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Travel the Road to Sochi with Gillian Apps

The two-time Olympic gold medallist says "it's one thing to win a medal, and it's even harder to defend"

Kristen Lipscombe
|
October 17, 2013
Gillian Apps has travelled the road to Olympic gold a couple of times now.

But from the first puck drop to the final buzzer – and every practice, game, training session, road trip in between – each trek to that sparkling summit of athletic accomplishment has been a unique experience for the forward from Unionville, Ont.

“I think each round of centralization is a little bit different,” Apps said following a recent practice in Burlington, Vt., while on the road with Canada’s National Women’s Team for two pre-Olympic games against the United States. “This time it’s been good so far; busier I think than it has been in the past.”

Apps is one of 27 top female players from across the country currently centralized with Team Canada for the 2013-14 season, and based out of Hockey Canada’s home facilities in Calgary, Alta. When they’re not playing, practising and training inside the Markin MacPhail Centre, they’re taking the bus across the province to play against AAA boys’ teams from the Alberta Midget Hockey League, or flying to major cities on both sides of the border to take on the U.S. in preparation for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, next February. The Canadian roster will be whittled down to 21 players before that long sought after trip to Sochi.

In the meantime, their stop in Burlington this October was to face off against the United States for an intense on-ice rivalry. Canada edged the U.S. 3-2 in the first of six Olympic warm-up games between the two rival teams Oct. 12, although it was more like a heated battle on the ice, sparks flying and all. Following the win, the maple leafs shifted focus to their second game against the stars and stripes, which was scheduled for just five days later, Oct. 17 at the Centre d’excellence Sports Rousseau in Boisbriand, Que.

“There are also similarities, with playing in the Midget AAA league, and going on tour with the U.S.,” Apps said of her third centralization, adding this time around “we’ve just been at the rink a little bit more.” For a high performance athlete who has already successfully gone through the trials and tribulations en route to winning Olympic gold, not once but twice, both at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., it’s clear the Road to Sochi 2014 is a rigorous journey for veterans and rookies alike.

Apps and her teammates love having hockey as their full-time job this season, but maintaining a sense of balance is also important. “I think you just take your down time when it comes, and try to unwind a little bit, and make sure you’re taking care of yourself – eating and sleeping,” Apps said. “And just trying to stay present when you’re at the rink.”

It’s all worth it for Apps. Not only for the possibility of having a third Olympic gold medal placed around her neck at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, but also to have the chance to spend time with her teammates every day. Apps has been a member of Canada’s National Women’s Team since 2001, also winning three women’s world championship gold medals during that time.

“It’s fun to be with this group, together full-time,” she said of what stands out for her so far this season. “Just feeling like a team that comes to the rink every day.”

Having teammates help push you through the rough patches through a tough year is also important for the red and white to stay on top of their game. “That’s why it’s so great that we have such a close group, because you can use your teammates to help you get through those hard times.”

Team Canada also adheres to mottos and messages that help motivate them on a daily basis. First introduced just before spring’s boot camp in Penticton, B.C., this season some of the team’s words to live by are “dig a little deeper.”

“When things are tough, just keep going,” Apps said. “You’ve always got more in you, so making sure that you’re giving your best every day.”

Apps said she and her teammates are excited to see proud Canadian crowds fill the stands, whether it’s at a small rink in rural Alberta as part of the ongoing National Women’s Team-Midget Series, or for one of the four remaining games against the United States, at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary on Dec. 8; the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., on Dec. 20; the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on Dec. 28 or the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., on Dec. 30.

“That’s the part that everyone’s looking forward to,” Apps said, adding she’s also hoping to experience Sochi 2014, which would be a completely new “dream come true.”

“If I had the chance to do it again, it would be a big honour,” she said.

Apps, who perhaps comes by her undying hockey determination honestly, as the daughter of Syl Apps Jr. and granddaughter of Syl Apps Sr. of the National Hockey League, said participating in the Olympics is simply something you train “your whole life for.”

Finally, Apps makes an important point as to why she is thrilled to take the road to gold a third straight time. “It’s one thing to win a medal, and it’s even harder to defend.”

