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Excellence on ice

Celebrating the Black Canadians who have worn the Maple Leaf at the Olympic Winter Games

Jason La Rose
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February 07, 2022

With the drop of the puck in Beijing, another Olympic Winter Games is underway and another chapter of Team Canada hockey history is set to be written in China.

As part of Black History Month, let’s take a look back at the five Black athletes who have helped – and are helping – write that history.

DARREN LOWE

1984 – 7GP 2G 2A 4P (4th place)

The trailblazer, Lowe became Canada’s first Black Olympian at the 1984 Games in Sarajevo. The Toronto product scored twice – getting the Canadians even early in the third period of an eventual 4-2 win over Finland and counting the game-winner in an 8-1 win over Austria – and added a pair of assists, putting his name on the scoresheet in each of the first four games (all Canadian wins).

CLAUDE VILGRAIN

1988 – 6GP 0G 0A 0P (4th place)

Born in Haiti and raised in Quebec City, Vilgrain was a Team Canada staple in the mid-1980s, playing 145 games with Canada’s National Men’s Team from 1986-88. That run concluded in Calgary, where he went scoreless in six games in the home-ice Games.

JAROME IGINLA

2002 – 6GP 3G 1A 4P (gold medal)
2006 – 6GP 2G 1A 3P (7th place)
2010 – 7GP 5G 2A 7P (gold medal)

The 2021 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee was front and centre in a pair of games that will forever have a place in Olympic hockey lore. In 2002, the St. Albert, Alta., native scored twice and added an assist in a 5-2 gold medal game win over the U.S. that ended a 50-year drought for Canada. Eight years later, cries of ‘Iggy! Iggy! Iggy!’ rang in the ears of Canadian fans as Iginla set up Sidney Crosby for the Golden Goal in Vancouver.

P.K. SUBBAN

2014 – 1GP 0G 0A 0P (gold medal)

Has there ever been a better seventh defenceman? As part of a deep Canadian blue-line, Subban – the reigning Norris Trophy winner – got into just a single game in Sochi, playing 11:41 in a 6-0 prelim win over Austria.

SARAH NURSE

2018 – 5GP 1G 0A 1P (silver medal)

The first Black woman to wear red and white on the biggest stage in sports, Nurse netted just a single goal in PyeongChang, but it was a beauty in a big game – she wired home the game-winner in a 2-1 preliminary-round victory over the U.S. The Hamilton, Ont., product is back for a second Games in Beijing, eyeing a bigger role and a different finish.

Jon Cooper.
© Tampa Bay Lightning/Mark Lomoglio

Jon Cooper named head coach for 2025 4 Nations Face-Off and 2026 Olympic Winter Games

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach returns to Team Canada for first time since 2017

NR.040.24
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June 25, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced that veteran National Hockey League (NHL) head coach Jon Cooper (Prince George, BC/Tampa Bay, NHL) will lead Canada at the 2025 4 Nations Face-Off and 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

The Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss and longest-tenured active head coach in the NHL will make his return to the Team Canada bench for the first time since 2017, when he led Canada’s National Men’s Team to a silver medal at the 2017 IIHF World Championship.

Cooper was selected by Doug Armstrong (Sarnia, ON/St. Louis, NHL), management group lead for Canada’s National Men’s Team and general manager for the 2026 Olympics, as well as Don Sweeney (St. Stephen, NB/Boston, NHL) and Jim Nill (Hanna, AB/Dallas, NHL), who make up the management group for the 2025 4 Nations Face-Off and 2026 Olympics. Player relations advisor Ryan Getzlaf (Regina, SK/Anaheim, NHL) and Scott Salmond (Creston, BC), senior vice-president of high performance and hockey operations, along with Katherine Henderson (Thunder Bay, ON), Hockey Canada’s president and chief executive officer, and Pat McLaughlin (Saint John, NB), chief operating officer and executive vice-president of strategy, also provided input as part of the executive committee preparing for the 2026 Olympics.

 “Jon is a world-class person, coach and leader, and his impressive resume and success in the NHL make him the perfect person to lead Team Canada over the next two years at the 4 Nations Face-Off and 2026 Olympic Winter Games,” Armstrong said. “Our management group knows that Jon will represent our country with pride while bringing his winning pedigree to the international stage, and we look forward to working with him as we build teams with the best NHL players in Canada at two marquee events.”

Cooper recently completed his 12th season as head coach of the Lightning, and is the franchise’s all-time leader in regular season games coached (879), regular season wins (480), playoff games coached (139) and playoff wins (84). During his time with the Lightning, he has led the team to 10 playoff appearances, one Presidents’ Trophy (2018-19) and four Stanley Cup Finals (2015, 2020, 2021, 2022), winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021. Prior to joining Tampa Bay, he spent two seasons (2010-12) with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL), winning the Calder Cup and AHL Coach of the Year Award in 2011-12, and part of one season with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. Internationally, in addition to his silver medal in 2017, he served as an assistant coach with Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He was also announced as head coach of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team for the 2022 Olympics if NHL players participated.

The first six players for the 4 Nations Face-Off are expected to be announced in late June, while additional announcements regarding Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team will be made at a later date.

The 4 Nations Face-Off is a new international event that will feature NHL players from Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States. The seven-game event will take place Feb. 12-20 at the Bell Centre in Montréal, Québec, home of the Montréal Canadiens, and TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, home of the Boston Bruins.

