To call the Canadian women’s hockey contingent dominant is nothing short of an understatement. Since women’s hockey became a competition sport at the Winter Universiade (also known as World Winter University Games) beginning in 2009, Canada has claimed the gold on three consecutive occasions. The third gold medal was claimed in December 2013 as part of a convincing 5-0 final victory over the Russian women’s team.
With the Canadian contingent featuring the finest players from Canadian Interuniversity Sport hockey, their run at the Winter Universiade is legendary. In 21 games played since 2009, Canada boasts an undefeated mark. Their cumulative total score (2009, 2011 and 2013) is an astounding 174-12.
In 2013, Canada outscored their opponents by a combined score of 77-2. This tops their previous high from 2011 when opponents were outscored 51-3. At the inaugural women’s hockey event in 2009, Canada overwhelmed its rivals by a 46-7 margin.
Their road to the gold medal game included three consecutive scoreless games to start things off. A record 21-0 win over Spain on December 10 set the tone. Two days later, Canada would blank Russia by a 5-0 tally and follow it up with a 13-0 whitewash of Great Britain. Their first goal of the tournament was allowed against the United States on December 15.
Prevailing over their rivals by a 9-1 tally, Canada maintained the momentum with an identical 9-1 win against Japan. In the semis, Japan would find themselves on the losing end of another match with Canada. With five points from former CWHL star Amanda Parkins, Canada emerged victorious in a 15-0 triumph.
As the gold medal confrontation featured a rematch with Russia, the first period was a defensive stalemate. Despite outshooting the Russians by a convincing 17-3 margin, backstop Anna Prugova was next to impenetrable. In the first nine minutes of the game, Canada had three power play opportunities nullified due to Prugova’s presence. Guelph leading scorer Jessica Pinkerton managed to log the only goal of the first as Canada enjoyed the 1-0 lead.
The second stanza saw the Canadians pepper Prugova with another 21 shots on net. The beleaguered Russians only managed three shots on Canada’s net in the second as Kelly Campbell of the University of Western Ontario was hardly tested between the pipes.
Just like the opening frame, the first half of the second resulted in no goals being scored. At the 10:24 mark of the second, Jenna Smith from the University of Calgary managed to solve Prugova as Canada extended their lead. The 16:53 mark saw McGill’s Katia Clement-Heydra add another goal for the 3-0 advantage. Of note, Tatiana Rafter of the University of British Columbia assisted on both goals in the second.
Heading into the final frame, Russia was unable to mount a comeback. Despite Canada being held scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the frame, Russia could not find a way to reduce their deficit. The final five minutes found Canada adding two more scores to their insurmountable lead. Laura Brooker from the Laurier Golden Hawks scored at the 15:35 mark, while Smith added her second goal of the game at 16:26.
Of note, Smith and Rafter would lead all scorers with three points (2 G, 1A for Smith and 3 A for Rafter) as nine different Canadian skaters registered at least one point. Campbell not only won her fourth game for Canada, but managed to register four shutouts.
Kim Deschenes of the Montreal Carabins was the only player on the 2013 roster to have been part of the Canadian squad in 2011. This caps off a memorable year for Deschenes who also led Montreal to the 2013 CIS title. Head coach Howie Draper holds the rare distinction of having won a CIS women’s title (with the Alberta Pandas) and a Winter Universiade women’s gold.
As Canada ices teams at the Under-18, Under-22 and Senior levels, the wondrous women that represent their universities and the country they are proud to call home are unsung heroes in the game. While their accomplishments may not gain the same spotlights as an IIHF World Championship or Winter Games, there is no question that what they have accomplished is testament to the talent that competes at the CIS level. Parts of a tremendous chapter in the history of Canadian women’s hockey, the Canadian women of the Winter Universiade are true heroes and role models for the next generation of CIS women’s hockey competitors.
Photo credit: Mary Beth Challanor