stepped onto the ice with my teammates in Ottawa this season … it’s indescribable to be part of something so special.

Obviously, there’s still a long way to go for equity and parity, but we’ve made some huge steps in the past few years. Even in the grassroots now, there’s that ripple effect from the PWHL of getting women in sport and staying in sport.

At our games, I see young fans, not just young girls, but young boys too who just see us as hockey players. They don’t see us as women’s hockey players. They’re looking up to us like, “You’re my favourite player, you’re my favourite goalie.” They’re not saying, “You’re my favourite female goalie.” It’s been fantastic to see the shift in the mindset, and there are so many more stepping stones to come.

Because it is Pride Month, which means so much to me, I did want to end with a few thoughts.

Individually, everyone can look inward and see where they can do the work. I think often, people lead with assumptions when meeting someone. But we can all do a better job at letting them tell their story versus labelling them with, ‘You are this or you are that.’ It can be intimidating to be your true self because of preconceived assumptions.

Unfortunately, there’s going to be hate online. That’s unavoidable in the social media age we live in. But I think as much as we can, we need to hold on to the love and the support, and ensure the kind, loving, supportive voices drown out the negative ones.

As someone who’s in a same-sex relationship, I know that at times I can still be a little timid or discouraged to be my true self, but for those in our community, I encourage you to be as courageous as you can. Be your true self. If you come into a conversation and lead with your authentic self, it will start changing minds slowly. One person at a time.

We are moving in the right direction, and together is how we’re going to keep moving.

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Canada wins gold medal at 2024 IIHF U18 World Championship

National Men's Under-18 Team scores three power-play goals in third period to win first world title since 2021

NR.031.24
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May 05, 2024

ESPOO, Finland – Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team made it a comeback for the ages to win its fifth gold medal—and first since 2021—at the 2024 IIHF U18 World Championship, beating the United States 6-4 at Metro Areena on Sunday.

Tij Iginla (Lake Country, BC/Kelowna, WHL) buried the game-winning goal at 14:19 of the third period, capping off a stretch of three power-play goals in 3:54 during a five-minute power play. 

Canada was trailing 3-2 midway through the third period when Gavin McKenna (Whitehorse, YT/Medicine Hat, WHL) started the comeback with his second goal of the game, tying it at 3-3. Just over three minutes later, Cole Beaudoin (Kanata, ON/Barrie, OHL) found the back on the net for Canada’s first lead of the game.

McKenna sealed the win, scoring an empty-netter to complete the hat trick with his 10th goal, which set a new record for goals by a Canadian at the tournament. He also finished with 20 points, the most by a Canadian at a single U18 Men’s Worlds.

“Obviously you can’t do it by yourself. I had an unbelievable line and a great team,” McKenna said. “I couldn’t have done it without them, there were so many guys that stepped up when we needed it and it all paid off in the end. There was never a doubt in our room. We have built unbelievable friendships that we’ll have for a lifetime. The U.S. played really well, but with the penalty—the power play is something we practiced all tournament, it came up big today and that was the key to our win.”

The U.S. took the lead with a goal in the final minute of the first period before Ryder Ritchie (Kelowna, BC/Prince Albert, WHL) tied the game with his fourth of the tournament in the middle frame. Canada would trail by two before McKenna found the top corner with a backhand that beat American goaltender Nick Kempf for a power-play goal, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

Carter George (Thunder Bay, ON/Owen Sound, OHL) was a difference-maker again, making one outstanding save after another, including a goal-line save on James Hagens just seconds after McKenna made it a one-goal game. George was named the Best Goaltender by the IIHF directorate following his 31 saves in the gold medal game.

“I have no words for him, Georgie is unbelievable,” McKenna said. “He kept us in it this whole game, honestly. There were times in this tournament where we might not have won, he’s an unbelievable person and player, and the sky is the limit for him.”

“We talk about grit and it being the guts of a team. We had needed a lot of guts just to hang in during the second period,” said head coach Gardiner MacDougall (Bedeque, PE/University of New Brunswick, AUS). “There’s grit, but also resilience and this team showed unbelievable resilience. We also showed initiative (with the score and the power play in the third) and tenacity is just about staying with it. All that shows the grit this group had. If you watched the game, there were times you probably thought there was no hope with this team, but George kept us in it. We pride ourselves that the longer we play, the better we should get, and it all proved true today. That speaks to the character of our group.”

