Hockey Canada on Tuesday announced its 23-player women’s roster for next month’s Beijing Olympics, which includes Victoria Bach and Kristin O’Neill in the final cut, as well as veteran defenseman Meghan Mickelson.
Led by captain Mary-Philippe Paulin and fellow forward Rebecca Johnston – each of whom will represent their country at the fourth Winter Games – Canada captured gold in Beijing after dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to the United States at the 2018 Olympics. wants to do Finals in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
But the Canadian women captured their first world championships in nearly a decade last August, with Pollin, two-time Olympic champion, scoring the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the US.
Canada, which includes three goalscorers, seven defensemen and 13 forwards, opens the Olympic tournament’s preliminary round on 3 February against Switzerland, a day before the opening ceremony. The gold medal game is February 16.
“It is always extremely difficult to narrow down the roster for the last group of players selected to wear the Maple Leaf at the Olympic Winter Games,” Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan said in a news release. “We started with 29 athletes, reflecting the depth of the talent pool that has been a part of our entire journey, and we are excited to have the 23 players selected to represent Canada.
“During this four-year Olympic cycle we have faced many challenges, and our staff and leadership group have done an incredible job preparing our athletes for Beijing. I am very proud of the team we have assembled And looking forward to this opportunity. Compete for the gold medal.”
The Canadian women have played 27 games at the World Championships since July, and against the American and Finnish women’s, men’s junior A and under-17 teams and the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.
The nine-match rivalry series against the US was reduced to six games, however, due to COVID-19 cases on the Canadian team, which also delayed the December 22 announcement of the Olympic roster.
No gold since 2014
The women’s tournament in Beijing will run from February 2-16 at the National Indoor Stadium and Wukesong Sports Center. Canada will be aiming to win its fifth gold medal overall and first gold medal since 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
“It is a tremendous honor and achievement to be chosen to represent our country at the Olympics,” said Hockey Canada CEO Tom Rainey. “We congratulate all 23 players on their nomination to the Canadian Olympic team and we will join hockey fans from coast to coast in our excitement and pride as we watch Canada compete in Beijing.”
Bach, 25, a fast and skilful player from Milton, Ontario, spent time on Canada’s top line with Brian Jenner and Polin at their first World Championships last year.
At age 23, O’Neill, who hails from Mississauga, Ont., was the least experienced of the 29 players who arrived in Calgary in July to begin their Olympic centenary.
Mickelson is a three-time Olympian from Regina – she has appeared in 105 games for the national team – and at age 37 was the oldest player on the centralized roster. He had knee surgery last June and did not appear in a game until mid-December.
Canada will play no more sports before the Olympics to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and ensure players can board a plane to Beijing in less than a month.
The women are yet to reunite as a full team since COVID-19 infiltrated their ranks in December.
“I’ve got about half of our group back and the other half joining here soon,” Hockey Canada director of hockey operations Gina Kingsbury told The Canadian Press.
“Everyone is doing great. We are all double-vaccinated.”
Canada’s Olympic Roster
- Kristen Campbell, Brandon, Man.
- Ann-Renée Desbiennes, La Malbaie, Ky.
- Emerence Mashmeyer, Bruderheim, Alta.
- Erin Ambrose, Keswick, Ont.
- Ashton Bell, DeLorean, Man.
- Renata Fast, Burlington, Ont.
- Jocelyn Larocque, Ste. Anne, man.
- Ella Shelton, Ingersoll, Ont.
- Claire Thompson, Toronto
- Micah Zandi-Hart, Sanichton, BC
- Emily Clark, Saskatoon
- Melody Doust, Valleyfield, Ky.
- Sarah Fillier, Georgetown, Ont.
- Brian Jenner, Oakville, Ont.
- Rebecca Johnson, Sudbury, Ont.
- Emma Maltais, Burlington, Ont.
- Sarah Nurse, Hamilton
- Mary-Philippe Paulin, Beauceville, Ky. (team captain)
- Jamie Lee Rattray, Kanata, Ont.
- Jillian Saalnier, Halifax
- Natalie Spooner, Scarborough, Ont.
- Laura Stacy, Kleinberg, Ont.
- Blair Turnbull, Stellarton, NS