Hockey Canada forms women's and girls' steering committee

15 stakeholders to lead work on reflections and insights on state of women’s and girls’ hockey

NR.038.24
|
May 31, 2024

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Hockey Canada has formed a committee of stakeholders, chaired by current board member and National Women’s Team alumna Gillian Apps, to oversee a discussion paper that will lead to formal recommendations to guide the organization’s next women’s and girls’ hockey strategic plan.

The committee was formally launched at a press conference in Winnipeg today, where Hockey Canada’s Spring Congress is taking place alongside a women’s and girls’ hockey symposium with provincial and territorial representation from all of Hockey Canada’s 13 Members, facilitated by Canadian Women & Sport.

“Internationally, Canada has always been a leader in women’s hockey. Now is the time to ensure we are on the leading edge of identifying and addressing gaps in the current system to provide women and girls with even more opportunities to thrive in the future,” said Apps. “This committee’s efforts will be critical to furthering the game at all levels, and we are grateful this group has agreed to volunteer and be part of this important work.”

The committee features 15 stakeholders, including six National Women’s Team (NWT) alumnae:

  • Gillian Apps, Hockey Canada Board of Directors and NWT alumna
  • Pierre Arsenault, chief executive officer of U SPORTS
  • Thérèse Brisson, president and chief executive officer of Alpine Canada, and NWT alumna
  • Cassie Campbell-Pascall, broadcaster, special advisor to the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) and NWT alumna
  • Debra Gassewitz, president and chief executive officer of the Sport Information Resource Centre
  • Jayna Hefford, senior vice-president of hockey operations for the PWHL and NWT alumna
  • Katherine Henderson, president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada
  • Marian Jacko, Hockey Canada Board of Directors
  • Angela James, Hockey Canada Foundation Board of Directors and NWT alumna
  • Rob Knesaurek, senior vice-president of youth development and industry growth with the National Hockey League
  • Anne Merklinger, chief executive officer of Own the Podium
  • Mary-Kay Messier, vice-president of marketing for Bauer Hockey
  • Brad Morris, Hockey Canada Foundation Board of Directors
  • Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, chief executive officer of Canadian Women & Sport
  • Kim St-Pierre, regional manager at Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities and NWT alumna

“Supporting the growth of women’s and girls’ hockey in Canada is a priority for our board, and forming this committee is a tremendous next step to further understand and address the challenges that exist in the game,” said Jonathan Goldbloom, chair of the Hockey Canada Board of Directors. “We thank Gillian for taking on a leadership role with this project and are confident the committee’s efforts will benefit our organization, Members, stakeholders and Canadians for generations to come.”

After consulting with Hockey Canada’s Members, the committee’s women’s and girls’ hockey discussion paper is expected to be published in early summer 2024. Additional interviews will take place at that time with stakeholders inside and outside of the game, including opportunities for the Canadian public to be part of the research.

“Our women’s and girls’ hockey department, led by Marin Hickox, has made significant strides in the past few years to grow the game at all levels, including by mobilizing the leads from each of our Members,” said Henderson. “We are thrilled this new committee will work collectively with Marin and her leads to review existing research and establish a roadmap for where we all envision women’s and girls’ hockey in the future, as there remains a tremendous amount of potential to remove existing barriers to the sport.”

To learn more about Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on FacebookX and Instagram.

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Kaylee Grant instructs a group of young girls on the ice at the One For All event in Yellowknife.

Making an impact in the North

A game-changer in women’s hockey, Kaylee Grant tirelessly gives her time across the territories, volunteering to ensure opportunities exist for women and girls

Katie Brickman
|
April 14, 2024

The first thing Kaylee Grant did when she moved to Yellowknife was find a hockey team.

The operating engineer took a one-year term to gain experience in her industry. Twelve years later, she’s still in the Northwest Territories and hockey has been a reason why she calls it home.

“You gravitate to what you know, and I knew sports,” Grant says. “When you join a sport, you instantly have 17 friends and a group where you feel accepted through a common goal and interest. When I moved to the North, I didn’t know how else to meet friends, so I went to the rink right away.”

Grant grew up around the rink in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The community was also a hockey hotbed, supporting its Junior A, Junior B and university teams. Being around that passion and community made hockey an important part of her life.

