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U18 Worlds: Players to watch

6 US and Canadian players to watch at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship

Canadian netminder Kayle Osborne defends a shot from Finland’s Kiira Yrjanen.
IIHF

At the 2019 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, Canada secured the title with a 3-2 overtime win against the United States. It was Canada’s fifth gold medal in the tournament, and the first time in four years that the U.S. hadn’t come in first place. It goes without saying that the U.S. came in second, and Finland shutout Russia 3-0 to secure the bronze medal. Tournament play has already begun this year, with the United States topping Finland 4-1 and Canada squeezing past Russia with a 3-2 overtime win and dominating Finland 4-1.

Now, a number of players from those rosters are making their return this year as the tournament takes off in Bratislava, Slovakia, but there are a couple of newcomers you should keep your eye on as well.

Canada

Anne Cherkowski, Forward: Though this will only be her second tournament with Team Canada, Anne Cherkowski is a force to be reckoned with and a name you would do well to remember over the coming years. Already, she’s notched an assist at this year’s tournament (at which she is lettered as an alternate captain), and is backed up by two goals and one assist from last year. Cherkowski is a prolific scorer for her club back home in Kelowna, B.C., as well — she had 55 points in just 28 games last season, almost a 2 point per game average. In 2020, Cherkowski will be attending the University of Minnesota.

Maddi Wheeler, Forward: Erinsville, Ontario native Maddi Wheeler is competing in her second tournament for Team Canada, and looks to top her six points from last year. She’s already got a head start, too, with one goal so far this tournament. For the Kingston Jr. Ice Wolves, Wheeler’s totaled 25 points in 15 games so far this season, and though her ten PIM in the PWHL might make fans of Team Canada a little wary, she’s as disciplined as ever when it comes to wearing the maple leaf, with only one penalty on the international stage. Next year, she’ll take her talents to the NCAA and play for the University of Wisconsin.

Marianne Picard, Forward: At seventeen, Marianne Picard is making her international debut for Team Canada at this year’s U18 Women’s World Championship. Though she’s a rookie when it comes to wearing the maple leaf, she’s a seasoned and trustworthy point producer, tallying 15 points in 14 games so far this season for Stanstead College. In 2021, Picard will travel south of the border and suit up in the red and white for the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

Kendall Cooper, Defender: Kendall Cooper is returning to Team Canada for the second time, and this year she’s the captain. With two assists in five games last year, she’s not as focused on scoring as she is on making plays and generating chances for her teammates, and that’s something that Team Canada could benefit greatly from moving forward in the tournament. At 5’8”, Cooper is also taller than much of the competition, but whether she uses her size to her advantage is yet to be determined. Next season, she’ll join the Quinnipiac Bobcats’ blue line to start her collegiate career.

Nicole Gosling, Defender: Few defenders are as offensively prolific as Nicole Gosling. In her second year donning the maple leaf, she’s already matched her point total from last year’s tournament, and her stats sheet shows she doesn’t plan on stopping. With 28 points in 33 games for the London Devilettes of the PWHL last year, Gosling is a player you want on the ice if you’re looking to score. She’ll begin her collegiate career next year at Clarkson University.

IIHF

Kayle Osborne, Goaltender: Kayle Osborne is making her international debut for Team Canada this year, but don’t fret, because the numbers she’s posted in the PWHL are nothing but promising. Over the past three seasons, she’s averaged a .943 save percentage for the Ottawa Lady Senators, and led the league in save percentage last year with a .950 on the season. Next year, Osborne will head to Hamilton, New York, to join the Colgate Raiders.

USA

Abbey Murphy, Forward: Though she’s only seventeen, Abbey Murphy may as well be a veteran presence on the USA offense — this will be her third year suiting up for her native country, and it’s sure to be another big one. In ten games over two international tournaments, Murphy has totaled eleven points, and already has a goal under her belt this year. The WCHA better watch out too, because in 2020, Murphy will lace up her skates as a Golden Gopher for the University of Minnesota.

Clara Van Wieren, Forward: Seventeen year old Clara Van Wieren is as feisty as they come, and brings a spark to the American roster that is often needed. With 42 PIM in 33 games at Shattuck St. Mary’s, Van Wieren isn’t afraid to get gritty. However, she’s got the moves to back up her somewhat unconventional style of play, having tallied 41 points on the season thus far. This year will be her second time lacing up for the U.S., but hopefully it won’t be her last. With one goal already under her belt so far this year, Van Wieren is a name you’ll want to remember if you’re a fan of the red, white, and blue. Next year, she’ll join the Bulldogs at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Ella Huber, Forward: For the first time in her career, Ella Huber will don the red, white, and blue and represent the USA on an international stage. An Illinois native and Chicago Mission product, she’s already familiar with some of her teammates on Team USA, so she’s sure to slot into the lineup nicely. During the 2018-2019 season, Huber totaled 34 points in just 10 games for New Trier High School, while racking up only 2 PIM. She’ll join Murphy at the University of Minnesota in 2021. A disciplined skater and an offensive spark plug, Huber is a name to keep on your radar if you’re interested in the future of USA Hockey.

Haley Winn, Defender: Sixteen-year-old Haley Winn joins Team USA for her second year, and looks to make a name for herself on the international stage. With three assists at last year’s tournament, Winn is a puck-moving defender with her eyes set on the prize. Already this year, she’s tallied one assist on Abbey Murphy’s opening goal. In two years, Winn will be attending Clarkson University.

Maggie Nicholson, Defender: With a gold and silver medal from the last two years already under her belt, Maggie Nicholson doesn’t have to prove to USA Hockey how good of a player she is. She has 58 points over the last four seasons at Minnetonka High, and is set to join the University of Minnesota’s roster next year. Already this tournament, she has one assist on Audrey Wethington’s goal late in the second period of the game against Finland.

Skylar Vetter, Goaltender: Sixteen-year-old Skylar Vetter makes her return between the pipes as USA Hockey’s premier up and coming netminder. Vetter, a Lakeville, Minnesota, native who’s committed to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 2020-2021 season, recorded a .922 save percentage and allowed the second fewest goals (8) in the 2019 tournament. She was named one of the top three players on the U.S. roster last year.

You can watch the games streamed by the IIHF here!