Canada's women's soccer named The Canadian Press team of the year after Olympic gold
Nine years ago Canada's national women's team earned bronze at the London Olympics after a controversial semifinal shootout loss to the United States. Canada's women were named the team of the year by The Canadian Press at the end of 2012, but the national side wanted more. They wanted Olympic gold. Julia Grosso's goal in penalty kicks lifted Canada to a 1-1 shootout victory over Sweden in the Tokyo Games final this past summer, realizing that nearly decade-old dream. That championship victory was the highlight of a 13-match unbeaten streak that once again earned Canada's women team of the year honours from The Canadian Press on Thursday.
CALGARY — Marie-Philip Poulin and Rebecca Johnston will represent Canada in Olympic women's hockey for a fourth time in their careers after winning gold in both 2010 and 2014, and silver in 2018.
The two veterans were among the 23 women named to Canada's roster Tuesday for the Winter Games in Beijing opening Feb. 4.
"It's tough, to be honest, to put into words that emotion when you walk into the opening ceremonies, and realize that you're there. You made it," Poulin said. "It's an honour every time you wear that Maple Leaf."
Three goaltenders, seven defenders and 13 forwards were announced virtually by Hockey Canada.
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"The best thing about this group right now right now is we're confident with the work that we've done to date, but we're also eager with the work that's still left to be done to make us successful in Beijing," said head coach Troy Ryan of Spryfield, N.S.
Thirteen women return from the team that lost 3-2 in a shootout to the United States in the 2018 gold-medal game in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Canada opens its bid to reclaim gold the day before the opening ceremonies with a preliminary-round game against Switzerland in Beijing's National Indoor Stadium.
The gold-medal game is Feb. 16.
Twenty-nine players centralized in Calgary in July to begin Olympic preparation. Defender Meaghan Mikkelson and forwards Victoria Bach and Kristin O'Neill were the final cuts from the team.
Canadian Olympic athletes on tenterhooks trying to avoid COVID ahead of Beijing
Faster. Higher. Stronger. Together — and just don't test positive. That's the rallying cry for thousands of athletes as they prepare for the Olympics. With less than a month to go until the Feb. 4 opening ceremony at the Beijing Games, and with the clock ticking on the Canadian Olympic Committee's Jan. 23 deadline to announce the athletes who will be competing, the only thing on the minds of most athletes is staying clear of the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Defender Jamie Bourbonnais and forwards Jessie Eldridge and Julia Gosling were released Dec. 3.
Mikkelson, a three-time Olympian and the oldest player on the centralized roster at 37, didn't play games until mid-December.
Video: Today in History for December 29th (The Canadian Press)
A severe knee injury sustained during a Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association game in May required surgery in June, and a long rehabilitation that limited Mikkelson to just four games.
Defenders Erin Ambrose and Micah Zandee-Hart, who were released from the 2018 team, were named to the 2022 roster.
Kristin Campbell, Ann-Renée Desbiens and Emerance Maschmeyer are Canada's goaltenders.
Ambrose, Zandee-Hart, Ashton Bell, Renata Fast, Jocelyne Larocque, Ella Shelton and Claire Thompson round out the defenders.
Emily Clark, Mélodie Daoust, Sarah Fillier, Brianne Jenner, Emma Maltais, Sarah Nurse, Jamie Lee Rattray, Jillian Saulnier, Natalie Spooner, Laura Stacey and Blayre Turnbull join Poulin and Johnston at forward.
Quebec women poised to soar on world stage in 2022
With the National Hockey League taking a pass on the Beijing Winter Olympics, the Canada-United States women’s hockey rivalry is poised to grab the spotlight. Canada and the United States have dominated the competition since women’s hockey made its debut at the 1998 Nagano Games in Japan. Canada has won four of the six gold medals and finished second to the U.S. on the other two occasions, including the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Before it was brought to a halt by the pandemic, the Rivalry Series, a barnstorming tour of North America, had produced standing-room only crowds as well as strong TV ratings.
Women's Olympic rosters are 23 players compared to the men's 25.
Larocque, Jenner, Daoust and Spooner will compete in a third Olympic Games. Fillier, the youngest at 21, is among 10 making their debuts.
Canada edged the United States 3-2 in overtime Aug. 31 for its first women's world championship since 2012. That world championship was rescheduled and relocated to Calgary after Nova Scotia cancelled the April tournament.
Canada's women have played a combined 27 games since July in the world championship, and games against the United States and Finland women, male Junior A and under-17 teams and Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association (PWHPA) players.
A nine-game Rivalry Series against the U.S. was curtailed to six games, however, due to COVID-19 cases on the Canadian team, which also delayed the Dec. 22 announcement of the Olympic roster to Tuesday.
Canada's last game was a 3-2 overtime win over the American women Dec. 17 in St. Louis. The series' final three games, including two scheduled to be played in Alberta, were called off.
The Canadian women have walled themselves off from the public to avoid more infections, and be able to board a plane Jan. 26 for Beijing, says director of hockey operations Gina Kingsbury.
"From now until then, we're basically in a bubble," Kingsbury said. "We're going to take every precaution that we possibly can as a group to remain safe and to create the right environment, not only to be safe, but also to be at our best and prepare."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2022.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Staal, Julien could see hopes of NHL return boosted by Olympic performances .
Eric Staal wasn't aiming to take part in his third Olympics. Claude Julien, meanwhile, agreed to coach Canada at two December tournaments simply to get back behind the bench. The COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, closed plenty of doors. But for Staal and Julien, it's opened another wide open — and there's a chance it could eventually lead both men back to the NHL. The decorated duo is set to lead Canada's Olympic men's hockey team at theClaude Julien, meanwhile, agreed to coach Canada at two December tournaments simply to get back behind the bench.