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Four Nations NCAA and U Sports Player Guide

Bright NCAA and U Sports talent head to Finland to make youthful mark

Team USA’s Lee Stecklein handles the puck at the 2014 Winter Olympics
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Europe

Out of the teams set to face off against each other in the 2016 Four Nations Cup from November 1-5 in Vierumaki, Finland, there will be a combined 10 NCAA or U Sports (CIS was recently rebranded) players participating. Joining elite women’s talent such as Hilary Knight and Marie-Philip Poulin will be eight NCAA and two U Sports players.

McGill University’s Mélodie Daoust and Boston College’s Megan Keller look to pace the forward and defensive group offensively, respectively. The University of Vermont’s Saana Valkama is a dark horse forward who might emerge as an unexpected scorer on this platform for Team Finland.

Get to know these young(er) athletes a little bit better before the games begin:

Mélodie Daoust, F, McGill University (U Sports) — Team Canada

The fifth-year Martlet recently recorded her 100th career CIS goal against Harvard University. Daoust has played in two Four Nations Cups already and is decorated internationally, helping Team Canada secure gold medals at the 2010 IIHF World Women’s U18 Tournament, the 2013 Four Nations Cup and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

2016-17 Stats: 10GP - 7G - 7A - 14PTS - 6PIM

Venla Hovi, F, University of Manitoba (U Sports) — Team Finland

The third-year Bisons forward is 28 years old and comes to the tournament well traveled. Before accruing experience in Finnish National Women’s League with HPK, Ilves, and KalPa, she played one year for Niagara University in the NCAA. She has a bronze medal with Team Finland in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

2016-17 Stats: 6GP - 2G - 5A - 7PTS - 4PIM

Megan Keller, D, Boston College (NCAA) — Team USA

BC’s assistant captain, and a potential first-round 2017 NWHL Draft pick, Keller won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship. She was the program’s fastest defenseman to reach both 50 and 75 points.

2016-17 Stats: 8GP - 1G - 6A - 7PTS - 12PIM

Anna Kilponen, D, University of North Dakota (NCAA) — Team Finland

Kilponen is a first-pairing WCHA defender whose partner is 2016 NWHL Draft pick Halli Krzyzaniak. She has skated with Team Finland at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and played in three IIHF Women’s World Championships (2012, 2013, 2015), as well as three U18 Women's World Championships (2011-13).

2016-17 Stats: 8GP - 1G - 2A - 3PTS - 0PIM

Maria Lindh, F, University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA) — Team Sweden

The 5’9’’ junior from Stockholm is a Rikserrien Champion (2011) with experience playing in the 2014 Winter Olympics. She has 67 career points in the SDHL.

2016-17 Stats: 8GP - 0G - 1A - 1PT - 6PIM

Michelle Löwenhielm, F, University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA) — Team Sweden

Löwenhielm led Team Sweden to three bronze medals at the U18s (2010, 2012, 2013). Just like Bulldog and Swedish teammate Maria Lindh, she also won a Rikserrien championship of her own in 2013.

2016-17 Stats: 8GP - 0G - 1A - 1PT - 2PIM

Annie Pankowski, F, University of Wisconsin (NCAA) — Team USA

The 2014-15 National Rookie of the Year played a large role in Team USA’s 2016 gold medal at the IIHF Women’s World Championships, scoring a goal and three assists in five games played.

2016-2017 Stats: 8GP - 0G - 6A - 6PTS - 8PIM

Lee Stecklein, D, University of Minnesota (NCAA) — Team USA

Stecklein is a defensive tower who comes with international maturity despite being in college. As the youngest team member, she spent the entire 2013-2014 season training with the USNWT and earned a silver in the 2014 Winter Olympics. She started participating with USA Hockey as a National Development Camp player when she was just 14 years old.

2016-17 Stats: 8GP - 0G - 5A - 5PTS - 6PIM

Vilma Tanskanen, F, University of North Dakota (NCAA) — Team Finland

The sophomore forward has found a place on the Fighting Hawks second line with center Kayla Gardner and right winger Rebekah Kolstad. She participated in the 2015 IIHF Women's World Championship and 2014 Winter Olympics.

2016-17 Stats: 8GP - 1G - 1A - 2PTS - 2PIM

Saana Valkama, F, University of Vermont (NCAA) — Team Finland

Valkama represented Team Finland at the 2014 Four Nations Cup, in addition to multiple U18 Women's World Championships and IIHF Women’s World Championships. She held a leadership position as assistant captain at the U18 level and was named a Top-Three Player for Team Finland in the 2011 U18s.

2016-17 Stats: 6P - 1G - 4A - 5PTS - 6PIM