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CALGARY — Canada will be green in goal at the Four Nations Cup women’s hockey tournament.
Hockey Canada has announced the country’s 22-player roster for the tournament Nov. 4-8 in Sundsvall, Sweden.
Canada is the defending champion having beaten the U.S. women 3-2 in a shootout in last year’s final in Kamloops, B.C. Finland and Sweden round out the tournament field.
Canadian goaltenders Emerance Maschmeyer of Bruderheim, Alta., and Erica Howe of Orleans, Ont., have fewer than five career starts for the national team between them.
“We know what we have in some of our other goalies, but it’s important to give some of these young players an opportunity to see what they can with the senior team,” head coach Laura Schuler said Tuesday.
Shannon Szabados, Canada’s winning goalie in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic finals, is playing men’s pro hockey for the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Columbus Cottonmouths.
Maschmeyer, 21, was the winning goalie in two preliminary-round games last year in Kamloops. She dressed for two games in April’s women’s world championship in Malmo, Sweden, but did not play in the tournament.
Maschmeyer and Howe, 23, may be short on national-team starts, but they’ve played international games for Canada’s under-22 and under-18 teams and both have played in an NCAA Frozen Four final, points out general manager Melody Davidson.
“While on paper it might seem they’re inexperienced, they definitely have pretty good pedigrees, both of them,” Davidson said. “We need to see if what they bring on all the other levels, they bring at the senior level as well.”
In non-Olympic years, the world championships and Four Nations Cup are the only two major international tournaments for the Canadian women.
The 2016 women’s world championship will be March 28 to April 4 in Kamloops. The Americans are the defending champions after beating Canada 7-5 in Malmo.
Canada’s Four Nations roster includes seven players who won Olympic gold in 2014 in Sochi, Russia: Marie-Philip Poulin, Meghan Agosta, Natalie Spooner, Jennifer Wakefield, Rebecca Johnston, Laura Fortino and Lauriane Rougeau.
Those players minus Agosta, along with forwards Jillian Saulnier, Bailey Bram, Jessica Campbell, Emily Clark, Sarah Davis and defenders Courtney Birchard, Brigette Lacquette and Halli Krzyzaniak, all won a silver medal at the world championship.
Defencemen Renata Fast of Burlington, Ont., and Sarah Edney of Mississauga, Ont., as well as forwards Sarah Lefort of Ormstown, Que., Sarah Nurse of Hamilton and Sarah Potomak of Aldergrove, B.C., will make their national-team debuts in Sweden.
So Schuler can get the attention of a quarter of her team in Sweden by shouting just one name.
“Isn’t that funny?” Davidson said. “I said (to Schuler), if you get in trouble, you can just yell ‘Sarah’ from the bench.”
Agosta, Canada’s leading scorer and tournament MVP at the 2010 Winter Olympics, returns to the national team after taking police training in Vancouver last winter.
Left off the Four Nations roster were Sochi veterans Hayley Wickenheiser, Haley Irwin, Jocelyne Larocque, Brianne Jenner, Melodie Daoust, Tara Watchorn and goaltender Charline Labonte. Those players participated in the national team’s September camp.
Davidson said Wickenheiser (foot) and Jenner (abdomen) need more time to rehabilitate from surgeries they had earlier this year, while Irwin is dealing with hip issues.
The Canadian roster includes 13 players from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and seven from the NCAA.
“This roster is by no means necessarily our roster for the world championship,” Schuler said. “This is an opportunity to see what we have and where is our depth?
“The players we have selected, there’s a reason why we selected them. They’re performed in the past and done well and now it’s an opportunity to see what they can do at that next level.”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
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