Thompson had a season for the ages with Team Canada. I’m weary of calling it a breakout season since those who were paying close attention know she’s had one of those already at Princeton, showing her potential as a future national team star. This year, she just cemented that potential, and woke up everyone else to her elite skills on the blue line.
From the outset during Worlds last August, Thompson featured heavily into Team Canada’s plans on defense. She was regularly a part of the top-four and power play, and for good reason: with her vision and feel for the puck, she moves it really well both up the ice and in the offensive zone. Thompson developed into an excellent off-the-rush defender in college as well, and she showed she could efficiently handle regular defensive duties with the national team.
All of that translated into an absolutely stellar Olympics for Thompson. Canada was firing on all offensive cylinders in Beijing, but Thompson’s individual numbers were no fluke. For years, we’ve seen her take up the mantle as a No. 1 D in the NCAA and flourish, driving play forward while shutting down opponents. She wasn’t tasked with the same role for the Olympic team, but those skills came in handy. She regularly made plays to keep pucks alive, feed forwards down low, and whistle shots through traffic up high and into the net.
CANADA GOALLLLLL— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) August 20, 2021
Claire Thompson puts it on net and Jenner and Ambrose are both in exactly the right spot for a double deflect
3-2 Canada, their first lead of the game pic.twitter.com/zKAyIos4JH
Thompson broke an Olympic record for point scoring by a defender by tallying nine—and then shattered it by tallying up 13 points by the tournament’s end. She led all defenders in Beijing with two goals and 11 assists, helping Team Canada to a well-deserved gold medal.
- She was named to the Media All-Star Team at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
- She won an Olympic gold medal with Canada’s 2022 Olympic Women’s Team and a gold medal at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
- She was named an All-ECAC First Team honoree in 2018-19 and an All-ECAC Third Team honoree in 2019-20.
- She helped Princeton capture their first ECAC Tournament championship in 2019-20 and earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
- She was one of 12 finalists for the ECAC’s Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete of the Year Award in 2019-20.
- She was named Second Team All-Ivy twice in her college career and First Team All-Ivy as a junior in 2018-19.
What comes next
More of the same, hopefully. Thompson’s already proven she can be a major contributor for Canada, not just at the senior team level, but at the Olympics. It doesn’t get any bigger than that. Canada is a notoriously deep group, but she should continue to feature in the national team’s plans. She’s also trained and played with the PWHPA’s Toronto team as well between college and centralization, so it seems a safe bet she’ll be involved in whatever comes next for their group.
Too high or too low
This is a perfect ranking, to me. Zero complaints to file. She’s a defender with strong puck-moving abilities who’s reliable defensively at the highest levels of the game, making her a super valuable player. In her last year of eligibility for this list and after an incredible performance on the world stage, Thompson belongs right at the top.