Following the game, George, McKenna and Porter Martone (Peterborough, ON/Mississauga, OHL) were named to the media all-star team.

A full game summary can be found at HockeyCanada.ca.

Canada was undefeated in the tournament, beating Sweden, Czechia, Switzerland and Kazakhstan while outscoring its opponents 31-7 in the preliminary round. It booked its spot in the gold medal game with a 4-0 shutout of Latvia in the quarterfinals and a 5-4 win in the semifinal over Sweden.

Since 2002, Canada has won five gold medals at the IIHF U18 World Championship (2003, 2008, 2013, 2021, 2024), in addition to one silver (2005) and four bronze (2012, 2014, 2015, 2023).

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Canada wins bronze medal at 2024 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship

Stonehouse, Primerano, Kraemer score two goals each to lead Canada past Finland

NR.003.24
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January 14, 2024

ZUG, Switzerland Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team has won the bronze medal at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, defeating Finland 8-1 on Sunday at Bossard Arena.

Caitlin Kraemer (Waterloo, ON/Waterloo, OWHA U22 Elite), Chloe Primerano (North Vancouver, BC/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) andAbby Stonehouse (Blenheim, ON/Waterloo, OWHA U22 Elite)scored two goals each to lead the offence.

Kraemer became the all-time leading scorer with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team with 35 points (26-9—35), surpassing Marie-Philip Poulin and Jessica Campbell, while Primerano, who also added an assist, finished with 16 points (8-8—16), setting the single-tournament Canadian scoring record and single-tournament record for points by a defender.

Campbell (15 points in 2010) and Brigette Lacquette (13 points in 2010) previously held the two records broken by Primerano.

“This group is amazing, and I’m so proud of how we were able to rebound,” said Kraemer. “Obviously this isn’t the colour we wanted to win, but we won’t take for granted the fact that we medaled in the world championship. A lot of teams would love to be in our shoes today and that isn’t lost on us as a group. I’m proud of us.”

Mackenzie Alexander (Toronto, ON/Etobicoke, OWHA U22 Elite) andMaxine Cimoroni (Toronto, ON/Mississauga, OWHA U22 Elite)rounded out the scoring, while Makayla Watson (Brooks, AB/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) added a pair of assists.

“The unique opportunity we had after losing in the semifinal was that we had a chance to finish on a high note,” said head coach Tara Watchorn (Newcastle, ON/Boston University, HE) . “We were given another day and another chance to go out and represent our country with pride. We did an amazing job of that today.”

Rosalie Breton (Saint-Bernard, QC/Limoilou, CEGEP), Sienna D’Alessandro (Pointe-Claire, QC/John Abbott College, CEGEP) , Gracie Graham (Kelowna, BC/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL), Morgan Jackson (Courtenay, BC/Shawnigan Lake School, CSSHL), Jessica MacKinnon (Clark’s Harbour, NS/Ridley College, OWHA U22 Elite) , Emma Venusio (Toronto, ON/Etobicoke, OWHA U22 Elite) and Stryker Zablocki (Prince Albert, SK/Regina, SFU18AAAHL)all chipped in with assists.

Rhyah Stewart (Antigonish, NS/Cape Breton West, NSU18MHL)made 11 saves for her third victory of the tournament.

“This win says so much about how much character we have in our locker room,” added Stonehouse. “We handled the adversity the best way we could and showed the world what we are capable of today and I’m proud of the girls on this team.”

Following the game, D’Alessandro, Kraemer and Primerano were announced as Canada’s top three players, as selected by the coaching staff.

The 2025 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship will be held in Vantaa, Finland, Jan. 5-12, 2025.

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca , or follow along through social media on Facebook , X and Instagram , and by using #U18WomensWorlds.

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Canada vs. Finland

U18 Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Finland

Sunday, January 14 | 9 a.m. ET | Zug, Switzerland | Bronze Medal Game

Shannon Coulter
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January 14, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. FINLAND (JAN. 14)

Medals are on the line Sunday as Canada’s National Women's Under-18 Team battles Finland for bronze to close out the 2024 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.

