For the second consecutive year, Upper Deck’s Team Canada Juniors set includes an assortment of world-class women’s hockey talent. Although there has never been a card set devoted entirely for just women’s hockey, the presence of Upper Deck has represented a boon for the growth of the game, while adding a major league feeling to women’s hockey.
The 2015-16 edition of the Team Canada Juniors set includes all the members of the Canadian national women’s team that participated in the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Malmo, Sweden. With 100 base cards in the set, 75 feature competitors from the men’s U18 and U22 junior teams, while 25 cards consists of the women’s senior team.
As a side note, Ann-Renee Desbiens and Natalie Spooner are the only women in the set to have two base cards. The cards for Desbiens are numbered 64 and 99, while Spooner is featured on numbers 68 and 100. Also the franchise player for the CWHL’s Toronto Furies, Spooner has become one of the league’s (and the sport’s) most popular athletes. Having collected herself when she was younger, the chance to see women appear on hockey cards represents a proud moment,
"Hockey cards are so much fun to collect. Growing up I remember having hockey cards with all of my favorite players. They were all men.
I think having female hockey cards is a huge step for the women’s game. Now that there are female players in the hockey card packs, it is exciting to know that little girls will collect them and spark that love of hockey.
Bringing awareness to women’s hockey is very important to help the game grow and I think having female players on the Upper Deck hockey cards will do just that!”
Having played alongside Spooner during the 2012-13 Furies season, Rebecca Johnston shares her sentiments. Her first appearance on a hockey card came during O-Pee-Chee’s 2009-10 offering. Leading into the Vancouver Winter Games, Canadian national team cards featuring both male and female players were randomly inserted in packs. Last season, Johnston became the first member of the Calgary Inferno to capture the 2015 Angela James Bowl,
“Women’s hockey is becoming well known and we are beginning to see an increased number of fans wanting to see women play and enjoy seeing women play hockey. The women’s game is evolving and the hockey cards are one exciting step along the way!”
In years past, women’s hockey players have been featured on products issued by the likes of In the Game, O-Pee-Chee (now owned by Upper Deck), Panini America, Topps, the aforementioned Upper Deck and the defunct Classic Games. Of note, Classic issued the first modern women’s hockey card in 1992, which featured Manon Rheaume.
Upper Deck’s first women’s hockey card issues were released close to two decades ago in the 1997-98 Collector’s Choice set (which also included NHL players). The most noticeable aspect of those cards was the fact that the words “National Heroes” were featured prominently among the top.
Such a set was a remarkable way to generate interest towards the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, which featured the first women’s hockey tournament at the Games. Coincidentally, that was also the first season that WNBA Basketball Cards were issued, signifying a landmark year for women’s sports collectibles.
As a side note, Upper Deck pays homage to that groundbreaking Collector’s Choice release in this year’s Upper Deck Team Canada Juniors set. Six retro-themed women’s hockey cards (numbered RW1 – RW6) feature that card design, with players such as Marie-Philip Poulin and Caroline Ouellette among said six. Unfortunately, finding those cards shall not be an easy task as they are randomly inserted at approximately 1 in 216 packs.
Such cards are among a larger number of randomly inserted cards available, which may be perceived as nothing short of overwhelming to accumulate. From the chance to locate autographed cards, die-cut cards, memorabilia cards (with the swatch of a jersey), parallel cards in red and gold foil, even part of a printing plate, hardcore collectors may have to procure several of these highly desired cardboard treasures through an online auction site. Although such cards are not part of the 100-card base set, there is an element of collectibility and prestige to them.
Prestige was definitely a feeling for many of the players whose empowering images adorned the cards of the 2014-15 edition of the Team Canada Juniors set. Of note, said set included the Canadian female players that competed at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds and/or the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. For several of the players, this constituted their first appearance on a trading card, known among collectors as a “rookie card”.
Among those players enjoying their rookie card status in the 2014-15 set was Jocelyne Larocque. One of the shining stars on Canada’s defense, Larocque has emerged as one of many talented players from Manitoba, making the region a budding hot spot for future talent. Having a collector in her family, it made for a great topic of conversation while providing her with the special chance to share in her proud career milestone with loved ones,
“My grandpa is a huge card collector and he was the one who showed me my first Upper Deck card. It was a surreal moment for me. Definitely, a moment I will never forget.”
In addition to claiming gold at Sochi 2014, Larocque is currently the captain of the CWHL’s Brampton Thunder. During the 2014-15 season, Larocque was part of two other unique hockey card experiences.
Of note, the Thunder issued a glossy card set featuring all the members of their roster, which were sold at home games. In addition, hockey cards were issued to commemorate the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game. All competing players (of which Larocque was one) were given one complete set.
Having also competed in the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game, former All-America selection Lauriane Rougeau was ecstatic at the hockey card experience. Her career is somewhat parallel to Larocque as both are among the CWHL’s younger stars and are blueliners that made their Winter Games debut at Sochi 2014. Currently a member of Les Canadiennes de Montreal, Rougeau also grew up collecting cards of her favorite NHL players.
“It was a great feeling to see yourself on a card. You grow up buying NHL cards so to see yourself, it is a tremendous honor. To wear the Team Canada jersey on the card and share it with the entire world, it is a great feeling.
It feels great to know that you have become a role model. It may not sink in yet but it makes you look back to when you looked up to players.”
Having been teammates on two separate occasions, first with the Ivy League’s Cornell Big Red and subsequently in a gold medal effort at Sochi 2014, Rebecca Johnston and Lauriane Rougeau are among two of the game’s shining stars. Their experience in Malmo saw them joined by fellow Cornell alumnae such as Jessica Campbell, Laura Fortino, and Brianne Jenner.
As both are popular players at CWHL postgame autograph sessions, it is not uncommon to see youngsters bring them their cards to sign. Taking into account the increasing number of women’s hockey cards becoming available, they are destined to become more visible at CWHL games.
With the advent of social media, part of the autograph experience for these young fans also involves proudly taking pictures of their newly signed keepsakes, subsequently posting them. While the acquisition of an autograph, especially on a favorite card, represents a happy moment for any fan, it is equally exciting for players such as Johnston to be able to brighten someone’s day,
“Yes, it is very exciting to sign one of my very own hockey cards. It is great to know that there are fans who want my hockey card signed.”
While collecting will never match its heyday from the 1980s and 1990s, there will always be feelings of nostalgia for Canadian fans that is associated with hockey cards. Taking into account the progressive impact of women’s hockey over the last 25 years, the contributions of these pioneering competitors is just as much a part of the modern mythmaking that shapes Canada’s cultural fabric, while giving a new generation of young girls an exciting group of role models to look up to and collect.
For the women who have earned the privilege of donning the Canadian jersey in recent years, their efforts are immortalized on a hockey card, allowing them the chance to enjoy the same rite of passage that NHL rookies once enjoyed. It is one that Spooner, like so many of her teammates, has appreciated,
“I really applaud Upper Deck for adding female players to their hockey packs. The women’s game has come so far and now little girls can start collecting their favorite players just like I did when I was a kid. Only this time, there will some female role models in the mix!"
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”