For more information on Hockey Canada, Canada’s National Men’s Team and Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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Don Sweeney and Jim Nill.

Management group named for 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off

Don Sweeney to serve as general manager alongside associate GM Jim Nill

NR.021.24
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April 12, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced that two veteran National Hockey League (NHL) general managers will lead Canada at the inaugural NHL 4 Nations Face-Off next February.

Don Sweeney (St. Stephen, NB/Boston, NHL) will make his international management debut as general manager, working alongside associate general manager Jim Nill (Hanna, AB/Dallas, NHL), who will return to Canada’s management group for the first time since 2015.

In addition, Sweeney and Nill have been named assistant general managers of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. They will work alongside Doug Armstrong (Sarnia, ON/St. Louis, NHL), who was named general manager in March.

The management group was selected by Armstrong, who serves as management group lead for Canada’s National Men’s Team, player relations advisor Ryan Getzlaf (Regina, SK/Anaheim, NHL) and Scott Salmond (Creston, BC), senior vice-president of high performance and hockey operations. Katherine Henderson (Thunder Bay, ON), Hockey Canada’s president and chief executive officer, and Pat McLaughlin (Saint John, NB), chief operating officer and executive vice-president of strategy, also provided input as part of the executive committee preparing for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

“As we continue to prepare for international competition over the next two years, I am thrilled to have Don and Jim lead Team Canada at the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off, and to welcome these two experienced general managers to our management group for the 2026 Olympics,” Armstrong said. “Both Don and Jim have enjoyed successful NHL careers and will represent the Maple Leaf with pride, and we know their experience will be a valuable asset as we build teams for two major international events in 2025 and 2026.”

Sweeney is in his ninth season (2015-24) as general manager of the Boston Bruins, winning the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award in 2018-19 and leading the team to eight-consecutive playoff appearances and two Presidents’ Trophies (2020, 2023). He also served six seasons (2009-15) as assistant general manager, three seasons as director of player development (2006-09) and two seasons (2007-09) as director of hockey operations with the Bruins. As an executive, Sweeney has helped lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final three times (2011, 2013, 2019), winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. He also served one season (2014-15) as general manager of the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League (AHL), and was announced as an assistant general manager of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team for the 2022 Olympics if NHL players participated. As a player, he played in 1,115 NHL games over 16 seasons with the Bruins and Dallas Stars, appearing in the Stanley Cup Final with the Bruins in 1990, and won a gold medal with Canada at the 1997 IIHF World Championship.

Nill has served as the general manager of the Dallas Stars for the past 11 seasons (2013-24), winning GM of the Year in 2022-23 and leading the team to seven playoff appearances and the Stanley Cup Final in 2020. He also spent 19 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, serving as assistant general manager (1998-2013) and director of player development (1994-98), helping lead Detroit to the Stanley Cup Final six times (1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2009), winning the Stanley Cup four times (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008). Nill was also the GM of the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings for one season (1988-89), leading the team to a Calder Cup championship, and a professional scout with the Ottawa Senators for three seasons (1991-94). Internationally, he has served as director of player personnel (2003) and general manager (2004, 2015) of Canada’s National Men’s Team at the IIHF World Championship, winning gold in 2004 and 2015. As a player, Nill played 524 career NHL games, played in the Stanley Cup Final with the Vancouver Canucks in 1982, suited up for Canada’s National Men’s Team during the 1979-80 season and wore the Maple Leaf at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

The coaching staff and first six players for the 2025 NHL Four Nations Face-Off are expected to be announced in June, while additional announcements regarding Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team will be made at a later date.

The 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off is a new international event that will feature NHL players from Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States. The event will take place in two North American cities – one in Canada and one in the United States – in February 2025 and will consist of seven games played with NHL rules.

For more information on Hockey Canada, Canada’s National Men’s Team and Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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Doug Armstrong.

Doug Armstrong named general manager for 2026 Olympic Winter Games

Veteran GM to serve as management group lead for Canada’s National Men’s Team over next two seasons; Ryan Getzlaf, Scott Salmond among executive committee members

NR.014.24
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March 15, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced that Doug Armstrong (Sarnia, ON/St. Louis, NHL) will serve as general manager of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team at the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and as management group lead for Canada’s National Men’s Team, overseeing the appointment of management groups that will lead Team Canada at various events over the next two seasons.

In preparation for the 2026 Olympics, Armstrong will serve on an executive committee with Ryan Getzlaf (Regina, SK/Anaheim, NHL), who will serve as player relations advisor, Scott Salmond (Creston, BC), senior vice-president of high performance and hockey operations, Katherine Henderson (Thunder Bay, ON), president and chief executive officer, and Pat McLaughlin (Saint John, NB), chief operating officer and executive vice-president of strategy.

Armstrong will oversee Team Canada at the 2024 IIHF World Championship, 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off and 2025 IIHF World Championship, appointing and working with Canadian general managers and executives to help build Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team for the 2026 Olympics. Getzlaf will work directly with Armstrong and Salmond, acting as a liaison between athletes, the executive committee and management groups for the four upcoming events, ensuring consistency between teams, athletes and staff.