Last Game

Canada fell 4-2 to Czechia in a tight Saturday semifinal. Chloe Primerano got Canada within a goal in the second period, Stryker Zablocki tied it early in the third and Canada outshot the Czechs 47-12, but the Canadians missed out on the gold medal game for just the second time in tournament history.

The Finns were downed by the United States by the same 4-2 score in their semifinal. Tinja Tapani and Nelly Andersson scored second-period goals to keep it close and Kerttu Kuja-Halkola made 40 saves for the Finns, who are in search of their second bronze medal in the last three years, and fourth overall.

Last Meeting

Canada finished the preliminary round by shutting out Finland 10-0 on Tuesday to earn top spot in Group A. Primerano and Caitlin Kraemer scored seven seconds apart in the first period—tying the tournament record for fastest two goals—to give the Canadians a 2-0 lead. Sienna D’Alessandro, Reese Logan and Primerano added goals in the middle frame before Canada exploded for a five-goal third period. Primerano became the first defender to record a hat trick at U18 Women’s Worlds and Kraemer completed one of her own. Hannah Clark made seven saves for the shutout.

What to Watch

Primerano continues to impress her first world championship. With her power-play goal in the semifinals, the North Vancouver, B.C., product is now tied for the most points by a defender at one U18 Women’s Worlds (a record set by Canadian blue-liner Brigette Lacquette in 2010). The 17-year-old is the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals and seven assists in five games.

Third in tournament scoring, Emma Ekoluoma has been terrific for the Finns. She scored back-to-back hat tricks to start the tournament and has 10 points (7-3—10) in five games. The 17-year-old has been terrific with Kärpät in the Naisten Liiga, the top women’s league in Finland, recording 12 goals and 22 points in 23 games.

A Look Back

This will be the 15th meeting between the Canadians and Finns at U18 Women’s Worlds, and as the Finnish program continues to improve, the games have become much closer in recent years.

In their first-ever meeting at the inaugural world championship in Calgary in 2008, Canada got five points each from Laura Fortino (1-4—5) and Natalie Spooner (0-5—5) and a hat trick from Marie-Philip Poulin in a 17-0 win, still the most goals scored in one game by a Canadian team at the tournament.

But Finland handed Canada a 2-0 loss in the opening game of the 2022 tournament, before Jade Iginla and Madison Chantler helped Canada secure a 2-1 win in the semifinals, and it took an overtime winner from Alex Law to give Canada a 3-2 semifinal win last year.

All-time record: Canada leads 13-1 (1-0 in OT)
Canada goals: 84
Finland goals: 8

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Canada vs. Czechia

U18 Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Czechia

Saturday, January 13 | 9 a.m. ET | Zug, Switzerland | Semifinal

Shannon Coulter
|
January 13, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. CZECHIA (JAN. 13)

It’s semifinal Saturday at the 2024 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, and Canada’s National Women's Under-18 Team will face off against Czechia at Bossard Arena for a spot in the gold medal game.

Last Game

Canada met the home team in the quarterfinals, shutting out Switzerland 6-0 to advance to the semis. Sienna D’Alessandro scored twice to give her seven goals in the tournament. Gracie Graham had a goal and two assists, with Maxine Cimoroni, Morgan Jackson and Caitlin Kraemer rounding out the scoring. Chloe Primerano recorded three helpers and Rhyah Stewart made three saves to record her first international shutout.

Czechia battled Sweden in the first quarterfinals, winning 4-2 to earn a spot in the semifinals. Isabelle Leijonhielm gave Sweden an early lead, but Adela Sapovaliova and Tereza Plosova responded for Czechia for a 2-1 advantage after the first period. Sweden’s Ella Hellman tied the game in the third period before Sapovaliova and Linda Vocetkova sealed the win for the Czechs.

Last Meeting

Looking back less than a week, Canada downed Czechia 8-1 on Sunday for its second win in as many days. The Canadians scored a record three shorthanded goals—two from Abby Stonehouse, who also added three helpers for a five-point performance. Kraemer scored twice to set another goal-scoring record, passing Marie-Philip Poulin for the most by a Canadian at U18 Women’s Worlds. Jackson, Emma Venusio and Mackenzie Alexander rounded out the scoring. Stewart made 23 saves in her tournament debut.