“Playing hockey is what we did,” Grant says. “The community rallied behind our teams and the rinks were full, the atmosphere was great, and hockey was so prominent.”

She played minor hockey in Nova Scotia before moving to Newfoundland and Labrador to play at Memorial University. At 23 years old, she made the move to Yellowknife and knew she would find her community inside a rink.

“I find that the easiest thing to do when you come to a new place to meet people is through sport,” she says. “With joining a hockey team, I was already creating a group of people that were like-minded in interests and similar age. Plus, there are so many opportunities in the North to grow as coaches, players and mentors that have been so helpful.”

Grant’s love for the game wasn’t just as a player—she expanded her knowledge by getting into coaching while in Nova Scotia. She started as an off-ice coordinator with the Antigonish Bulldogs women’s under-18 team.

Kaylee Grant smiles as she skates with a young player on the ice.

She did her Coach Development 1 training before getting her High Performance 1 training and evaluation certification. She continued to pursue additional coaching certification and training over the years to educate herself and give back to her community.

“I think seeing the female game continuously grow and develop that keeps me interested,” Grant says. “I love to see the progress in my players. I love seeing these players grow and adapt as individuals. Seeing them get involved in coaching is the coolest part.”

Her coaching philosophy is to develop a player’s passion for the game, be a role model and create an environment that is positive for women and girls.

Coaching and mentoring young girls are important to Grant, and she saw that path was through high-level opportunities, particularly by becoming a facilitator to drive more players into the coaching route. She has been working with Hockey North and the Hockey Canada Women Master Coach Developer program, which is focused on removing barriers to coaching education for women.

“Kaylee has volunteered at pretty much every level and she’s getting more involved with training coaches and being a clinician, which is an amazing progression for her,” says Kyle Kugler, executive director of Hockey North and a close friend of Grant. “She’s a great ambassador for hockey by giving back to other coaches through her experiences and helping with their development.”

Through being a volunteer coach, Grant has been able to experience some highlights with her teams, including as head coach for the Arctic Winter Games and Canada Winter Games, and as an assistant coach for Team North at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.

“Hockey North has given me so many opportunities and having that support has impacted me as a coach,” Grant says. “I enjoyed every year with those territorial teams and those experiences are a very big reason why I stay here – the coaching opportunities and knowing that we continually have room to grow.”

Another event that Grant was a key volunteer for was the inaugural One For All festival held in Yellowknife in February. It was a four-day event for women and girls from across the N.W.T. and Nunavut that included goaltending clinics, on-ice scrimmages and other off-ice experiences. The event was launched in partnership with Hockey Canada and Hockey North to celebrate the sport and grow grassroots hockey in the North.

“Kaylee is one of our co-leads in the North, and when we set out to deliver this programming in Yellowknife, it was a no-brainer that she would be involved. And typical Kaylee, she just runs with a task and completely owns it,” says Katie Greenway, manager of women’s and girls’ hockey with Hockey Canada. “To have champions like Kaylee that dedicate themselves to their community and sport is so important.”

Giving back through coaching is just what Grant does—it’s like a hobby for her and she does it for others and to see more women in the sport, not for what it could bring to her.

“I’ve known Kaylee for a few years now and she has so much on her plate, but she never says no,” Greenway says. “She doesn’t do it for the accolades, but out of the goodness of her heart with a smile on her face. She’s fantastic and is really impacting everyone that she comes across.”

Grant’s impact on hockey in the North has been felt by many of the girls she has coached, mentored and played with over the past 12 years, but it’s the bigger picture that is most important to her.

“I’m not going to say that myself, individually, has drastically impacted female hockey in the North. I think I am a very small portion of what’s been going on in the North in the last 10 years,” Grant says. “I would like to think that I have helped develop more female coaches and I’ve been a good role model. I think if I have impacted hockey in the North, its pushing players to want to coach a little bit, but it’s a collective—everyone has left their mark on the female game.”

For Kugler, as the lone administrator for Hockey North, having volunteers like Kaylee is so critical to the work and development of hockey players.

“I think volunteers are essential for the delivery of anything in small communities in the North,” he says. “[Kaylee] takes on more than we even realize. Coaches have a huge influence on teams and athletes and she’s a positive role model and advocate for female hockey. She’s selfless with her time and she’s just an awesome person.”