“There is a wealth of experienced and successful Canadian executives throughout the NHL, and we believe Doug is the best person to lead our National Men’s Team and build our management groups from a talented pool of executives at each event leading up to and including the 2026 Olympics,” McLaughlin said. “Doug and Ryan both bring accomplished careers and many years of NHL and international experience to Hockey Canada, and Scott has been instrumental in the success of Canada’s national teams at all levels for more than 20 years.

“We know all three individuals will be invaluable pieces of our executive committee as we build teams that will make Canadians proud over the next two years. Wearing the Maple Leaf is an honour and a privilege, and our executive committee is committed to ensuring our players and staff are supported on and off the ice to achieve continued success, while upholding the character and values that Canadians expect of our organization and teams.”

Armstrong has won two Olympic gold medals as a member of the management group with Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team (2010, 2014), as well as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey championship as general manager. He was also announced as general manager of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team for the 2022 Olympics if NHL players participated. Armstrong has won gold medals at the IIHF World Championship in 2007 (special assistant), 2016 (senior advisor) and 2023 (general manager), and silver in 2008 (assistant general manager) and 2009 (general manager). He was also part of the Worlds staff in 2002 and 2013. Armstrong is in his 14th season (2010-24) as general manager of the St. Louis Blues, also serving as president of hockey operations, winning the Stanley Cup in 2019 and the NHL GM of the Year Award in 2011-12. He recently became the 11th NHL general manager to record 800 career wins, and is the second-fastest to reach 800 win milestone. Armstrong previously spent 16 years (1992-2008) with the Dallas Stars, winning the Stanley Cup as assistant general manager in 1999.

Getzlaf is set to make his international management debut after a 17-year playing career with the Anaheim Ducks (2005-22), with whom he served as captain for 12 seasons (2010-22) and won the Stanley Cup in 2007. Getzlaf appeared in 1,157 NHL games, recording 1,019 points (282 goals, 737 assists), appearing in three NHL All-Star Games (2008, 2009, 2015). Internationally, he won gold medals at the 2003 IIHF World U18 Championship, 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship, and 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games, in addition to the2016 World Cup of Hockey. Getzlaf also won silver at the 2004 World Juniors and 2008 IIHF World Championship, suited up at the 2002 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and captained Team Canada at the 2012 Worlds. He is in his first season as player development coordinator with Anaheim.

Salmond was promoted to senior vice-president of hockey operations with Hockey Canada in 2018 after serving as vice-president of national teams for four years. In this position, Salmond oversees all operations for Canada’s men’s, women’s and para hockey teams. He has helped lead Canada to gold medals at two Olympic Winter Games (2010, 2014), six IIHF World Championships (2003, 2004, 2015, 2016, 2021, 2023), seven IIHF World Junior Championships (2007, 2008, 2009, 2015, 2018, 2022, 2023), two IIHF U18 World Championships (2013, 2021), one IPC World Para Hockey Championship (2017) and one Paralympic Winter Games (2006), as well as a World Cup of Hockey championship (2016) and a Spengler Cup three-peat (2015, 2016, 2017). Salmond joined Hockey Canada in 2001 and has held increasingly senior high-performance roles during his tenure with the organization.

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s National Men’s Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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Jaques ready for what comes next

After a decorated academic and athletic career at Ohio State University, Sophie Jaques is using her place in the game – with Team Canada and in the PWHL – to inspire the next generation

Jonathan Yue
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February 21, 2024

Sophie Jaques had plans to pursue a career in civil engineering.

Instead, the 23-year-old finds herself living out her dream as a professional hockey player with PWHL Minnesota.

“It’s been a really exciting time for women’s hockey,” Jaques says. “It’s been great to play alongside the best players in the world and learn from all their experiences.”

Jaques was born in Toronto and grew up in the city's west end, where she developed an early love for hockey.

“I started playing hockey at Rennie Park by my house,” she recalls. “I really liked it, so my parents put me in a learn-to-play program and I fell in love with the game from there.

“I remember always having a smile on my face and enjoying the time with my friends, enjoying hot chocolate and those little things like jumping into the snowbank after the Zamboni came off the ice.”

While attending Silverthorn Collegiate in Etobicoke, Jaques played three seasons with the Toronto Aeros of the Provincial Women's Hockey League — now called the Ontario Women's Hockey League — winning league championships in 2016 and 2018.

Jaques recalls spending countless hours working on her game throughout her early years.

“I went to a lot of shooting clinics when I was younger, working on my shot in the backyard, and I think that helped take my shot to the next level and [it is] something I continue to use every time I step on the ice now.”

That level of commitment is what helped set Jaques apart, whether it was hockey or academics — something that became extremely evident in her five seasons at Ohio State University.

[Photo or social media post goes here]

Making history at OSU

Jaques’ teammates and coaches in Columbus describe her as an easygoing and brilliant student-athlete, but it was on the ice where her character and strength shone through with the Buckeyes.

“Things come naturally for Sophie,” says Nadine Muzerall, women’s hockey head coach at Ohio State. “Seeing her maturity grow over the years, her confidence was a big piece of that growth, and finding success on the ice, she became a leader.”

As a rookie in 2018-19, she led all OSU rookies with 21 points (6-15—21) before topping that with 24 points (9-15—24) as a sophomore.

After posting just two goals and four points in 20 games during the COVID-affected 2020-21 season, Jaques exploded as a senior. her 59 points (21-38—59) in 38 games rank as the second-most by a defender in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) history and the most in Ohio State history. Her contributions led the Buckeyes to their first NCAA national championship and put the women’s hockey world on notice.

