With an increase in the availability of women’s hockey cards over the last few years, it has proven for fans and players alike to generate momentum, one that is poised to help the game grow. Adding a unique aspect to this year’s women’s hockey card release, part of Upper Deck’s Team Canada Juniors set, is the fact that many future stars have earned the cardboard treatment.
For generations of collectors throughout Canada and the United States, hockey cards represented a way to get closer to the game. Young women now get the chance to obtain that same strong emotional link to the female hockey heroes they admire, hoping to emulate their glories.
One of the younger players on Canada’s national team that has blossomed into an exceptional talent is Bailey Bram. Having competed for Canada at the 2013 and 2015 IIHF Women’s Worlds, she is the first woman from Manitoba to have competed on Hockey Canada’s U18, U22/Development and Senior teams. As a side note, she played alongside her sister Shelby at the NCAA level with Mercyhurst College and on the U22/Development Team in a bronze medal outcome at the Meco Cup. Family pride certainly defined Bram’s rookie card experience,
“The reaction from my family and friends was awesome! My dad could not believe his eyes, and my mom right away framed the card on a shelf at home. I know whenever friends or family see it they all think it’s pretty neat, definitely a pretty special feeling.”
Having collected as a child, Halli Krzyzaniak joins Bram and Jocelyne Larocque as another proud Manitoban ecstatic over getting the chance to appear on a hockey card. A product of the Pursuit of Excellence hockey academy, she obtained a pair of gold medals at the 2012 and 2013 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds.
Currently a star at the NCAA level with the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Krzyzaniak, who was raised in Neepawa, Manitoba, followed in Bram’s footsteps, competing at all three levels of Hockey Canada’s women’s teams. Making her debut for the senior team in Malmo, she was jubilant about the rookie card experience that defined her presence in the 2015-16 set.
“Being on a hockey card is certainly a cool experience. Growing up, we always collected Upper Deck cards and looked up to the players on them, so to see my face on one alongside some really great players is an awesome feeling.”
Other members of Canada’s roster in Malmo that have rookie cards in the 2015-16 set include goaltenders Ann-Renee Desbiens and Emerance Maschmeyer, along with forward Emily Clark, who plays with Desbiens for the Wisconsin Badgers. Akin to Krzyzaniak, Maschmeyer also enjoyed card collecting at a younger age. As the first female goaltender from Alberta to compete at Canada’s U18, U22/Development and Senior levels, the chance to appear on the same Upper Deck cards that she once collected only added to the jubilation of a remarkable career milestone.
“I used to collect Upper Deck hockey cards of all of my favorite hockey players when I was younger. To see my face on a card with a Hockey Canada logo is a rewarding and surreal feeling.”
Although six other players made their debut for Canada in Malmo, their presence in the 2015-16 set surprisingly did not reflect rookie card status. Said six include blueliner Brigette Lacquette, forwards Jessica Campbell, Sarah Davis, Jamie Lee Rattray, Jillian Saulnier and Kelly Terry, who enjoyed their first appearances on a hockey card in a previous set.
As members of the 2010 squad that captured Canada’s first gold medal at the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, all roster players were featured on cards from Upper Deck’s 2010-11 World of Sports set. For seasoned collectors that remember the World of Sports set, the chance to collect such players again is testament to the growth of the game and their impact as future stars that may be given strong consideration for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.
Currently a star with the McGill Martlets program, Melodie Daoust, who scored the gold medal clinching goal at the 2010 IIHF U18 Worlds, was also part of the 2010-11 World of Sports set. Having also competed with the gold medal winning Canadian contingent from Sochi, Daoust enjoyed the opportunity to be included in the 2014-15 edition of Upper Deck’s Team Canada Juniors set, her second hockey card experience. Despite such a great milestone, Daoust surprisingly revealed that her friends did not ask for any cards,
“Acutally no (laughs). Upper Deck sent me some cards but it was just my parents who wanted them. But, I just think it is a good way for women’s hockey to get more popularity now. Fans just see it way more now. It is good as it is important for women’s sports.”
There is no question that Daoust’s observation is an accurate one. In the last decade, more female athletes from a wide range of sports have been featured on trading cards than at any other time. From appearances in card sets such as Goodwin Champions (owned by Upper Deck), Upper Deck Golf, Allen and Ginter, Donruss Americana, Rittenhouse (the company that manufactures WNBA trading cards) along with US Olympic Sets issued by Topps, collectors are recognizing that female athletes have a rightful place among their cardboard treasures.
Among the athletes featured in Upper Deck’s Team Canada Juniors set in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, Tara Watchorn’s cards are quickly becoming part of many hockey card collections. In the last 18 months, Watchorn has experienced some remarkable moments in her personal and hockey life.
Competing as a member of Canada’s blueline corps, she had the chance to capture a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Among her teammates at Sochi was Catherine Ward, who recently announced her retirement from the national team. This means that Watchorn will definitely be counted upon to replace such a big loss.
The experience for Wathcorn in Sochi proved to be crucial, as she was an essential component of the Boston Blades run towards the 2015 Clarkson Cup. As a side note, she was one of only two Canadian players (including goaltender Genevieve Lacasse) to have held roster spots on the Cup championship team. Having also recently married, the hockey card treatment is truly the icing on the cake.
“My friends and family think it is pretty cool. You do not necessarily realize it at the time or remember right away what it was like to be a kid and have a hockey card of the player you really look up to, but it is a pretty cool thing.”
Perhaps future Team Canada sets will include female members from the U18 team, paying homage to the World of Sport set, or the U22/Development Team, which has experienced many glories at the Nations Cup level (once known as the MLP Cup and the Meco Cup).
Another consideration is the possible inclusion of the ladies that compete for Canada in the Four Nations Cup. Traditionally, the event has served as an opportunity for the Canadian team to evaluate talent, giving less experienced players a chance to compete at the Senior level. Such competitors from that roster also deserve the chance to be given the cardboard treatment.
It was the late Jefferson Burdick, a noted collector during the Great Depression and into the early years of the post World War II era who once stated that cards are a “glorious window into the past”. As women’s hockey cards are destined to become part of sporting Canadiana, becoming a spiritual link to the rise of the game, it preserves the grandeur and brilliance of these remarkable women for future observation, truly gazing into that glorious window, reflecting on a splendid snapshot in time, preserving their cherished time as hockey icons.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”