What to Watch

With high-scoring games and only one goal against so far, several Canadians are close to breaking tournament scoring records. Primerano (5-7—12) needs two points to record the most by a defender at a single U18 Women’s Worlds. Caitlin Kraemer (8-0—8) is three goals away from breaking her own single-tournament Canadian mark set last year. And between the pipes, Hannah Clark is tied for the most career shutouts at the tournament (5), with U.S. netminders Sidney Peters and Alex Cavallini.

Adela Sapovalivova and Tereza Plosova continue to be a dynamic duo for Czechia. Sapovaliova has seven goals and one helper, while Plosova has recorded one goal and six assists through four games each. Both players were a part of Czechia’s bronze medal team at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Brampton, Ontario, and Sapovalivova has another bronze from the 2022 Women’s Worlds in Calgary, Alberta.

A Look Back

This semifinal will be the eighth meeting between the Canadians and Czechs at U18 Women’s Worlds. Canada has had the edge in all seven all-time matchups, only allowing five goals.

It’s the second time the teams have met in the playoff round; at the 2018 tournament in Dmitrov, Russia, Courtney Correia, Willow Slobodzian and Courtney Kollman scored second-period goals as Canada earned a 3-1 win to advance to the semifinals.

All-time record: Canada leads 7-0
Canada goals: 58
Czechia goals: 5

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Canada vs. Switzerland

U18 Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Switzerland

Thursday, January 11 | 11 a.m. ET | Zug, Switzerland | Quarterfinal

Shannon Coulter
|
January 11, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. SWITZERLAND (JAN. 11)

It’s win or go home at the 2024 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship as Canada’s National Women's Under-18 Team faces the home team Switzerland in the quarterfinals at Bossard Arena.

Last Game

Canada finished the preliminary round with a perfect record, shutting out Finland 10-0 on Tuesday to earn top spot in Group A. Chloe Primerano and Caitlin Kraemer scored seven seconds apart in the first period—tying the tournament record for fastest two goals—to give the Canadians a 2-0 lead. Sienna D’Alessandro, Reese Logan and Primerano added goals in the middle frame before Canada exploded for a five-goal third period. Primerano became the first defender to record a hat trick at U18 Women’s Worlds and Kraemer completed one of her own. Hannah Clark made seven saves for the shutout.

Switzerland was last on the ice yesterday, losing to Slovakia 2-1 in overtime to close the prelims. Nela Lopusanova gave Slovakia an early lead, but Sonja Inkamp scored on the power play in the second period to tie the game. Switzerland outshot Slovakia 31-27, but Hana Krakorova found the back of the net 61 seconds into overtime to leave the Swiss winless in the preliminary round.

Last Meeting

It’s been 12 years since Canada last met Switzerland at U18 Women’s Worlds, with the Canadians downing the Swiss 13-1 to open the 2012 tournament in Zlin, Czechia. It was a slower start, with Canada leading 2-1 after 20 minutes, but the offence exploded from there. Ten different players scored, including Catherine Dubois, who finished a hat trick, and Taylor Woods, who scored twice. Emerance Maschmeyer made 25 saves.

What to Watch

The Canadians have had their foot on the gas in the offensive end, and plenty of the contributions have come from the blue line. Primerano became the first defender to record a U18 Women’s Worlds hat trick on Tuesday and led the prelims in scoring with nine points (5-4—9). Emma Venusio is not far behind Primerano, with the captain now sixth in tournament scoring with a goal and six helpers.

Despite the loss to Slovakia, Talina Benderer was fantastic in the Swiss goal. The 17-year-old made 25 saves in the extra-time defeat, joining the 32 saves she made against Sweden. The HC Davos Ladies netminder is back for her second world championship—last year, she had a 3-2 record, a 1.25 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.

A Look Back

This will be the fourth meeting between the Canadians and the Swiss at U18 Women’s Worlds, and historically Canada has had a wide edge in this matchup.

In their first-ever meeting at the 2009 world championship in Füssen, Germany, Casandra Langan scored four times and Jamie Lee Rattray had a hat trick as Canada opened the tournament with a 16-1 win. Sixteen of Canada’s 18 skaters recorded at least a point, and the Canadians outshot Switzerland 80-7.