“It finally all just clicked that season,” says Jaques. “I developed more confidence in myself, and it allowed me to play at my best. The next season, I wanted to prove that it wasn’t a one-off season, that it wasn’t a fluke that senior season, and that I could play that way."

Jaques returned for a fifth year and picked up right where she left off. Not only did she earn a fellowship from OSU to fund her final year to complete her master’s degree in civil engineering, Jaques put up another 48 points (24-24—48) in 41 games, becoming the first Black woman and only the 10th Canadian to be awarded the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the best women’s hockey player in the NCAA.

“She’s one of the best defencemen to play college hockey and the fact that she joined before OSU was number one in the country, and she helped build this program, that says a lot about her character and being a builder,” Muzerall says.

Jaques filled her trophy case at Ohio State; in addition to the Kazmaier Award, she was a two-time First Team All-American, two-time WCHA Defender of the Year, WCHA Player of the Year, WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete and a four-time member of the WCHA All-Academic Team.

In 2022, she won the Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sport Scholar of the Year, an honour presented to a minority woman who has distinguished herself in her academic and athletic pursuits..

“I’ve coached a lot of people who had success, but I’ve very rarely coached someone as successful as Sophie,” says Muzerall. “In terms of point production as a defenceman, she’s the only person from Ohio State and all its respected programs to win the Arthur Ashe award, and she humbly accepted it. She was receiving national recognition, not just as a hockey player, but as a brilliant student-athlete, and that has never been done before.”

Reaching out to the community

Jaques’ achievements on and off the ice as a student-athlete only grew the game as her influence and leadership were felt among the young girls and boys in the community.

After finishing her college career last spring, Jaques returned home to Toronto to team up with Saroya Tinker to host the first Black Girl Hockey Club Canada summer camp, sharing her knowledge and experience with the next generation in the community she grew up in.

“At the beginning, it was something that I didn’t really know was happening, but I’m grateful to be in the position where I can inspire others,” Jaques says. “I want to help get more girls into hockey, and hopefully break down more barriers surrounding the game. It’s incredible to know now that I can play a small part in continuing to grow the game.”

Her reach only grew last November when she made her debut for Canada’s National Women’s Team in Los Angeles during the Rivalry Series.

“It was an incredibly grateful feeling to represent my country,” Jaques says. “Playing alongside someone like Jocelyn Larocque, who I watched when I was a young girl, and being around all those girls who have been pioneers for the women’s game, to finally get the chance to wear that jersey with that group, was incredible.”



Emma Maltais, who played with Jaques at Ohio State, was more than happy to welcome her friend to the national team. Before the game, it was Maltais who handed Jaques her Team Canada jersey.

“Sophie’s been dreaming of that moment for a long time,” says Maltais. “She’s so humble and for someone who is so good, there’s a calmness to her while she plays at such a high level. She’s so driven as a person too, in athletics and academics, and that speaks a lot to her as a person and her willingness to go the extra mile to find success.”

Trailblazer once again

After her outstanding college career, Jaques made history by becoming the first-ever Black player and the first Buckeye to be drafted into the PWHL when she was taken 10th overall by Boston — something that wasn’t even an option for her a year ago.

She made history once again earlier this month by being part of the very first PWHL trade when she was dealt to Minnesota.

“I'm really grateful that this year, it is a sustainable league with liveable wages so that I could pursue hockey,” she says. "With the PWHL being here, it helps with the next generation of Black hockey players see representation and show them that it is possible and keep them motivated in their journeys."

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Questions & Answers with Esther Madziya

The Hockey Canada communications manager opens up about her career path, working in sports media as a minority woman and what she’s telling the next generation

Jason La Rose
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February 07, 2024

If you’re a working media member that has covered Canada’s National Women’s Team over the last four years, you know the name Esther Madziya.

But if you’re not and you don’t, you should.

A Hockey Canada communications manager, Madziya was part of the staff with the Olympic gold medal-winning team at Beijing 2022, sandwiched around a pair of IIHF Women’s World Championship gold medals, spending weeks and months on end in bubbles and quarantines during the COVID-19 pandemic, away from family and friends, with that singular golden goal in mind.

Outside of her Team Canada work, Madziya is an integral part of the Hockey Canada family, and was recognized for her contributions with the Hal Lewis Award as the organization's staff person of the year for the 2018-19 season.

To celebrate National Women and Girls in Sports Day and Black History Month, HockeyCanada.ca sat down with Madziya to talk about her journey and how the industry has evolved for minority women.

HC: How did you get your start in sports media?

EM: I went to SAIT [the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary] and took the broadcast journalism program. The program has evolved since then, but it was called CTSR – Cinema, Stage, Television and Radio. And then you could specialize in whatever you wanted to do.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do at school. Way back when, I wanted to get into accounting, which is not my jam at all, but I always liked sports. And I thought, ‘You know what, maybe I want to get into sports.’ So I took the broadcast program at SAIT, with the hope of getting into sports broadcasting and one day maybe being on TSN.

I ended up getting a job in radio. I did a practicum in Lethbridge, which is my hometown, at the radio station. The station also had the broadcast rights to Lethbridge Hurricanes games, so I was covering the intermission reports and updating scores and stats, and it just evolved from there.

HC: What was the landscape like in sports media for women when you came out of university?

