Canada’s Women’s National Team will face off against the PWHPA all-stars Thursday and Saturday of this week. The games are part of the national teams’ training camp and exhibition tour facing off against a variety of teams preparing for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Canadian National Team
In October, 29 Canadian women came together for the national team centralisation. The training camp is meant to determine and prepare the team for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. The roster has since been cut down to 26 but will need to be reduced to 23 over the coming weeks.
In addition to training, the Canadians have been playing exhibition games against other national programs and local junior teams. Team Canada found success early in their exhibition schedule beating the United States twice in October and Finland three times. Now, they are coming off a frustrating string of losses. Canada lost to the United States twice in November followed by five losses in a round robin tournament with three Canadian national U17 teams.
This week’s games will serve as an opportunity for the Canadian national team to reset, playing against another women’s team. Two more forwards will likely be cut before the Olympics in 2022 making these games a potential opportunity for those forwards to prove their worth.
Much of Canada’s scoring thus far has come from just two players, Sarah Fillier and Marie-Philip Poulin with eight and nine points respectively. Fillier has also scored three of Canada’s four total power play goals. Other players who can prove themselves as offensive producers this weekend will look favourable to the managers selecting the team moving forward to 2022. Expect to see a variety of players given the opportunity to impress this weekend.
PWHPA All Stars
On the other side will be twenty PWHPA players, many former national team members, selected to face off with the Canadian team. These players will be eager to perform, proving they can keep up with the best players in the world. The offence will be led by three PWHPA stars: Loren Gabel, Brittany Howard, and Anne Pankowski.
Loren Gabel scored at a 1.33 points per game at Clarkson University where she won two national NCAA titles. She played seven games with the national team in 2019 but has fallen out of favour. A surprise omission from the national team camp, Gabel has kept her talent in the PWHPA this year. She played a strong two games in Truro and will be looking to add to her goal total this weekend.
Howard is a centre who has never made a national roster but has the skillset to keep up with the top players. Her sharp shot allowed her to score 79 goals in four college seasons and she continues to make an impact scoring big goals for Toronto in the PWHPA. She’s a powerful player capable of leading the team’s strong offence.
One of four Americans, Pankowski, is another player who has lost favour with the American national program in recent years. She was a dominant force in college at Wisconsin, being named a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award three times and playing with the US in three world championships. She failed to make the 2018 Olympic team and her production has slowed since she graduated in 2019. Pankowski will benefit from playing with other speedy players like Loren Gabel and can be expected to threaten the Canadian defence regularly.
The defence will be led by proven Olympic superstars, Brigette Lacquette and Laura Fortino. The two made their national team debut at the 2008 World Junior Championship where they both scored a goal and an assist. Fortino won gold at the 2014 Olympics, and both were on the team that won silver in 2018. Though they’ve been replaced by younger players on the 2022 Olympic team, these two will command the ice for the PWHPA team creating offensive opportunities.
Tickets to the two games sold out until more tickets were added Monday. Those attending the games are asked to bring a donation of a non-perishable food item or a new unwrapped toy. The games will be streamed on Hockey Canada’s site.
PWHPA All-Star Roster
Scotiabank: Brigette Lacquette, Halli Krzyzaniak, Katelyn Gosling, Samantha Cogan, Amanda Pelkey, Sarah Potomak
Sonnet: Laura Fortino, Kassidy Sauvé, Nicole Kosta, Loren Gabel, Brittany Howard
Harvey’s: Catherine Daoust, Karell Emard, Sarah Lefort, Alexandra Labelle, Rebecca Leslie
Adidas: Shea Tiley, Sophia Shaver, Annie Pankowski
Bauer: Alexa Gruschow