Canada Gets Silver In Women’s World Championships With Help From Inferno Players

Team Canada were sure to have had a rough night last night after losing in overtime to Team USA in the gold medal game of the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships, held in Kamloops, BC.

Team Canada and USA were tied at zero heading into the end of regulation. Goaltending for both squads was incredible, with Emerance Maschmeyer holding down the fort for Canada, facing 33 shots. On the other side, Alex Rigsby earned a shutout for her American squad, butting the breaks on all of Canada’s 32 chances. 

Play was evenly matched for the majority of the game, and heading into overtime, it was really anyone’s guess which team would take home the gold medal.

Alex Carpenter would be the one to ruin Canada’s hopes of winning gold when she scored the overtime winner for the U.S. to win the game 1-0.

The Americans would win their third straight gold medal after being undefeated in the tournament. This is the 17th time the two squads have met in the finals. 

Calgary Well Represented

The Calgary Inferno have always been well-represented at the national ranks, because Calgary is home to the Canadian national women’s teams’ program, and a fair bit of players take the opportunity to play professional hockey in the CWHL while training with Team Canada.

This year saw nine players from the 2016 Clarkson Cup-winning Inferno squad play for Team Canada in Kamloops.

Brigette Lacquette

Lacquette was the second-leading assist leaders among defensemen for the Inferno last season, capturing eight in the regular season. Heading into Kamloops, it would be only her second World Championships, after debuting with the national team last year in Malmo.

Lacquette contributed two assists and was a reliable anchor on the point for Team Canada throughout the tournament.

Meaghan Mikkelson-Reid

If you want to know the challenges of being a pro hockey player and a new mother at the same time, there’s no better person to talk to than Mikkelson-Reid. 

It’s been an interesting year for her, assistant coaching the Inferno at the first part of the year while at the end stages of her pregnancy alongside Inferno coach, Scott Reid. The two gave birth to young Calder Reid, and almost as soon as she gave birth, she was right back on the ice contributing to the Inferno’s Clarkson Cup run. 

By the end of these 2016 World Championships, she put the puck in the back of the net twice, one goal coming on the power play. In fact, these games were the first time she wore a Team Canada jersey since she won gold in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and she fitted in quite nicely.

The All-Inferno Line of Bailey Bram, Sarah Davis and Blayre Turnbull

You’d be hard pressed to find another player that came into the tournament more motivated that Bram. The 5’9 forward was one of the last cuts for the 2014 Olympic team, but didn’t let that stop her. 

She bounced back with the Calgary Inferno this season, earning 14 points in the season, and scoring in the 2016 Clarkson Cup. 

Her best performance in the tournament probably came in the semifinals against Finland, when her line with fellow Infernos Blayre Turnbull and Sarah Davis were on fire for the better part of the game, even when they were supposed to be Canada’s fourth line.  

Davis ended the tournament with no points, but still generated a number of good chances for Canada and worked well with Turnbull and Bram. 

Blayre Turnbull ended  the tournament with one goal and two assists. 

Rebecca Johnston 

By far Johnston was one of the most consistent players for Team Canada, leading her squad in scoring with seven points (2G, 5A). 

Along with Maschmeyer, the Sudbury native was named to the tournament All-Star team. She was really enjoyable to watch throughout the tournament. From her smooth skating to her hockey smarts on the ice, she was a star for the red and white.

Brianne Jenner 

If there’s anyone who didn’t get any sleep last night, it was Jenner. The 24-year-old came so close to winning the game when she went on a rush with Natalie Spooner at about the 10 second mark of the third period, and nearly scored what would have been Canada’s first goal, only for Alex Rigsby to deny the dynamic pair.

Jenner had a really good tournament though, grabbing four assists, and scoring a crucial goal in the semifinals against Finland to put the Canadian squad up 3-1. 

Jillian Saulnier 

Nova Scotia is a province with a rich tradition of making some pretty good hockey players… There’s that guy named Sidney who’s okay and another one named Nathan who isn’t bad… But the province is celebrating another one of its hockey heroes in action. 

Nova Scotia Hockey director, Darren Cossar told Metro Halifax: “It’s so different than the male side. We don’t get to touch Sidney and Nathan, but these girls, when they’re home, they’re on the ice with their minor hockey teams,” and helping to grow the women’s game. 

Saulnier played very well for Canada, including a strong showing last night against the U.S. She ended the tournament with a pair of assists and a goal.

Hayley Wickenheiser 

In her 13th World Championship, Wickenheiser was fighting to play after surgery left a fair bit of screws and plates in her left foot. But still she managed to pull through and though she ended the tournament with no points, it was nice to see her back after such a quick recovery. 

Of note, last night was the women’s hockey legend’s 50th appearance in a championship game. You can tell her career is winding down, but for 37 years old, she looked pretty good on the ice for Canada. 

The Bottom Line

Even though Canada didn’t pull off the win last night, they still had an incredible tournament. It’ll be interesting to see how the team evolves next year with the likes of Emerance Maschmeyer in the 2016 CWHL Draft this summer. 

Women’s hockey is gaining strength around the world; even Germany will be in the tournament next year. 

And with the NWHL-CWHL rivalry not going anywhere anytime soon, players will have lots of options of where to play. But for many, Calgary still is the most ideal location to play professional hockey. 

  • beloch

    The NWHL in the U.S. now pays players an average of $15K/yr (assuming they spend to the cap). Sure, $15K/yr is peanuts compared to even the AHL, but a little money does take the pressure off and allow some of the more dedicated NWHL players to train part-time instead of working full-time jobs.

    The CWHL (e.g. The Calgary Inferno), on the other hand, is still an unpaid amateur league. Get used to seeing the U.S. women’s team dominate folks, at least until the CWHL somehow finds the funds to pay its players. That would probably require people to, you know, actually attend CWHL hockey games in decent numbers.

    My crazy idea: Why doesn’t the CWHL change it’s season so that it runs all summer and the championship coincides with the last weeks before the NHL pre-season starts? Canada is a pretty hockey-mad market, but the NHL saturates that market rather effectively for 7-10 months of the year. If the CWHL was in full-swing during the summer months it might be able to sell tickets and get TV coverage to slake the thirsts of die-hard hockey fans during the long, summer drought.