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Calgary sends nine players to Women’s World Championship

By Sonny Sachdeva, March 29 2016 — 

The best of women’s hockey have convened in Kamloops, British Columbia for the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation’s Women’s World Championship.

Running from March 28–April 4, the tournament brings together eight of the world’s top hockey nations. Canada and the United States have dominated the tournament since its inaugural event in 1990, as the two have met in the gold medal game each year.

Canada has won 10 golds, besting the United States’ six. However, the Americans have won six of the last eight gold medals, including the past two titles.

The red and white are looking for redemption after being denied the gold with a score of 7–5 last year in Malmö, Sweden — and it looks like they’ll get plenty of help from Calgary.

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s Calgary Inferno — who are fresh off their first ever Clarkson Cup championship — sent nine players to the international tournament.

Inferno defenders Brigette Lacquette and Meaghan Mikkelson earned the Team Canada call-up, as did forwards Rebecca Johnston, Jillian Saulnier, Bailey Bram, Brianne Jenner, Sarah Davis, Blayre Turnbull and former University of Calgary Dino Hayley Wickenheiser.

Turnbull, Johnston and Jenner figure to play key roles for Canada’s offence. All three players scored two goals each in the Inferno’s championship-winning game against Montreal earlier this month.

Brad Kirkwood, the goaltending coach for the Dinos women’s hockey team, also went to Kamloops with Team Canada to serve as a consultant for the national squad.

The Canadians proved the strength of their offensive attack when they routed Sweden in their pre-tournament game, topping them 9–0.

Johnston paced Team Canada with a hat trick, while Natalie Spooner posted a team-leading four points. Nine different Canadian skaters posted multipoint totals in the win, with Alberta native Emerance Maschmeyer holding down the fort in net, stopping 16 shots to earn the shutout.

While Calgary is well-represented with the promising Canadian squad, the city also has numerous ties to opposing rosters.

Team Japan features three players from the Calgary Inferno, alongside one player from the Calgary Titans — the local Junior A team from the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League.

The Dinos continue to be well-represented at the tournament, as star forward duo Iya Gavrilova and Alexandra Vafina — who finished first and secondin scoring this season — return to the national circuit to represent Team Russia.

Team Canada opened their tournament bid with a 3–1 loss to the United States on March 28. Blue-liner Laura Fortino earned Canada’s only goal while Maschmeyer stopped 35 of 38 shots from the Americans.

Assuming Canada can bounce back and earn a berth in the gold medal game for the 17th straight year, they’ll do so on April 4 at Kamloops’ Sandman Centre.

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