Marie-Philip Poulin and Natalie Spooner will headline Canada’s 23-player roster for next month’s IIHF Women’s World Championship, Canada Hockey announced Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Three goaltenders, 13 forwards and seven defensive players will feature for the defending champion and host. View the complete roster here.
- Danielle Serdachny is the only player set to make her world championship debut, while 18 players who were part of the 2022 gold medal team will compete again this year.
- The 31-game schedule will begin on April 5; Canada plays Switzerland on the first day. The quarterfinals start April 13, the semifinals start April 15 and the gold medal game will take place April 16.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Canada is back
This roster — with respect to Poulin, the best player in the world — is highlighted by Spooner.
Spooner missed the last women’s worlds while pregnant with her first child, a son named Rory. She gave birth less than three months ago and she’s already back on the national team. Spooner, 32, got back on the ice for the first time four weeks postpartum. She played in the PWHPA showcases in Tampa and Washington DC over the last two weeks. Canada head coach Troy Ryan was in the stands in DC and must have seen enough in Spooner to get her back into the fold, which is not unsurprising. Spooner has been on the national team since the 2011 women’s worlds and has established herself as one of the best power forwards in the game. At the 2021 worlds in Calgary, Spooner was on a dominant line with Mélodie Daoust and Sarah Fillier, and I’ll be curious to see if Fillier and Spooner reunite in the top six.
A few other players are back on this roster after missing the last tournament in Denmark; Rebecca Johnston has played well in the PWHPA, and although she’s currently injured, is back on the team. She’s one of the most decorated and longest-tenured active players on the national team and a staple on the third line with Blayre Turnbull and Emily Clark. It wasn’t a guarantee that Claire Thompson’s medical school schedule would have allowed her to be on the worlds roster either — she missed the last tournament to get adjusted as a first-year student at NYU — but she’s officially back on Team Canada, and the team will be better for it.
“We love having her back,” Renata Fast told The Athletic. “Her on-ice presence speaks for itself, she plays the game so aggressively, which is the way we want to play. She has the fitness to get up in the play, she’s very offensive minded and that’s something we rely on from her – of course we saw it at the Olympics. The off-ice presence is huge too. She’s just so calm, cool, collected and a fun girl to have around the locker room.” — Salvian
New face on the roster
Serdachny is a pleasant surprise on this roster — and maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise at all. The senior at Colgate University is having a massive season for one of the top teams (No. 3) in the NCAA with a nation-leading 70 points in 29 games. She’s been named a finalist for the Patty Kazmier trophy, awarded to the best player in women’s college hockey, and will face off in the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
She was a big piece of the gold medal-winning U18 team in 2019, but has not been on a major national team roster since. This will be her senior national team debut. — Salvian
Notable roster omissions
A few omissions of note: Jesse Eldridge, Victoria Bach and Sarah Potomak are out on forward. While Ashton Bell and Meaghan Mikkelson are out of the blue line. Each player was on the 2022 worlds team that won gold in Denmark. Potomak, Bach and Eldridge have each been excellent in college and the PWHPA, they also spent a lot of time moving up and down the lineup while on the senior team and didn’t quite establish their respective roles.
Mikkelson, most notably, returned to the national team after recovering from a catastrophic knee injury just before Olympic centralization. She’s now 38 years old and still playing with the PWHPA. It is not uncommon in a new Olympic quad — the four years between tournaments — for the coaching staff to opt for younger players, ensuring they get proper reps on the team before the Olympics. — Salvian
The competition will take place at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ont.
Canada enters the tournament as the favorite, having won the last two women’s world championships (2021 and 2022) and the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Ten teams will compete at the event: Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
Group A will be comprised of Canada, the Czech Republic, Japan, Switzerland and the U.S. Group B will be Finland, France, Germany, Hungary and Sweden.
Canada and the United States will face off in the group stage on April 10 at 7 p.m. ET. Next year will mark the 22nd edition of the tournament in which Canada has won a record 12 gold medals, ahead of the Americans’ nine.
What they’re saying
“Our staff had some very difficult decisions selecting this roster and that speaks to the depth that we have within our program,” Ryan said in a release. “We are confident that we have assembled a talented roster with a great deal of character and leadership. Our entire staff is excited to have the opportunity to work with each of these athletes as we begin this journey toward a World Championship.”
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(Photo: Rob Schumacher / USA Today)