EM: At that the time, there weren't a lot of women in sports. There was also not a lot of diversity, in broadcasting and in sports in particular.

Growing up, my parents always said, ‘No matter what happens, you are going to have to work harder than the next person. You're going to have to prove yourself all the time, because you are a woman and because you are a minority. Nothing's going to come easy for you.’

So that was just something that always stuck with me. And I remember some of my colleagues at SAIT, as we got closer to graduation, saying that it would be easier for me to get a job because I was a woman and a minority, which I didn’t necessarily agree with. But if being a woman and being a minority was going to get my foot in the door, then you know what, I'll accept it. But at the same time, if I can't do my job, it's not going to keep the door open very long.

It was just the reality of, you're going to have to work twice as hard as the next person if you want to have any opportunities. That was just something that always stuck with me.

HC: You’re coming up on nine years with Hockey Canada later this week; what was the career path to get here?

EM: I worked at the radio station in Lethbridge for four years, working the morning show and doing intermission reports with the Hurricanes. I moved into television at Global Lethbridge for a few years, and in 2002 was lucky enough to get a position as a sports reporter at Global Saskatoon. I focused on a lot of university sports, did men's and women's hockey, reporting on those. That was my beat. Canadian Junior Football, I covered the Saskatoon Hilltops. I covered volleyball, curling – learned a lot about curling – covered a lot of SJHL hockey, minor hockey, all that kind of stuff.

In 2010 there were cutbacks, and the industry as a whole was changing, so I decided to go home to Lethbridge. I went back to the radio station, started doing the morning show again, which I never thought I’d do, and was involved with Hurricanes games on both TV and radio.

A year later, the Hurricanes’ communications manager took another job in the Western Hockey League, and the team offered me the position. I was with the team for four years before the Hockey Canada position came open, and I started in February 2015.

HC: You’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing athletes, travel to amazing places, have a front-row seat to Canadian hockey history. What is that like?

EM: Honestly, it's hard to describe, because unless you're in it, you can't even really describe it. But never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that I'd have the opportunities that have come my way. I never would have imagined that I would have gone to some of the places that I've gone, had the opportunity to work with some of the athletes that I've worked with, had the opportunity to cover events, whether it’s from the event side or being embedded with a team.

I think the other piece that makes it special is what it means to my family. My family is incredibly proud of just seeing that this kid who, when she was younger, probably didn't always have the greatest focus on her studies, is doing what she's doing now.

There are times when I’ve hosted a press conference, and my family tells their friends, ‘That's our kid. That's my sister. That's my daughter.’ They're so proud of that, and that means the world to me, but I also know that I've always tried to be really respectful and try to work hard, and do right by the Madziya name. It means a lot to them, just as much as it means to me.

HC: You’ve mentioned your family a few times, and the influence they’ve had on you. How important has that support system been as you’ve progressed through your career?

EM: No matter what I wanted to do with my life, they've always just been in my corner. And I think for any kid to have their parents say, ‘We're so proud of you, no matter what you do. We see the work that you do,’ it's a cool thing.

Our last name is Madziya. We're the only Madziya family here in Canada, and they're really proud of that. Their support just means a lot, because they've always been there. My mom always says, ‘Look at the opportunities that you've been given, look at the jobs that you've had, and appreciate that. And even though there might be some hard times along the way, those hard times strengthen you and they're the reason that you keep having the opportunities that come your way.’

HC: To be one of the faces of Team Canada with national and international media… does that carry a little more weight, mean a little more, because you’re a minority woman?

EM: Absolutely, because there still is a little bit of, ‘Do I really belong here?’ In the back of my mind, there is still that little bit of… watch how you walk, watch how you carry yourself, watch how you're dealing with somebody, watch how you're dealing with other media, because if you offend somebody, it’s pretty easy to say, ‘Well, it was her.’

In the back of my mind, I'm always still thinking about working twice as hard. I just don't want to make any missteps, because I feel like somebody is just waiting for me to make a mistake to say, ‘See, that person can't do it. She's not qualified. She was just a token hire.’

Those things still play in the back of my mind. I don't think those things will ever not play in the back of my mind.

HC: Women’s hockey has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and you’ve been able to see it up close. What has that been like to watch the game evolve?

EM: It’s pretty cool to see, because there's a lot of hard work that's gone into growing the game, and you see how passionate the athletes are, but you also see how passionate the staff is. So seeing where it's at and seeing so many people work so hard, that brings me a lot of joy, because they had their dreams when they were a little girl. And to see where things are at and to see the things that they've been able to do and accomplish, but to also get a front row seat to it, is pretty cool.

And I think one of the neatest things for me is that because I've been here nine years and have worked up and down the National Women’s Program, and at national events like the National Women’s Under-18 Championship, I’ve been able to see players from 16, 17, 18 years old through to the national team, and see the difference they’re making now. It’s pretty cool to see that progression – as hockey players and as women.

HC: Throughout your career in the media industry, how have you seen the doors open for women, and for minorities?

EM: It's like night and day. The industry has changed for the better. There are more opportunities, more doors opening up today. I think a lot of organizations have looked at their product and asked, ‘Is our TV program, is our news program, is our sports program indicative of what the rest of Canada looks like?’ Because it has to, otherwise you're not going to connect with people and you're going to lose them.

