TORONTO, ON – Team Canada’s women’s hockey team heads to the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Game targeting nothing less than a gold medal.
After finishing with the silver medal at the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Games, and with the defending champion Russians not in New York, Canada’s potential for gold is as high as ever, especially with the talent they’re bringing.
2019 was the first time Canada sent a U SPORTS All-Star team, and they nearly won gold — it proved just how competitive Canadian university sport could be at this level.
Led by head coach Greg Bowles of the Ottawa Gee-Gees, team leader in Guelph’s Katie Mora and general manager and women’s hockey legend Danièle Sauvageau, the women’s hockey team will be the first Canadian athletes to compete at the Lake Placid 2023 Games.
Canada opens the tournament on Jan. 11 vs. Slovakia at Maxcy Hall in Potsdam, New York, with the Opening Ceremony set for Jan. 12 at Lake Placid’s Herb Brooks Arena, the home of Team USA’s 1980n Miracle on Ice. The 1980 rink will also host the women’s hockey semifinals and finals, where Canada hopes to play.
With the tournament just days away, 49 Sports takes an in-depth look at some of Canada’s key players.
For fans looking to watch the tournament, every game will be free on FISU TV, with the gold medal game on ESPN and TSN.
Powerful offensive talents
Canada’s forwards are an exciting group of high-flying talent, with the top three scorers in U SPORTS all heading to the Games, hoping to take Canada one step further than in 2019.
StFX’s Maggy Burbidge will no doubt be the offensive catalyst, as the fifth-year forward leads U SPORTS with 20 goals and 37 points and scored in her final game before FISU against the UNB Reds. Meanwhile, fellow AUS centre Shae Demale also represents Canada and has 11 goals and 24 points.
While Bowles may keep both on the same line, expect Demale to play centre and Burbidge to drift to the right side, where she’s made most of her impact this season, cutting in from out wide and using her pro-level shot to beat goaltenders.
Another player to look out for will be Canada’s assist leader, MRU’S Tatum Amy, who, despite having as many points as Demale, 24, has potted 18 assists. She tends to thrive in a bumper spot in front of goal, either firing on net from close range or supplying the point for a shooting opportunity.
“It’s important for me to step out of my box and try to take on a bit of a leadership role,” the MRU fifth-year told 49 Sports about her veteran qualities. “Getting to know everyone and making sure everyone knows who I am, I think that’s going to be a big step in a good direction to start.”
While the top three scorers stand out, a pair of Concordia Stingers and the OUA contributors could also be difference-makers.
Concordia’s Emmy Fecteau represented Canada at the U18 World Championships and comes to the Games with international experience while also being a dynamic forward that played a critical role in Concordia’s 2022 U SPORTS Championship.
Meanwhile, her teammate Rosalie Begin-Cyr tends to favour shots from the right side and has six goals and 14 points with an average of over 21 minutes played each game.
While the Canadian roster is exceptionally deep, the OUA foursome of Guelph’s Hannah Tait, Nipissing’s Maria Dominico and Waterloo’s Leah Herrfort and Queen’s Scout Watkins-Southward will be impactful.
Tait is a patient dynamic skater who can hold onto the puck while surveying her options. At the same time, Herrfort and Dominco will look to replicate the scoring success they’ve had this season in their duos — Mallory Dominco and Tatum James, who they’ve played alongside, aren’t going to Lake Placid.
For Watkins-Southward, there’s a chance to establish herself a little deeper in the lineup, potentially when Canada is holding onto a lead. While her five goals and 10 points is a solid OUA contribution, she’ll be relied on in a more shutdown role for Team Canada.
Canada’s forward group is filled with dynamic offensive talent for the Lake Placid Games and it will be difficult to hold off the scoresheet. Yet, there’s also a focus on defensive-minded players, which should ensure the U SPORTS All-Star group doesn’t get caught with low energy when trying to see results out.
