The IIHF Women's World Championship is the Olympics when there are no Olympics. The top eight teams in the world clash for supremacy, and the one who comes out on top has bragging rights for one year instead of four, but it's still incredibly good hockey.
While plenty of the usual suspects dot the Team Canada roster, there are also eight rookies suiting up for this tournament. Four of them played in the CWHL this past season, and two are part of the Inferno -- namely, Sarah Davis and Jessica Campbell, both of whom made an impact on a Calgary squad that made the playoffs for the second year straight. The other four are NCAA products, three coming from the dominant WCHA, while one -- Jillian Saulnier of Cornell -- represents the ECAC.
There are also plenty of CWHLers on this list, including four total from Calgary (the aforementioned Davis and Campbell, plus Rebecca Johnston and Bailey Bram). Haley Irwin was named to the list, but bowed out due to injury; Montreal's Caroline Ouellette replaced her last week. Other notable names include Boston's Tara Watchorn and Genevieve Lacasse (the only Olympian goalie of the trio going to Malmo), Jamie Lee Rattray of Brampton, and Natalie Spooner of the Furies.
Marie-Philip Poulin was named captain of Team Canada on Thursday, and it's little surprise (to me at least). This is her fifth World Championship, and she's won two Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2010 and 2014 (and played huge roles in each). She was also a top-three finalist for the 2015 Patty Kazmaier, awarded to the top NCAA women's hockey player each year, for her terrific play this season for Boston University. (She eventually lost out to Boston College and Team USA rival Alex Carpenter, in case you were wondering.) Poulin is an invaluable player for Team Canada, as she thrives in international play and can make things happen with or without the puck. She'll be assisted by Spooner, Johnston, Brianne Jenner and Lauriane Rougeau.
Other names you should pay attention to on Team Canada:
- Emerance Maschmeyer. Not only is her name amazing, but so is her play; she backstopped Harvard to the NCAA Women's Frozen Four, withstanding over 70 shots in two games and beating top dogs BC before losing to Minnesota in the championship game. Over three years she has a respectable .941 average save percentage for the Crimson. She also stood out in the 4 Nations Cup last November, where she helped Canada win a gold medal. Her poise and focus in net is incredible, and should she get playing time in Malmo (it'll be her, Lacasse and Ann-Renee Desbiens) it'll be well-earned.
- Jamie Lee Rattray. A member of Canada's U18 and U22 programs -- and winning gold medals with each -- Rattray is no stranger to international play. She also played well at the 4 Nations Cup, and prior to her rookie season in Brampton (where she put up 13 points), she led Clarkson University to its first-ever national championship in 2014, where they upset Minnesota to take the title.
- Bailey Bram. A late cut for the Olympics last year, Bram isn't quite as flashy as Inferno teammate Johnston, but she's a great playmaker and can do some damage on the power play (five of her 14 points during the CWHL's regular season were on the man-advantage).
- Brigette Lacquette. Lacquette was UMD's top-scoring blueliner this past season with 25 points. She's a great puck mover, unafraid to jump into the play, and can only add to a team already bursting with goal scorers (Johnston, Spooner, Rattray, Poulin, Ouellette... I can go on).