clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2019 World Championship Preview: Canada

In a moment of great uncertainty, Team Canada will seek its first gold medal since 2012.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 6 - United States v Canada Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Schedule

Team Canada is in group A with Finland, USA, Switzerland, and Russia.

  • April 4, 9:00 a.m. ET | Canada vs Switzerland
  • April 6, 12:30 p.m. ET | Canada vs USA
  • April 8, 12:30 p.m. ET | Canada vs Russia
  • April 9, 12:30 p.m. ET | Canada vs Finland

Roster

  • Forwards: Rebecca Johnston, Laura Stacey, Jillian Saulnier, Mélodie Daoust, Brianne Jenner, Sarah Nurse, Natalie Spooner, Emily Clark, Marie-Philip Poulin, Loren Gabel, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Blayre Turnbull, Jamie Lee Rattray
  • Defenders: Jocelyne Larocque, Brigette Lacquette, Laura Fortino, Renata Fast, Erin Ambrose, Jaime Bourbonnais, Micah Zandee-Hart
  • Goalies: Shannon Szabados, Geneviève Lacasse, Emerance Maschmeyer
  • Head coach: Perry Pearn

Players to Watch

Poulin led the CWHL in goals this season and was second in assists.
Michelle Jay

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin came off her fourth CWHL season with Les Canadiennes de Montreal hot, leading the league with 50 points and bringing her team to the league championship. She also won three awards for her spectacular season. Needless to say, great things are expected of Poulin, which is business as usual. What’s uncertain is whether or not she will be playing this week in Espoo at all: Poulin sustained a knee injury during her last regular season game and didn’t dress at all during Montreal’s playoff run. Her ability to compete in Espoo remains up in the air. Poulin is a huge offensive component of Canada’s past successes, and playing without her scoring or her leadership will certainly be a challenge.

This year’s Patty Kazmaier winner Loren Gabel will make her international debut at this tournament. Gabel just finished a terrific senior year at Clarkson, where she led the nation with 40 goals and came second only to teammate Elizabeth Giguère in points. Gabel has been an astoundingly good offensive presence on Clarkson’s roster and will hopefully continue developing her skills at a professional level next season, since she drafted by the Buffalo Beauts earlier this year.

Her numbers are impressive now, but Gabel’s international career is just beginning. She’s already played with most of this roster at Four Nations where she made two points, including an assist in the tournament final. She will no doubt be a huge presence on Canada’s roster in upcoming years, and Espoo will give her a chance to start showing us how she’ll adapt to being on the team under high stakes.

Jaime Bourbonnais will be another young gun to watch out for in Finland. In fact, the Cornell defender is currently the youngest player on the roster at only 20 years old. She’s a handy offensive-defender and finished her junior year with 29 points, making her the highest-scoring defender on Cornell’s roster.

Like Gabel and the other young blood getting their start this tournament, she’ll be seeking to make herself a permanent fixture on Canada’s roster. She already stood out at Four Nations when she scored one of Canada’s two goals in the gold medal match of that tournament (assisted by Gabel, no less), and she’ll continue to show her skill alongside a roster that includes two of her Cornell teammates.

Last Year

This past year was not the greatest one for Canada’s international competition. After losing to the United States during the last Worlds in 2017, Canada headed to the 2018 Olympics and made it through a grueling gold medal game against the States again, only to lose the gold in a shootout. That being said, although Canada’s been on a silver streak, it’s been a close one.

Since then, Canada and the States have been back-and-forth. The latter won the gold at the Four Nations tournament in 2018; the former came back and won the three-game Rivalry Series against Team USA earlier this year. Although the States have come out on top as the current defenders of the gold, Canada’s more recent victories mean that could soon change.

Needless to say, after a few major losses against its biggest rival, Canada has something to prove during this tournament.

Storylines

This tournament doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so it would be negligent to say that the recent announcement that the CWHL will cease operations in May will have no affect on the competition. Much of the roster is in a tricky spot: 18 players were a part of the league this year, and most of the others are students who might have had plans to join in the future.

This puts major pressure on these players. No matter what happens during this tournament, no one can deny that anything that Canada does, win or lose, will be tempered by this awful news. After April 14, a majority of the team will not know when they’ll be playing again, and that will certainly have an impact on how the team plays. Winning gold might be a way to take the edge off of that loss and show that these players still have a future in hockey.

This major announcement, combined with Poulin’s continued absence and an influx of young players (six of whom are making their international debuts) mean that Team Canada might be more of a wildcard this time around than in years past.

Roadblocks aside, Canada is still the international powerhouse we know and love (or love to hate). They not only have a wickedly talented roster of both younger talent and seasoned veterans, but also a very compelling reason to want to win this one.