With the captain’s C adorning her jersey, Chelsea Karpenko emerged as one of Canada’s heroes at the 2022 ISBHF Women’s Worlds. Recording eight points, ranking in the top 10 in tournament scoring, the Winnipeg-raised forward proved essential in the chase for back-to-back gold medals.
Prior to wearing the Maple Leaf in ISBHF competition, Karpenko assembled a solid body of work on the ice. Having logged over 125 points for the Cornell Big Red women’s ice hockey team, Karpenko also skated for Canada’s U18 and U22/Developmental teams.
Although a shoulder injury prevented Karpenko from continuing her on-ice pursuits, she remained an elite athlete. Competing for Canada at the international level in bobsleigh, the opportunity to put stick in hand on the slab brought her athletic journey full circle. With a sporting resume boasting competition at the CBHA Nationals, plus a pair of ISBHF Worlds, Karpenko has successfully juggled an admirable career as a police officer.
A member of Canada’s gold medal winning team from the 2019 ISBHF Worlds in Kosice, Slovakia, Karpenko enjoyed her second gold wearing the Maple Leaf. Enriching such a milestone involved the exciting fact that the 2022 edition of the Worlds was contested in Canada. Held at the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, the jubilation of gold on home soil stands as a seminal moment for the talented forward.
“Winning a World Championship is tough to do, in any sport! When you do, it is one of the best feelings you can have in a lifetime. So, being able to compete and win a World Championship on home soil made it that much more special!
An opportunity like that does not come around too often. I am glad we were able to make the most of it, and celebrate with family and friends who have been supporting the team along the way.”
Among the plethora of highlights in tournament play for Karpenko, the prestige of Player of the Game honors represented a highly proud, yet surprising moment. With the host Canadians enjoying a 12-0 whitewash over Great Britain, 14 different players logged at least one point. Contributing four points in the victory, including a pair of goals, Karpenko earned the honor. Coincidentally, Reagan Fischer, who played ice hockey against Karpenko with Cornell rival Dartmouth, earned the assists on both of her goals versus Great Britain, part of a five assist performance.
“Honestly, I was just excited to win! Playing on a team with so much talent, there is probably a number of people every game that could be awarded Player of the Game. Being given the honours against Great Britain was just an added bonus to a great team effort.”
Opposing rival Slovakia in the semifinals, a hard-fought 3-2 final saw seven different Canadians log at least one point. Punching their ticket to the gold medal game, the victory was attributed to Karpenko’s goal. Finding the back of the net at 30:39, with ISBHF Hall of Fame inductee Kristen Cooze and defender Rebecca Ring logging the assists, it marked the third consecutive goal for Canada. Although Bela Lopusanova trimmed the Canadian lead, goaltender Julianna Thomson held on to preserve the 3-2 advantage.
Discussing the intensity of the contest, a result just as thrilling as the gold medal game, also a 3-2 final, an aspect of humility encompasses Karpenko’s reflections. With a strong focus on team first, efficiency and reliability serving as true highlights, a tinge of modesty cannot overshadow one of the greatest goals of the event, and her accomplished career.
“Yes, I guess you could say that? It is funny how when you want to win so bad, you are not even thinking about game winning goals and whatnot. For me, it was just ‘How can I help my team win? How can I contribute?’
That could mean blocking a huge shot, drawing a penalty, winning key face-offs, etc. In the case of the World Championship semi-finals against Slovakia, it happened to be scoring the game winning goal! Scoring the goal was awesome, but hanging on to win and go to the Gold Medal game was even better.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”