All-time record: Canada leads 3-0
Canada goals: 38
Switzerland goals: 3

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Chloe Primerano and Rhyah Stewart in action at the 2024 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Zug, Switzerland.

Breaking barriers in the women’s game

As players like Chloe Primerano and Rhyah Stewart continue to make history early in their careers, it opens the doors for the next generation to set goals to do the same

Shannon Coulter
|
January 10, 2024

Sometimes history can happen in the most unlikely of places—like in the car on the way home from school.

That’s where Chloe Primerano was when she found out that she was selected by the Vancouver Giants in the 13th round of the 2022 Western Hockey League Prospects Draft, becoming the first woman skater to be drafted into the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).

“I heard some rumours, some talking that it might happen, but I didn’t know for sure if I was going to be drafted, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up or anything,” Primerano explains. “I saw on my phone that it happened and got a call from the GM. It was a pretty unreal experience to be the first to get drafted.”

Trailblazers like Hayley Wickenheiser, Manon Rhéaume and Cammi Granato opened the doors by recording historic “firsts” in the men’s game. As the women’s game continues to advance, more and more players are writing their names in the history books.

One year after making history at the draft, Primerano had another “first” when she participated in the annual Creative Artists Agency (CAA) summer prospects camp in Los Angeles, becoming the first woman skater to attend. At the camp, she was on the ice with top prospects like Hlinka Gretzky Cup gold medallists Berkly Catton and Ryder Ritchie.

“I think being on the ice with everyone, it was really good,” she says. “All of the players were super high-level, so it was good to be able to be pushed every day. It wasn’t easy, but it definitely helped me out.”

Chloe Primerano plays the puck against Germany.

Primerano is not the only member of Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team to have made history. Goaltender Rhyah Stewart made history when she appeared in a pre-season game for the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League’s Cape Breton Eagles, becoming the first woman to play for the Eagles and the fifth woman to play in the CHL.

After finding out she would get a chance to play from Eagles head coach Louis Robitaille and goalie coach Blade Mann-Dixon, Stewart says she was really excited.

“I knew it was an opportunity not many women get to have, so just to be one of the few, it was definitely an honour,” she says. “I was definitely really excited to get that opportunity to see what I can do in one of those big moments in my career.”

Stewart saw 30 minutes of action against the Moncton Wildcats on Aug. 25 and stopped all 24 shots she faced. The 16-year-old from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, received a standing ovation when she was removed from the game and was named first star.

Reflecting back on the game, Stewart says the fan support she received sticks out.

“The building was fairly packed for a pre-season exhibition game,” she says. “Just to see the reaction when I was done and all the younger fans there in attendance to watch me was pretty cool.”

Rhyah Stewart makes a save against Czechia.

Both Primerano and Stewart were a part of history at the Canada Winter Games last year, too. With British Columbia and Nova Scotia reaching the gold medal game, Primerano helped lead B.C. to its first gold medal and Stewart made history as Nova Scotia earned its first-ever medal in women’s hockey.

“It was awesome that we got the chance to win. I don’t know if we all expected it, but we came out on top,” Primerano says. “You get to see so many different people and meet a lot of new people from different provinces. We got to go watch a couple different sports. It’s pretty special.”

“It was an incredible experience,” Stewart adds. “One thing that stands out to me was our semifinal [against Ontario] when we went in as heavy underdogs. For us to be able to go off that victory was pretty incredible.”

As historic firsts continue to happen in women’s hockey, it helps to inspire the “see it, be it” mentality within the next generation.

“I think it’s impacted the growth [of the women’s game] immensely,” Stewart says. “For someone to go in and be able to break down the barrier showcases that another woman is also capable to do that. I think when younger generations get to see that, they get to strive for higher goals.”

With continued advancements in the women’s game, like the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season, it opens the door for more young hockey players to dream of playing the game professionally, including players like Primerano and Stewart who have already made history in their careers.

“I’d love to play in that league,” Primerano says of the PWHL. “It’s great to have something where you can play all year round and play against high-level competition.”

“I’ve always wanted to play professionally, but there was uncertainty that came with that. You didn’t know what kind of league you’d be getting into,” Stewart explains. “Now with the new PWHL, it’s opened the doors and made me really want to strive for that goal.”