There are so many different avenues today. There are podcasts and influencers and so many other things that people are doing on their own. You're seeing a lot more women in different roles. And we're seeing a lot more of that because it's about hiring the best person that's out there.

HC: What advice do you have for women, or minorities, that want to get into sports but maybe don't feel like they have a path?

EM: If that's what you want to do, pursue it. Don't let anybody stop you. Somebody may say no, a door may close, but it's not no forever, and there's going to be another opportunity. Obviously if somebody says no, it cuts deep, but it just means not right now. Know that you belong there just as much as the next person. At the end of the day, everybody puts their pants on the same way.

So, pursue what you want to do. Don't take no for an answer, do your research, be confident and go in knowing that you know that you can do the job. Treat people with respect, and you'll hopefully get that respect back. Nobody should ever tell you that you don't belong.

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Hockey Canada statements on NHL participation at 2026 and 2030 Olympic Winter Games, 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off

February 02, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – The following are statements on behalf of Hockey Canada on the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) decision to participate in the 2026 and 2030 Olympic Winter Games, and host the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off:

“Earlier today, the NHL, NHLPA and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) made a highly anticipated announcement that NHL players will participate in the 2026 and 2030 Olympic Winter Games, and that the NHL will host the 2025 4 Nations Face-Off. Hockey Canada recognizes this was a lengthy process that required a lot of deliberation and consideration, and we believe this decision is in the best interest of not only Team Canada, but international hockey as a whole.

“The participation of NHL players on the international stage in 2025 and at the Olympics marks a return to best-on-best competition in men’s hockey, and we know this decision will be well-received among the sporting community and hockey fans across the globe. We look forward to supporting our men’s, women’s and para hockey teams in their journey to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

  • Katherine Henderson (Thunder Bay, ON), president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada and co-chair of Canada’s Winter Sport Caucus 

“Representing Canada at the Olympic Winter Games is the pinnacle of sport, and the decision by the NHL and NHLPA to return to the Olympics and host the NHL 4 Nations Face-Off in 2025 is a significant announcement for our organization. We are excited to begin the process of building teams that include the best Canadian NHL players from across the country for the first time since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and to surround those athletes with high-quality management, coaching and support staffs that will do everything they can to help our athletes achieve their goal of winning Olympic gold medals. 

“We look forward to working with our hockey operations staff to build teams for the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off, and the 2026 and 2030 Olympics, with the goal of returning to the top of the podium beginning in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.”

  • Pat McLaughlin (Saint John, NB), Hockey Canada’s chief operating officer and executive vice-president of strategy

For more information on Hockey Canada and the Canada’s National Men’s Team, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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OIS/Joe Toth

Canada finishes fourth at 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games

Di Iorio notches record-tying goal as Canada falls to Finland in a shootout

NR.006.24
|
January 31, 2024

GANGWON, South Korea Canada’s men’s hockey team has finished in fourth place at the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games after falling 5-4 in a shootout to Finland in the bronze medal game Wednesday at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.

Alessandro Di Iorio (Vaughan, ON/Vaughan, GTHL), Tynan Lawrence (Fredericton, NB/Shattuck-St. Mary’s, USHS) and Keaton Verhoeff (Fort Saskatchewan, AB/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) scored 41 seconds apart to give Canada a 3-0 lead less than seven minutes into the first period. Di Iorio’s tally marked his tournament-leading sixth goal, tying Ryan Gropp (2012) for most goals by a Canadian in a single Youth Olympics.

Finland responded with a pair of first-period goals from Jiko Laitinen and Luka Arkko before Wilmer Kallio and Viljo Kahkonen scored in the middle frame to give the Finns a 4-3 lead.

Mathis Preston (Penticton, BC/Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL) evened the score for Canada with just over six minutes remaining in the third period, firing home a cross-crease pass from Ryan Lin (Richmond, BC/Delta Hockey Academy, CSSHL) and sending the game to a shootout.

“I am so proud of our team. We played great the entire tournament, but unfortunately there were a few unlucky bounces that did not go our way,” Di Iorio said. “Wearing the Maple Leaf is an honour, and I know our entire group will remember this experience for a long time.”

Carter Esler (Okotoks, AB/Okotoks, AEHL) was stellar in the Canadian goal, turning aside 32 shots.

“We had a good start to today’s game. We went up by three goals early, but Finland was able to bounce back and put us on our heels,” said Markus Ruck (Osoyoos, BC/Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL). “While we would have loved to go back to Canada with a medal, the Youth Olympics was an amazing experience and everything about our time in Gangwon has been great.”

Canada finished the preliminary round in first place in Group B after wins over South Korea and Finland before losing 6-5 in a shootout to the United States in the semifinals.

Since 2012, Canada has collected one silver medal (2016) and two bronze (2012, 2020) at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

For more information on Hockey Canada and Canada’s men’s hockey team at the Winter Youth Olympic Games, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow through social media on Facebook, X and Instagram, and by using #Gangwon2024 and #YouthOlympics.

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Markus Ruck and Liam Ruck

Bonded as brothers, together through hockey

They learned to skate together, they were drafted by the Medicine Hat Tigers together, and now identical twins Markus and Liam Ruck are wearing the Maple Leaf together at the Youth Olympics

Jonathan Yue
|
January 27, 2024

Markus and Liam Ruck are twins through and through. Born eight minutes apart on Feb. 21, 2008, the brothers have been inseparable on and off the ice ever since.