Patient blueliners lead the way
Canada’s defence plays nearly the whole rink, with some thriving as offensive orchestrators while others’ qualities shine in shutting down the opposition. However, there isn’t much pre-determined chemistry in the group, with only two players having played together in the past in the Montreal Carabins duo of Annabelle Faubert and Kelly-Ann Nadeau.
Faubert brings a vital role to the Games as a returning player from the Krasnoyarsk 2019 FISU Games. However, she hasn’t had the best season for the Carabins, playing just five games, where she’s made minimal impact.
Outside of those two, there’s a lot of talent, particularly with Waterloo’s Carley Olivier and Saskatchewan’s Isabella Pozzi, both of whom have played critical roles in their teams’ success this season.
Olivier comes into the Games in good form, having scored an exceptional overtime goal to win her final Waterloo game ahead of FISU. She brings patience and slick skating to the Canadian group. She will likely play significant minutes, having averaged over 23:00 each night for the Warriors this season, with three goals and 10 assists.
One of the few Canada West players, Saskatchewan’s Pozzi will be one of the shutdown defenders on the right side, having averaged over 20 minutes a night for a Huskies team that boasts the second-best defensive record in CanWest.
While some more offensive U SPORTS didn’t make the final roster, the defence is well suited for any game stage Canada may see, with players’ qualities thriving in all areas of the ice.
Woodland’s net to lose
If there’s anything to heating up at the right time, Kendra Woodland may just crown herself the best goaltender at the FISU Games. The BC-born UNB Reds netminder stopped 59 of 60 shots she faced against StFX this weekend before saving all three X-Women shootout attempts.
The 22-year-old netminder has a U SPORTS-leading .963 save percentage while continuously making saves from areas of the ice where a goal is most expected. Her expected goals saved above expected is the highest in Canada, as she thrives at attacking shooters even in the most threatening positions.
As seen in the chart below, provided by InStat, Woodland often makes the save from high-scoring areas.
Also benefiting Woodland is her international experience. She joined the Canadian National Women’s Team for their summer selection camp in 2022 and won an IIHF U18 World Championship bronze medal with Team Canada in 2018.
While Woodland is likely the locked-in Team Canada starter, her backups in Ottawa’s Aurelie Dubuc and Saskatchewan, Camryn Drever, are also strong options in the crease.
Drever comes into the FISU Games as by far and away the best Canada West goaltender, boasting a .945 save percentage, helping the Huskies concede just 29 goals on the season, second best in the conference. While she occasionally struggles to get her glove hand to the save, she’s more than capable of being Canada’s starter if called upon.
Full Team Canada roster
- Tatum Amy, MRU
- Rosalie Bégin-Cyr, Concordia
- Maggy Burbidge, StFX
- Shae Demale, SMU
- Maria Dominico, Nipissing
- Emmy Fecteau, Concordia
- Leah Herrfort, Waterloo
- Lea MacLeod, StFX
- Hannah Tait, Guelph
- Audrey-Anne Veillette, Montreal
- Scout Watkins Southward, Queen’s
- Madison Willan, Alberta
- Carley Bossé-Olivier, Waterloo
- Annabel Faubert, Montreal
- Kelly-Ann Nadeau, Montreal
- Jenna MacLean, UNB
- Elizabeth Mura, McGill
- Isabella Pozzi, Saskatchewan
- Marie-Camille Théorê, Bishop’s
- Kendra Woodland, UNB
- Camryn Drever, Saskatchewan
- Aurelie Dubuc, Ottawa
TEAM CANADA SCHEDULE (all times EST)
Jan. 11 (8:00 pm): Canada vs. Slovakia
Jan. 14 (4:30 pm): Canada vs. Czechia
Jan. 15 (4:30 pm): Canada vs. Japan
Jan. 17 (4:30 pm): Canada vs. Great Britain
Jan. 18 (8:00 pm): Canada vs. USA
Jan. 20: Semi-finals
Jan. 21: Finals