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Canada vs. Finland

U18 Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Finland

Tuesday, January 9 | 2 p.m. ET | Zug, Switzerland | Preliminary Round

Shannon Coulter
|
January 09, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. FINLAND (JAN. 9)

The preliminary round at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship comes to a close Tuesday as Canada’s National Women's Under-18 Team battles Finland for top spot in Group A at Bossard Arena.

Last Game

Canada downed Czechia 8-1 on Sunday for its second win in as many days. The Canadians scored three shorthanded goals—two from Abby Stonehouse, who also added three helpers for a five-point performance. Caitlin Kraemer scored twice to set another goal-scoring record, passing Marie-Philip Poulin for the most by a Canadian at U18 Women’s Worlds. Emma Venusio, Morgan Jackson and Mackenzie Alexander rounded out the scoring. Rhyah Stewart made 23 saves in her tournament debut.

Finland is also undefeated in Group A after shutting out Germany 6-0 on Sunday. Emma Ekolumoa scored her second hat trick in as many games and added an assist, Abigail Byskata had two goals and a helper, and captain Tuuli Talinen recorded three assists. Kerttu Kuja-Halkola made six saves for Finland.

Last Meeting

Canada last met Finland in the semifinals last year, with the Canadians edging the Finns 3-2 in overtime. Abby Stonehouse opened the scoring midway through the first period, but Sanni Vanhanen responded to help Finland tie it after 40 minutes. Paulina Salonen gave the Finns an early lead in the third period with a power-play goal eight seconds into the frame before Alex Law tied it with 7:22 left to push the game to extra time. Ava Murphy scored the game-winner and Hannah Clark made 24 saves to send Canada to the gold medal game.

What to Watch

There are nine returning players for Canada and their experience is showing. After her five-point performance on Sunday, Abby Stonehouse is tied for the tournament scoring lead with seven points (2-5—7). Captain Emma Venusio is also steadily contributing to the Canadian offence, with five points (1-4—5) through two games. And let’s not forget Kraemer, who has four goals in two games, is up to 14 in her U18 Women’s Worlds career and seems to set a new record every time she touches the puck.

Ekoluoma has been terrific for the Finns, scoring back-to-back hat tricks to start the tournament and sitting alongside Stonehouse with a tournament-leading seven points in two games. The 17-year-old has been terrific with Kärpät in the Naisten Liiga, the top women’s league in Finland, recording 12 goals and 22 points in 23 games.

A Look Back

This will be the 14th meeting between the Canadians and Finns at U18 Women’s Worlds, and as the Finnish program continues to improve, the games have become much closer in recent years.

In their first-ever meeting at the inaugural world championship in Calgary in 2008, Canada got five points each from Laura Fortino (1-4—5) and Natalie Spooner (0-5—5) and a hat trick from Marie-Philip Poulin in a 17-0 win, still the most goals scored in one game by a Canadian team at the tournament.

But Finland handed Canada a 2-0 loss in the opening game of the 2022 tournament, before Jade Iginla and Madison Chantler helped Canada secure a 2-1 win in the semifinals, and it took an overtime winner from Alex Law to give Canada a 3-2 semifinal win last year.

All-time record: Canada leads 12-1 (1-0 in OT)
Canada goals: 74
Finland goals: 8

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Canada vs. Czechia

U18 Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Czechia

Sunday, January 7 | 2 p.m. ET | Zug, Switzerland | Preliminary Round

Shannon Coulter
|
January 07, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. CZECHIA (JAN. 7)

Canada’s National Women's Under-18 Team is back on the ice, looking to build on a tournament-opener win against Germany when its faces Czechia at Bossard Arena as the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship continues.

Last Game

What a start to the tournament for Canada, shutting out Germany 11-0 in its prelim opener. Fifteen players found the score sheet, including a five-point performance by Chloe Primerano and a hat trick by Sienna D’Alessandro. Morgan Jackson and Caitlin Kraemer scored twice, with Claire Murdoch and Charlotte Pieckenhagen rounding out the scoring. Hannah Clark made four saves for the shutout.

Czechia fell 3-2 to Finland in the tournament opener Saturday. The Czechs took an early 2-0 lead thanks to two goals by Adela Sapovaliova, but an Emma Ekoluoma hat trick gave the Finns a come-from-behind win. Aneta Senkova made 17 saves for Czechia.