From playing minor hockey in the small town of Osoyoos, B.C., to rising through the ranks in the South Okanagan Minor Hockey Association, to being drafted by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first round of the 2023 Western Hockey League (WHL) Prospects Draft, Markus and Liam have been by each other’s side, stride by stride.

The Rucks are what the medical community categorizes as mirror identical twins, which is when a pair twins possess opposite traits that mirror each other. Markus is a playmaking left-handed centre, while Liam is the goal-scoring right-handed winger. By definition, they complement each other perfectly.

“We do everything together, on and off the ice,” Liam says. “We’re competitive off the ice, always trying to beat each other, and on the ice, we push each other, want to make each other better, and make our jobs easier out there.”

“It’s been really special to have us together,” Markus adds. “It’s always a little bit easier to have my twin with me throughout my whole life.”

Now, the brothers are making their international debuts together at the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, South Korea.

“We’re going to go out there and show what we can do on the international stage, as a team and as individuals and play the way we play,” says Liam.

“We’re looking forward to putting our names out there, wearing that Canadian jersey,” Markus adds. “The goal is to find success with the team and come back with the gold.”

A family affair

Markus and Liam first hit the ice when they were two years old on the family's backyard rink and then at public skates. By the time they were four, they were already making plays to each other in games. With hockey smarts to back their chemistry, their skills were quickly noticed in their hometown.

“They loved the game from a very young age,” says Jim Liebel, the twins’ coach from ages four to 12. “They were committed to hockey, from shooting in their living room to showing up to the rink. They were soft spoken, but you could tell they really wanted to be hockey players back then. The plays they made, they just knew where the other brother would be, and that connection was just so special to see.”

Their connection has been evident for as long as they’ve been lacing up their skates. In 2018, the pair were members of the B.C. Junior Canucks at The Brick Invitational in Edmonton. Liam finished with a team-leading seven goals and co-led with 10 points. Markus had four points, including two assists, both of which came on goals scored by Liam.

Skating with the U15 Prep team at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C., last season, Liam led the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) with 90 points (53-37—90) in 27 games, just ahead of Markus and his 87 points (22-65—87). So it was no surprise when Liam was selected ninth overall in the WHL draft by the Medicine Hat Tigers, 12 spots before the Tigers traded up to select Markus.

“We love playing together,” Markus says. “We love our give-and go-plays, our passes in between sticks and feet to create those two-on-one opportunities on the ice against the defenders, but the small community here [in Osoyoos] gives us lots of ice time and that support is always there.”

“We support each other a lot out there,” Liam adds. “Markus makes my job as a goal scorer a lot easier when he sets me up, so we definitely get a lot of good chances out there together. Our parents spend countless hours supporting us as well, and the all-around support from them and the community, it makes our lives easier to focus on hockey.”

It’s not only on the ice where the family connection is strong. Away from the rink, hockey has become an activity that has brought the Ruck family together on numerous occasions.

From the competitive mini-stick battles with their younger brother Landon, to family vacations scheduled around hockey, the sport has brought the whole family together. It’s something that the brothers’ parents, Nina and Derek, are thankful for.

“We’ve got to go all over Canada and the United States as a family,” Nina says. “We’ve had so many great memories with hockey and people sometimes ask if we even do family vacations, and I tell them ‘Of course,’ whether it’s to The Brick tournament or to Montreal for Meltdown, its some of the best memories of our lives so far together.”

The Youth Olympics will be a proud moment for family and friends, who will be cheering them on from Osoyoos.

“Kids in Osoyoos look up to them as leaders,” Liebel says, thinking about how emotional it will be to see the twins take the ice in Gangwon. “It’s a small town here and the kids see what Markus and Liam are doing on the ice and their level of commitment to hockey; they are the perfect types of people for kids in the community to look up to.”

International success runs in the family

When Markus and Liam hit the ice for Canada’s preliminary-round opener against the host Koreans on Jan. 27, it won’t be the first time a member of the Ruck family competes with the Maple Leaf on their chest. Their father played three years in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes (1998-2001) before winning the Allan Cup in 2007 as a member of the Powell River Regals, a year before the twins were born. The Regals were invited to represent Canada’s National Men’s Team at the Belarus Cup and Derek skated in three games for Canada.

And then there’s their second cousin, Taylor Ruck. She is a four-time Olympic medallist (a silver and three bronze) in the swimming pool, representing Canada at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games, and tied a Commonwealth Games record with eight medals (one gold, five silver, two bronze) at the 2018 Games in Australia.

With all that success in the family, the twins hope to continue to represent the Ruck name with pride on the international stage.

“We’ve both dreamed of putting on that jersey,” Liam says. “A lot of Canadian kids have that dream, and to have the opportunity to do that is really exciting for us and the family."

“Ever since watching the World Juniors and the Olympics, we always dreamed to be in their positions and in their shoes,” Markus adds. “We have the opportunity now, it’s going to be unbelievable.”

