Canada brings veteran team to final games of Rivalry Series season

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Hockey Canada will bring a veteran roster to the final three games of the Rivalry Series against the United States next month.

Games on Feb. 7 in Saskatoon, Feb. 9 in Regina and Feb. 11 in St. Paul, Minn., will serve as a final tune-up for the senior national team before the world championship in April.

The Canadian roster features PWHL Toronto forward Natalie Spooner, who will make her first appearance in red and white this season.

Spooner last played for Canada at last year’s World Championship as she returned after giving birth to her son, Rory, in December 2022. She was invited to Hockey Canada’s fall camp in September, but was listed as unable to attend.

Spooner has five goals in eight games for Toronto this season, just one goal behind Montreal’s Marie-Philip Poulin and Minnesota’s Grace Zumwinkle for the PWHL lead. Spooner scored twice in a 2-0 win over New York last Friday, giving Toronto its first home victory this season.

Canada will also return New York captain Micah Zandee-Hart to its blue line. She is ready to play her first games with Team Canada this season after recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.

A hockey player wearing a white New York jersey smiles on the ice.
New York captain Micah Zandee-Hart smiles during a game against Toronto at the Mattamy Athletic Center on January 26, 2024. (PWHL)

“Our team features a more veteran roster, but for each series we looked at the depth of our women’s program and incorporated athletes, which allowed us to test new line combinations,” said Canadian General Manager Gina Kingsbury .

“Ultimately, the process and these matches are the building blocks we need to be successful at the next Women’s World Championship in April.”

Toronto reserve forward Victoria Bach is also expected to make her first appearance for the national team this season. Bach has not yet played with Toronto in the regular season as she is finishing her teaching studies, but she is expected to be on the roster as early as February. She has five points in seven games with Canada at the 2022 World Championship.

Another Toronto forward, Maggie Connors, is set to make her senior national team debut after a strong start to her first professional season. The 23-year-old Princeton University graduate had a goal and two assists in eight games and earned time on the power play in Toronto.

Schroeder joins Desbiens, Maschmeyer in net

New York goaltender Corinne Schroeder will join Montreal’s Ann-Renée Desbiens and Ottawa’s Emerance Maschmeyer in net. Longtime Team Canada third goalie Kristen Campbell (Toronto) was not named to the roster.

Schroeder was named to her first senior national team for November’s Rivalry Series matches, but has yet to start.

She had one of the best goaltending performances in the PWHL thus far, highlighted by a shutout in the PWHL’s first game on New Year’s Day.

So far, Schroeder has a 1.79 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage, while facing more shots (167) than any other goaltender in the league, at exception of Desbiens.

Returning home for Clark

The game in Saskatoon will be Ottawa forward Emily Clark’s first opportunity to play a game in her hometown in over a decade. Team Canada played in Saskatoon for the Four Nations Cup in 2018, but Clark was injured a few weeks before.

A female hockey player smiles, with an ice surface behind her.
February’s Rivalry Series game in Saskatoon will be Ottawa forward Emily Clark’s first opportunity to play in front of a home crowd in more than a decade. (Kim Vallière/Radio-Canada)

“Being able to play in my hometown, I don’t think there’s anything better I could put down on paper,” Clark said in November during Ottawa’s training camp.

The United States leads Canada 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Starting February 5, the PWHL will take a break while North American players compete in the Rivalry Series and European players travel overseas for the Euro Hockey Tour, with games resuming on February 14.

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