Interested in becoming a coach? Visit HockeyCanada.ca/Coaching, or contact your local hockey association or Hockey Canada Member for more information.

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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
|
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
|
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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Canada vs. Sweden

Women’s Worlds Preview: Canada vs. Sweden

Thursday, April 11 | 5 p.m. ET | Utica, New York | Quarterfinal

Nicholas Pescod
|
April 10, 2024

GAME NOTES: CANADA VS. SWEDEN (APRIL 11)

It’s on to the playoffs for Canada’s National Women's Team as it takes on Sweden in quarterfinal action Thursday at the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship.

Last Game

Ann-Renée Desbiens was sensational on Monday night, making 29 saves, but Canada closed out the preliminary round in Utica with a 1-0 overtime loss to the United States to finish second in Group A. Laura Stacey and Natalie Spooner led the Canadian offence with four shots on goal apiece.

Like the Canadians, the Swedes are also coming into the quarters on the heels of a 1-0 defeat. Sweden dropped its final preliminary game against Germany on Monday, despite outshooting the Germans 32-24 —forward Lina Ljungblom had seven of the Swedes’ 32 shots.

Last Meeting 

Canada narrowly avoided the upset in the quarterfinals a year ago at Women’s Worlds in Brampton, escaping with a 3-2 victory thanks to overtime heroics from Sarah Nurse. Nurse scored a pair in that game, while Blayre Turnbull added the other for the Canadians, who finished with a 54-14 advantage in shots but ran up against a red-hot Emma Söderberg in the Swedish goal.

What to Watch 

The obvious storyline here is goaltending. Ann-Renée Desbiens was nothing short of terrific through the preliminary round, fashioning a tournament-leading .974 save percentage and 0.65 goals-against average through three starts, capped by a 29-save clinic against the Americans. And if Canada decides it wants to save Desbiens for the weekend, Emerance Maschmeyer is a heck of a backup; she was perfect in her lone prelim start against Switzerland, stopping all 12 shots she faced in a 3-0 win to post her sixth shutout in 13 all-time appearances at Women’s Worlds.

For the Swedes — Lina Ljungblom, Hilda Svensson, Hanna Olsson and Söderberg. Seventeen-year-old Svensson forced overtime against Canada a year ago, tying the game with just 10 seconds to go, and sits tied for second in goals (three) and tied for second in points (five) through the prelims. Svensson leads all players in shots with 29 and had the other goal in the quarterfinal defeat in Brampton. Meanwhile, Olsson owns a tournament-leading 72.15% faceoff percentage, which puts her slightly ahead of Marie-Philip Poulin, and Söderberg has been terrific again, allowing only four goals in three games.

A Look Back 

Canada remains unbeaten against the Swedes at Women’s Worlds, owning an 11-0 record. New York has also been historically good to Canada when it comes to playing Sweden; it owns a 4-1 record in the Empire State, with the last meeting occurring at the 2013 4 Nations Cup in Lake Placid. Natalie Spooner scored twice to help the Canadians to a 4-3 win.

All-time record: Canada leads 79-2-1
Canada goals: 509 
Sweden goals: 70 

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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
|
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
|
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
|
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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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]

Videos
Photos
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MWC: Highlights – SWE 4, CAN 2 (Bronze Medal)
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MWC: Highlights – SUI 3, CAN 2 SO (Semifinal)
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 6, SVK 3 (Quarterfinal)
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 4, CZE 3 OT (Preliminary)
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MWC: Remembering the wild ride in Riga
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Centennial: Highlights – Collingwood 1, Melfort 0 (Championship)
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 3, SUI 2 (Preliminary)
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 5, FIN 3 (Preliminary)
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NMT: Evason brings passion and pride to Prague
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MWC: Highlights – CAN 4, NOR 1 (Preliminary)
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Calgary Canucks (AJHL) vs. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL)| Centennial Cup
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Miramichi Timberwolves (MHL) vs. Collingwood Blues (OJHL)| Centennial Cup
Schedule
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Edmonton, Alta., Canada
Date: Aug 3 to 10