Last Meeting

Let’s go back to the quarterfinals in 2018 for the last game between these two teams, with Canada recording a 3-1 win in Dmitrov, Russia. Courtney Correia, Willow Slobodzian and Courtnery Kollman scored over a span of nine minutes in the second period. Adela Skrdlova got one back for the Czechs early in the third, but Madelyn McArthur made 15 saves to lead Canada to the semifinals.

What to Watch

How about Sienna D’Alessandro? The Pointe-Claire, Quebec, native only needed 21 minutes to record her hat trick against Germany. On the blue line, Chloe Primerano had a breakout performance in her first U18 Women’s Worlds game; the North Vancouver, B.C., product had five points (2-3—5) against the Germans—that tied the Canadian record for most points by a defender in a single game, set by Laura Fortino in 2008.

Although Czechia has not won a medal at this tournament since 2014, there are two world championship medal holders on its roster. Adela Sapovalivova and Tereza Plosova were a part of Czechia’s bronze medal team at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Brampton, Ontario, and Sapovalivova has another bronze medal from the 2022 Women’s Worlds in Calgary, Alberta. Both players finished in the top-10 in scoring at last year’s U18 Women’s Worlds, recording six points apiece in five games.

A Look Back

Sunday marks the seventh meeting between the Canadians and Czechs at U18 Women’s Worlds and the first matchup in six years. Canada has had the edge in all six all-time matchups, only allowing four goals.

All-time record: Canada leads 6-0
Canada goals: 50
Czechia goals: 4

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Canada vs. Germany

U18 Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Germany

Saturday, January 6 | 2 p.m. ET | Zug, Switzerland | Preliminary Round

Shannon Coulter
|
January 06, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. GERMANY (JAN. 6)

The quest for an eighth gold medal at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship begins Saturday as Canada’s National Women's Under-18 Team opens the 2024 tournament against Germany at Bossard Arena.

Last Game

Canada was last in action back in August, sweeping the United States with a 5-2 victory to close out a three-game series in Lake Placid, New York. Caitlin Kraemer had a goal and three assists, while Chloe Primerano and Jessica MacKinnon added a goal and two helpers each. Emma Venusio and Jessie Pellerin rounded out the scoring. Marilou Grenier recorded 19 saves for the win.

The Germans faced Denmark in their lone pre-tournament game on Wednesday on home ice in Füssen, scoring a 4-3 shootout victory. Hanna Hoppe scored twice and Amelie Rosenstock added a goal as the Germans erased a 3-0 deficit in the third period to force extra time before Charleen Poindl netted the shootout winner.

Last Meeting

We have to rewind back to 2013 for the last time Canada faced Germany at U18 Women’s Worlds, with the Canadians earning a 7-0 shutout win in Vierumäki, Finland, to close the preliminary round. Halli Krzyzaniak scored twice to lead the offence, Catherine Daoust had a power-play goal and Sarah Nurse scored shorthanded. Jessica Dodds needed to make just five saves to record her first international shutout.

What to Watch

After her record-breaking tournament last year, Caitlin Kraemer will don the Maple Leaf once again in Switzerland. The 17-year-old is one goal and nine points away from becoming the all-time leader for Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team in both categories. Kraemer made history in the gold medal game a year ago in Östersund, Sweden, recording just the second four-goal game by a Canadian and passing Marie-Philip Poulin for the most goals by a Canadian at a single U18 Women’s Worlds (10).

Germany beat Norway to win Division I, Group A gold in Ritten, Italy, last year, earning its first appearance in the top division since 2013. All 12 eligible players from last year’s roster made the long list for 2024, including Anastasia Gruß, who led the offence with two goals and three points in five games. Leading up to puck drop in Zug, the Germans defeated Czechia 3-2 in November and shut out Switzerland 1-0 in December, proving they are capable of competing with top-level rivals in this tournament.

A Look Back

It has been 11 years since these two teams have faced off at U18 Women’s Worlds. Canada has had the edge in all six all-time matchups, only allowing two goals.

Jessica Campbell set the Canadian single-game scoring record against the Germans at the 2010 tournament, scoring twice and adding four assists in a 15-0 prelim win in Chicago.

All-time record: Canada leads 6-0
Canada goals: 56
Germany goals: 2

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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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