The National Women's Hockey League continues its offseason with numerous player signings, its first international draft and several front office moves. In case you've missed anything over the last few weeks, let's take a look at what's happened in the league.
Women from the United States, Canada, Finland, and Sweden converge on Vierumaki, Finland for the 2016 Four Nations Cup, which begins Tuesday.
The United States open its tournament on Tuesday against Sweden at 12:30 PM ET. Canada and Finland also face off at 12:30 PM. While USA/Sweden will not be streamed, Canada/Finland will be streamed today by Leijonat, the Finnish national ice hockey federation. See the full streaming schedule from Leijonat here. All of the streams appear to be available for free via Livestream.com.
The American squad includes seven players from the Minnesota Whitecaps, including two goaltenders: Alex Rigsby and Shelby Amsley-Benzie. Stephanie Anderson, Hannah Brandt, Kendall Coyne, Jocelyne and Monique Lamoreux round out the crop of Minnesota Whitecaps players suiting up for Team USA.
They're joined by a slew of NWHL players, including a non-surprising six Boston Pride skaters. Alex Carpenter, Meghan Duggan, and Hilary Knight are just three of the well-known Pride players on the roster. Kacey Bellamy, Amanda Pelkey, and Brianna Decker are also suiting up in the red, white and blue.
Pelkey joined the squad to replace the injured Amanda Kessel. Carpenter and Decker each have three goals and six points this season so far, tied for third in points in the NWHL.
Buffalo's Megan Bozek, Emily Pfalzer and Anne Schleper also represent the NWHL on Team USA, as do Connecticut Whale forwards Haley Skarupa, Kelli Stack and Dana Trivigno. Skarupa leads the NWHL with five goals and has also added four assists, leading the league with nine points so far this season.
Rounding out Team USA is Boston College defender Megan Kelley, University of Wisconsin forward Annie Pankowski and University of Minnesota defender Lee Stecklein.
The United States is looking to continue its winning ways, having captured the gold medal in last year's tournament - but they'll need to beat out a tough Team Canada to do it.
This year's Canadian team for Four Nations is
stacked with talented players, a majority of whom are coming from the CWHL.
There's just three exceptions: Hockey Canada forward Meghan Agosta; Jennifer Wakefield, playing with Linkoping HC, and McGill University's Melodie Daoust.
Nine players from the Calgary Inferno, including a pair of netminders, will suit up for Canada. Emerance Maschmeyer and Genevieve Lacasse are the one-two punch in goal, with Brampton's Erica Howe on tap as the third goaltender.
Inferno forwards Rebecca Johnston, Bailey Bram, Brianne Jenner, Haley Irwin, Jessica Campbell and Sarah Davis are also on Team Canada, along with Calgary defender Brigette Lacquette. Johnston and Lacquette have averaged a point-per-game so far this season with two points each in as many games.
In addition to their goaltender Howe, five other Thunder are also on the Canadian team: defenders Jocelyne Larocque, Laura Fortino and Courtney Birchard; and forwards Jamie Lee Rattray and Laura Stacey. Stacey leads the Thunder with four points (2-2) in as many games this season, while Fortino has three points (1-2) in four games.
Four Toronto Furies and one player from Les Canadiennes de Montreal round out the roster. Erin Ambrose and Renata Fast finish out the defense, while Jenelle Kohanchuk, Natalie Spooner, and Marie-Philip Poulin at forward are consistent scoring threats.
Spooner is right at the top of the helm for the Furies this season, off to a great start with seven points (4-3) in just four games, including one game-winning goal. Right up there with her is Poulin, with an equal seven points (3-4) in four games. Poulin is a plus-6 on the season with a pair of game-winning goals.
Montreal's Lauriane Rougeau was also invited, but is unable to attend this year's Four Nations Cup due to injury. She was replaced by Lacquette.
For the most part, the Swedish Four Nations roster is a composite of players from other Swedish-league teams, including MODO Hockey, Djurgårdens Stockholm IF and AIK Stockholm.
MODO has six representatives at Four Nations: defenders Ebby Berglund, Joanna Olofsson and Annie Svedin; and forwards Olivia Carlsson, Nathalie Ferno and Erika Grahm.
Four players from Djurgårdens Stockholm IF also made the roster: goaltender Lovisa Berndtsson and forwards Hanna Olsson, Julia Ostlund and Rebecca Stenberg.
An additional four players come from AIK Stockholm: defenders Emmy Alasalmi and Linnea Backman, and forwards Sara Hjalmarsson and Lisa Johansson.
Brynäs IF netminder Sarah Grahn, defender Jessica Adolfsson and forward Anna Borgqvist will represent their team at Four Nations. Leksand IF's Elin Lundberg, Linköping HC's Emilia Ramboldty and Luleå HF's Johanna Fallman round out the defense.
HV 71 Jönköping's Fanny Rask, IF Sunsdvall Hockey's Erica Uden Johansson round out the forward lines. Maria Lindh and Michelle Löwenhielm, both out of the University of Minnesota Duluth, will also represent Team Sweden. Lindh has four points (1-3) in ten games this season, while Löwenhielm has three assists.
The Finnish team for Four Nations, like the Swedish team, is a composite of players from other teams. Some are playing in Finland, some in Sweden; some in the United States, and even one in Canada. Put together, it makes for an interesting group.
One of the biggest names: goaltender Noora Räty, of men's pro team KJT Keski-Uusimaa. She'll be joined in net by Karpat Oulu's Anni Keisala.
Keisala's teammates, defender Isa Rahunen and forward Niina Mäkinen, will also join her at Four Nations. Team Kuortane's Sini Karjalainen, Petra Nieminen and Sara Säkkinen were also named to the Finnish squad. Espoo's Linda Välimäki, Lukko Rauma's Susanna Tapani, KalPa Kuopio's Tanja Niskanen and Ilves Tampere's Sari Kärnä are others on the team currently playing for Finnish teams regularly.
Out of the Swedish league come HC Luleå's Jenni Hiirikoski, Ronja Savolainen, Michelle Karvinen and Noora Tulus. HC Linköping's Minnamari Tuominen, HV 71's Rosa Lindstedt and Riikka Välilä will also represent Finland. Välilä, now 43, is the longest-tenured member of Team Finland and has been a consistent scorer for the team.
Vilma Tanskanen and Anna Kilponen will both join the team from the University of North Dakota, while Sanna Valkama comes up from the University of Vermont. Rounding out the roster is Venla Hovi from the University of Manitoba.
(Photo credit: USA Hockey/Twitter)
Filed under: ice hockey; four nations cup; team finland; team usa; team sweden; team canada
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