Erin Ambrose has slowly but surely become a major player in women's hockey. Ambrose is just 23, but in the past year she made her Worlds debut with Hockey Canada, where she won a silver medal, and then was named to Canada's centralization roster for the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.
But if you've been following Ambrose's career, her success shouldn't be a surprise. Though she's still got rookie status at Hockey Canada's most senior level, Ambrose has been a top talent at every level. She spent three years playing for Canada's U-18 team, collecting three medals along the way (two gold, one silver), and has also competed on the U-22 development team and has also played in the Four Nations Cup.
Her hardware doesn't stop at just the international level — she also won a national championship with Clarkson University when she was a sophomore. Her individual accolades speak for herself - as both a sophomore and a junior, she was nominated for the Patty Kazmaier award, given to the top NCAA player in the nation, and made the top 10 in voting as a sophomore, the same year her team won the national title.
Currently, she's a staple of the blue line for the Toronto Furies in the CWHL (though she won't be joining the team at least for the start of this season because of centralization).
As a freshman at Clarkson, Ambrose earned the rookie of the year title for her team and finished with the most points in the ECAC for all freshmen and won the ECAC rookie of the year.
Ambrose's most productive season was her sophomore year at Clarkson. As a second-year in college, she picked up 50 points in 37 games as a defender...not easy to do. She led all defenders in points and was a co-winner of the ECAC Best Defenseman award, named to the ECAC First All-American team and was nominated for her first Patty Kaz award, making the top ten.
From there, her numbers remained fairly steady, and she recorded 23 and 28 points, respectively her junior and senior seasons. This led Clarkson defenders in scoring both years. She was also an alternate captain for both those seasons and was nominated for the Patty Kaz again her junior year.
Once she graduated, she was drafted seventh overall in the second round of the CWHL Draft by the Toronto Furies, joining former Clarkson teammate Renata Fast (who also made the 2017 Worlds roster and Canada's centralization roster).
Her production dipped slightly when she hit the pros with the Furies - she has yet to score her first professional goal, recording eight assists in 17 games with Toronto. That's likely a testament to Ambrose adjusting to a new team, new coach, and new league with a significantly higher caliber of player than the NCAA can offer.
At the international level, Ambrose has been in Hockey Canada's system for a few years now. She was a member of several gold-medal winning teams at the U-18 level, was named the Best Defenseman at the 2011 tournament, and also played at the U-22 development level. She was a member of the 2016 Four Nations Cup team and has played in a number of exhibitions throughout her career.
Ambrose's long history with Hockey Canada at the U-18 and development level should mean only good things for her future internationally. How she plays at Olympics this year may be the best indicator of where she slots into Hockey Canada's plans moving forward.
She's shown, in a very small sample size, that she can compete at the senior level. In five games at Worlds, she recorded a goal and and an assist, not bad for a rookie on a team with more veteran blueliners like Meaghan Mikkelson and Jocelyne Larocque, among others.
Her performance has clearly shown to Hockey Canada that she's able to handle the responsibility of playing consistently at that level, which is why she now finds herself at centralization. If she can stay there -- Canada invited 28 players and will need to whittle that down to 23 — it will be a good indicator that she's part of HC's long-term plans.
As far as the Furies go, unless she gets a full-time job that would require her to give up playing in the CWHL, it seems certain that she'll be part of that crew for a long time. It wouldn't be surprising if she eventually ended up wearing a letter for Toronto down the road.
She's a steady presence at the blue line, and her consistency is one of her strong suits. She's been described by previous coaches as an all-around player without many holes in her game, and that's something that teams value quite a bit on their blue line.
Is this ranking too high or too low?
Frankly, Ambrose is a player who can sometimes get lost, especially with other players like Renata Fast stealing the spotlight. But, she's one of the more reliable players on this roster and shouldn't be undervalued. She could almost certainly get bumped up a couple of spots, but again, this is a list that's loaded with talent. As she gets older and sees more ice time, she may be able to crack the Top 20.