Twenty-eight players have been selected to gather in Calgary this summer to begin preparations for the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing. The roster includes three goalkeepers, nine defenders and 16 forwards. Fourteen of those players helped Canada win the silver medal at the 2018 Olympics.
Players and staff will be moving to Calgary in July to begin the centralization process and prepare for the upcoming IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship, which will take place August 20-31 at a location yet to be announced. The final Olympic list is expected to be revealed in December.
“Bringing our group together now is really a huge step forward,” Gina Kingsbury, director of Canada’s National Women’s Team, told TSN. “This will give us the opportunity to build our team in the future. We are really looking forward to this moment together.
The selection process was unique this year. Due to COVID-19, there has only been one World Championship since the 2018 Olympics (in 2019). Last year’s tournament was canceled, and this year’s women’s world championships were postponed to August after initially being scheduled for Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia this month.
“It was a challenge for everyone involved,” Kingsbury said. “Obviously we are not the only sport to have been affected by the pandemic, but for women’s hockey it has been a test for the past two years.
“In many ways, I think the periodization of this whole process has been undone by the pandemic,” said Cheryl Pounder, two-time Olympic gold medalist and TSN hockey analyst. “It was difficult to assess and assess.”
Many Canadian players have had their ice time limited over the past year, and even fewer have played in meaningful games – with the exception of NCAA players. The Canadian Professional Hockey Players Association teams have not played for more than a year due to the pandemic. Teams from Calgary, Toronto and Montreal are scheduled to compete in a Canadian leg of the PWHPA Dream Gap Tour May 24-30 in Calgary.
Hockey Canada has hosted two camps this year for player evaluation.
“I wish Hockey Canada would be able to accept more players, given the situation, because the evaluation process was interrupted due to the lack of play and the lack of meaningful competition over the past few years,” Pounder said.
While the list includes many big names like Marie-Philip Poulin, Mélodie Daoust and Renata Fast, there are also several notable omissions and inclusions. Here are three of the biggest surprises.
Kristen Campbell on Geneviève Lacasse
Kristen Campbell, 23, was one of three goalies selected, along with Ann-Renée Desbiens and Emerance Maschmeyer. Campbell, who has yet to make Canada at the senior level, was chosen in place of veteran Geneviève Lacasse.
Lacasse has nearly a decade of international experience. She won two Olympic medals, including gold at the 2014 Games in Sochi, and won five medals at the world championships.
Of the six goalies who were part of Canada’s most recent camp, Lacasse was the only goaltender to win a world title, winning gold in 2012. She also lifted the Clarkson Cup twice. and was named CHLF Goalkeeper of the Year in 2013..
“Genevieve has been a flagship of the program for a long period of time,” said Pounder. “For her, she will surely be missed. She is a player who brings a lot of spirit. She has the ability to get into a cold game and get the job done, as well as getting started.
Campbell is somewhat of an unknown entity, at least internationally. She represented Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship, making her only appearance in the tournament in a 3-2 victory over Russia.
But like many of her Canadian teammates, Campbell hasn’t seen much time on the ice in the past year. His final year with Wisconsin in 2020 was cut short due to the pandemic. She had joined the Badgers after being forced to transfer from North Dakota after the university abandoned its women’s hockey program.
“As we approach an Olympic year, you recognize that there will only be so many goalkeepers involved and you recognize that it will be a challenge. It will always be a fight, ”Pounder said.
Campbell, a native of Brandon, Man., Prospered with the Badgers. In 2018, she was among the 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Prize, awarded each year to the best college player in female hockey. The following year, she supported Wisconsin in the NCAA Championship.
But Campbell hasn’t had many opportunities to prove herself since her college career came to an abrupt end in 2020. She is currently a member of the Scotiabank team in the Calgary area of PWHPA.
Patty Kazmaier Missing Winners
The three Canadians who most recently won the Patty Kazmaier Award – awarded annually to the best female hockey player in NCAA Division I – are not on the centralization list: forwards Élizabeth Giguère, Loren Gabel and Daryl Watts.
Watts and Gabel are particularly noteworthy omissions. Watts, who was the first freshman to win the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2018, was also one of three finalists for the honor this year, ultimately losing to US goalie Aerin Frankel. Watts led the nation this season with 1.71 points per game, and she scored the OT winner for Wisconsin in the NCAA Championship game.
“She’s a prolific goalscorer. She has the ability to put the puck in the net, ”said Pounder. “She’s a young player who, in my opinion, has a good trajectory, especially in the offensive zone.
Kingsbury told TSN’s Frank Seravalli in March that Hockey Canada had “[their] eyeing Daryl for a moment.
“I’m cautiously optimistic because it’s a different pace at a higher level, but we’re excited to see where it compares better and better with some of the best players in the world,” Kingsbury said.
Gabel, who won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2019, was Canada’s star at the 2019 world championship. She was tied with Natalie Spooner for the team lead with six goals, including two in the medal game. bronze against Russia, which Canada won 7-0. She also played for Canada in the 2019-20 Rivalry Series against the United States, registering a goal in the final game.
Gabel is Clarkson University’s all-time top scorer with 116 goals and 213 points in 160 games. She also holds the school record for most goals in a season, scoring 40 in her senior year in 2018-19.
“They’re young and they’re that offensive gift to put the puck in the net,” Pounder said of Gabel and Watts. “These are two players that I’m surprised were left out.”
Pounder also noted the likelihood of this year’s evaluation camps being heavier than usual due to lack of playing time, which could also have contributed to the decision to take out Watts and Gabel.
“The assessment process was slowed down, so a lot depended on these particular camps,” she said. “When you form a team, you look at the combinations – who goes well together and what that looks like.”
Veterans absent in defense
Canada’s centralization list is also missing several notable Blue Line veterans: Laura Fortino, Brigette Lacquette and Lauriane Rougeau. All three were part of the Olympic team that won the silver medal in 2018.
Fortino has been a member of the senior squad since 2011 and won gold with Canada at the 2014 Olympics. She competed in six world championships and helped her country win the title in 2012, where she was also named tournament star.
Lacquette and Rougeau have combined for more than 100 games with the national team. Rougeau was also part of the gold medal team at the 2014 Olympics, and she won five medals at the world championships, including gold in 2012.
Lacquette has been a mainstay of the team since 2015 and finished with a plus-7 odds at the 2019 World Championship, second only to Renata Fast among Canadian defensemen.
“These three athletes have been strong – the PK with Rougeau, the shooting with Lacquette and the mobility of Fortino,” said Pounder. “I think it makes you recognize how difficult this process is to actually break that lineup because of the depth in this country. It is a very difficult day for those who are not elected and it is an exciting day for those who are.
The three exclusions leave Canada with a significantly less experienced blueline. Only three of the nine defenders named in the roster have previous Olympic experience: Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson and Fast.
“We also have to look to the future. Must watch 2026 [Olympics] and beyond, ”Kingsbury said. “We can’t forget the experience and what it brings to our list. I really like the mix. We have brought in young athletes who are mature and ready to play a role for us… and we have brought in veterans who I know will lead the way, take the lead and be a force in our training.