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Women's World Championship Preview: Team Canada

Canada's women's national team is flying high after wins at the Olympics and the last World Championship. Can they continue that run and win it all in Denmark?
Sarah Fillier and Marie-Philip Poulin

Entering as the reigning World Championship and Olympic gold medallists, Canada will again be expected to win at Denmark's 2022 women’s World Championship. There are, however, a few key changes to their roster this time around and the USA, as well as the ever-improving Finnish team will give challenge to Canada’s hold on the podium. Here’s a look at how Canada’s 23-player roster shakes out.

Who Will Canada Rely On?

Marie-Philip Poulin is the best in the world, and she’ll again be counted upon in this tournament. Perhaps the greatest clutch performer in the sport, Poulin was unstoppable at the Beijing Olympics this winter, and her timely scoring has proven the difference repeatedly for Canada. 

Sarah Nurse had a coming-out party at the Olympics, scoring records while leading the tournament and being named an All-Star. Brianne Jenner was Canada’s top goal scorer in Beijing, and her finishing touch will be necessary for Canada to repeat as champions. Canada will be without four of its top veterans from recent competitions, making room for young star Sarah Fillier to step into the spotlight. The youngest player on the roster, Fillier has shown glimpses of greatness and will play top-six minutes throughout the World Championship.

Defensively, Canada will rely heavily on Erin Ambrose to advance the puck, while Renata Fast will also see powerplay time. Canada sees the return of veteran Meaghan Mikkelson on the back end. The 37-year-old took a season away from hockey in 2018-2019 and has not represented Canada since the 2018 Olympics. Jocelyn Larocque, part of Canada’s leadership group at recent tournaments, will provide a physical presence and stability in all three zones for Canada on the blueline.

In net, it’s Ann-Renee Desbiens' crease to lose. She has played every major game for Canada in recent seasons, and is a proven big game goalie. Emerance Maschmeyer started games in both the Olympics and World Championship and will again give Desbiens relief.

Missing Veteran Talent

Canada is without four of the most consistent offensive contributors in the national program. Perhaps the biggest absence is Melodie Daoust, who was the 2018 Olympic MVP and 2021 World Championship MVP and leading scorer. Daoust suffered a devastating injury at the 2022 Olympics and recently took on a new coaching role.

Daoust, however, is not the only key scorer Canada is without for this tournament. Natalie Spooner is also absent from Canada’s roster as she prepares to welcome a new baby to her family in December. Spooner was the third leading scorer at the most recent World Championship and finished fourth in Olympic scoring. The 31-year-old Olympic all-star will eye a return to Canada’s lineup for the 2023 worlds. 

Defender Claire Thompson set an Olympic record for points by a blueliner, and was named a tournament All-Star in Beijing, but won't participate in this tournament after being accepted into medical school. Finally, Rebecca Johnston, another long-time member of Canada’s roster isn't back, either.

New Faces Stepping In

Victoria Bach, Kristin O'Neill, and Jessie Eldridge were all cut from Canada’s Olympic squad this winter, but will join the World Championship roster. Bach and O’Neill represented Canada at the 2021 World Championship, while the 24-year-old Eldridge is suiting for Canada for the first time at any level. The former Colgate captain has been skating with Montreal’s PWHPA team, and was a prolific NCAA scorer. As mentioned, Megan Mikkelson is also returning to Canada’s roster on the blueline. The final returning face for Canada is Sarah Potomak, who represented Canada at the 2017 World Championship while still a Sophomore with Minnesota in the NCAA, but has not represented Canada since. Prior to the NCAA, Potomak led the women’s U-18 World Championship in scoring in back-to-back years and was named tournament MVP, making this tournament her chance to return to a prominent position with Canada’s national team.

The 2022 women’s World Championship begins on August 25 in Frederikshavn and Herning, Denmark.

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