Photo: Matt Murnaghan/Hockey Canada
Photo: Matt Murnaghan/Hockey Canada

Team Canada will face rival Team USA to open women’s hockey worlds

On Friday, Team Canada will face off against their chief rivals and this year’s hosts, Team USA, to begin the IIHF Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan.

Canada’s National Women’s Team is eyeing its record 11th gold medal in 18 tournaments since the worlds were first held in 1990. This year’s gold medal game will take place on April 7.

The 23-woman roster features a slew of experienced veterans, with more than 1200 international games played between them. There are 16 players returning from last year’s team that won silver after falling in overtime to Team USA by a 1-0 score. Only four Canadians are making their world championship debuts: forwards Laura Stacey and Sarah Potomak as well as defencemen Erin Ambrose and Renata Fast.

Team Canada Roster

At 19 years old, Potomak is the youngest member of the squad while two-time Olympic gold medallist Meaghan Mikkelson is the oldest at 32 years. She is one of 13 players who were on the gold medal-winning team at Sochi 2014.

Veteran goalie Shannon Szabados is making her second return to the red and white since that gold medal in Sochi. In December 2016, Szabados helped Canada secure two wins against Team USA in the inaugural December Series. She is no stranger to the world championships, participating in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Other veterans expected to play a significant role in Canada’s quest for gold include three-time Olympic gold medallist Meghan Agosta, two-time Olympic champions Rebecca Johnston and Marie-Philip Poulin as well as Sochi 2014 gold medallists Natalie Spooner and Brianne Jenner.

Canada last captured gold at the IIHF Women’s World Championships in 2012, defeating Team USA 5-4 in overtime. However, the rivalry goes way back. Both teams have the same number of world championship medals – 17 – but the Canadians have three more gold medals. In fact, the gold medal game has only ever featured the cross-border rivals.

After their opening night showdown to begin the preliminary round, Canada will play a strong Finnish team on April 1. Finland has won 11 bronze medals at the worlds, most recently in 2015. Canada finishes the preliminary round on April 3 against last year’s bronze medallists, Russia.

IIHF Women’s World Championship Schedule

The semifinals will take place on April 6, the day before the medal games.

All of Team Canada’s games will be broadcast on TSN.