Hockey Canada has announced their roster for the mid-February Rivalry Series between Team USA and Team Canada, and it includes some familiar, but unexpected, faces.
#NEWS | @HC_Women will compete in three-game #RivalrySeries vs. USA Hockey, which includes home games in London (Feb. 12) and Toronto (Feb. 14).— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) January 23, 2019
ROSTER/SCHEDULE/TICKETS: https://t.co/7YTRr3pKEE pic.twitter.com/A7ut08GS1X
All of the players on the roster are CWHL players, with the exception of goalie Shannon Szabados, who plays for the Buffalo Beauts of the NWHL. It includes all the usual suspects, including 17 players from the 4 Nations Cup roster. From the GTA teams, that would be Toronto Furies players Sarah Nurse, Natalie Spooner, and Renata Fast, and Markham Thunder players Laura Fortino, Laura Stacey, and Jocelyne Larocque. This is a good week for Fast, who was also announced as one of the players attending the NHL All-Star Game skills competition this weekend.
Hockey Canada elected to not bring any collegiate players, which left some holes to be filled and a great chance for CWHL players on the national team bubble to get some playing time with the senior team. While some of the names are unsurprising—Markham Thunder forwards Victoria Bach and Jamie Lee Rattray both played in the 4 Nations Cup after injuries to some of the NCAA players on the original roster, and Erin Ambrose was cut from the Olympic team—some are unexpected.
Anyone who watches the CWHL should be yelling “FINALLY” at the inclusion of star Canadiennes forward Ann-Sophie Bettez, who’s been one of the best players in the league for years, is currently third in the league in scoring, and is somehow only now making her senior team debut. This series will also see Calgary Inferno forward Rebecca Leslie rejoining Bach, her Boston University partner in crime, as a member of the senior team.
Toronto Furies fans will be especially pleased to note that rookie forward Brittany Howard will be up with the senior team for the first time. Howard was invited to Fall Festival for the first time this season, but didn’t make the cut for 4 Nations. Robert Morris University’s all-time leading scorer, Howard has two goals and nine points in eighteen games with the Furies, and her energetic, scrappy-yet-skilled playing style has made her a lot of fun to watch this season.
Team USA has not announced its roster yet, and Markham Thunder fans might want to pay special attention when they do—defender Megan Bozek, who was cut from the Olympic team, was back on Team USA for 4 Nations and is a likely choice for their roster this time around as well.
As great as it is to see Furies and Thunder players getting national team playing time, it comes at a crucial moment in the season—especially for Toronto, who are hanging on to the edge of the playoff bubble by their fingernails. Toronto has a single game against Montreal on the 9th, and they play Markham on the 16th and 17th, as the Rivalry Series is wrapping up in Detroit. Those are going to be must-win games for the Furies (at this point, everything is a must-win game) and they’ll be missing some of their best players. Of course, Markham will be shorthanded too, but they’re already in a playoff spot.
The Rivalry Series will be on February 12th, 14th, and 17th, in London, Toronto, and Detroit, respectively. Tickets are currently on sale, but if you can’t make it in person, both TSN and RDS will be broadcasting the games.