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Men's hockey team named for 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games

Ryan Smith named head coach; Travis Crickard, Bruce Richardson to serve as assistants

NR.098.23
|
December 21, 2023

CALGARY, Alberta - Hockey Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s men's hockey team selected to compete at the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

The Team Canada men's hockey team for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games is:

  • Goaltenders Mateo Beites (Sudbury, ON/Barrie, OMHA-U16), Colin Ellsworth (Aurora, ON/York Simcoe, OMHA-U16) and Carter Esler (Okotoks, AB/Okotoks, AEHL-U18)
  • Defencemen Cameron Chartrand (Saint-Lazare, QC/Bishop Kearney Selects, USHS), Callum Croskery (Oakville, ON/Oakville, OMHA-U16), Ryan Lin (Richmond, BC/Delta Hockey Academy, CSSHL-U18), Zach Nyman (Toronto, ON/Vaughan, GTHL-U16), Daxon Rudolph (Lacombe, AB/Northern Alberta, CSSHL-U18) and Keaton Verhoeff (Fort Saskatchewan, AB/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL-U18)
  • Forwards Alessandro Di Iorio (Vaughan, ON/Vaughan, GTHL-U16), Beckham Edwards (London, ON/Detroit Little Caesars, US15U), Tynan Lawrence (Fredericton, NB/Shattuck-St. Mary’s, USHS), Aiden O’Donnell (Cole Harbour, NS/Dartmouth, NSU18MHL), Mathis Preston (Penticton, BC/Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL-U18), Liam Ruck (Osoyoos, BC/Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL-U18), Markus Ruck (Osoyoos, BC/Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL-U18), Adam Valentini (Toronto, ON/Toronto Marlboros, GTHL-U16) and Braidy Wassilyn (Puslinch, ON/Markham, GTHL-U16)

“Congratulations to the tremendous athletes, coaches and staff who have been selected to represent Canada in men’s hockey at the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games,” said Katherine Henderson (Thunder Bay, ON), president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada and co-chair of Canada’s Winter Caucus of Sport. “Wearing the Maple Leaf at the Games is an incredible honour and we know fans across our country will be cheering on this group and the rest of Team Canada on as it goes for gold.”

The roster was selected by Byron Bonora (Brooks, AB), Hockey Canada’s U17 head scout, and Kurt Keats (Winnipeg, MB), manager of hockey operations. A long list of players was shared by Hockey Canada’s 13 Members in the summer, with regional scouts Pierre Cholette (Quebec), Rob Simpson (Ontario), Darren Sutherland (Atlantic) and Darrell Woodley (Ontario) also providing input.

Of the 18 players, eight are from the Ontario Hockey Federation, four are from BC Hockey, three are from Hockey Alberta, and Hockey New Brunswick, Hockey Nova Scotia and Hockey Québec are represented by one player each.

“We are thrilled to announce the 18 players from six Members who will have the unique opportunity of representing Canada for the first time at the Winter Youth Olympic Games," said Benoit Roy (Sudbury, ON), senior manager of hockey operations. "This event gives us an opportunity to introduce players to Hockey Canada while providing athletes with the chance to develop the skills and experience needed in international competition, all while competing for a gold medal and taking in an experience of a lifetime in Gangwon.”

Team Canada has participated in the men's hockey tournament at each Winter Youth Olympic Games to date, winning the bronze medal at Innsbruck 2012 and Lausanne 2020, and the silver medal at Lillehammer 2016.

Men’s hockey will take place Jan. 27-31 (Days 8-12) at the Gangneung Hockey Centre. Team Canada opens the Youth Olympic tournament against host South Korea on Jan. 27 at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT and will play Finland on Jan. 29 at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT. Semifinals will be played on Jan. 30, with the medal games set for Jan. 31.

“Congratulations to the athletes named to Canada's men's hockey team,” said Lisa Weagle, Team Canada’s Gangwon 2024 chef de mission. “These young athletes are the future of Canadian hockey and represent the skill, sportsmanship and excellence that define our nation’s passion for the sport. As chef de mission for Team Canada, my message to each of the athletes is to play with heart, seize the moment and represent Canada with pride.”

The Team Canada coaches and support staff for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games are:

  • Head coach Ryan Smith (Headingley, MB/Spokane, WHL)
  • Assistant coach Travis Crickard (St. John’s, NL/Saint John, QMJHL)
  • Assistant coach Bruce Richardson (Montréal, QC)
  • Equipment manager AJ Murley (St. John’s, NL)
  • Athletic therapist Kevin Elliott (Charlottetown, PE)

Smith is currently in his second season (2022-23) as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL) after two seasons (2020-22) as an associate coach. He previously won a silver medal as an assistant coach with Canada Red at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and won silver and bronze as an assistant with Canada West at the 2012 and 2013 World Junior A Hockey Challenge.

Crickard is in his first season as head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) following one season as an assistant. He won a gold medal as video coach with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship and was a video coach and assistant coach with Canada Black at the 2016 and 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, respectively, winning a silver medal in 2016.

Richardson most recently served as head coach of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada for five seasons (2018-23). He won a bronze medal with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2023 IIHF U18 World Championship, was the head coach of Canada White at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and served as an assistant with Canada Black at the November 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

The Youth Olympic Games are the world’s largest multi-sport event for high-performance young athletes aged 15–18. Gangwon 2024 will run from Jan. 19-Feb. 1, and will feature 1,900 athletes. It will be the fourth edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games and the first in Asia, and will have a fully gender-balanced sporting program with seven sports, 15 disciplines and a total of 81 events.

Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all national sport organizations.

The latest Team Canada Gangwon 2024 roster can be found here, and additional press resources can be found here.

For more information on Hockey Canada and the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games, please visit HockeyCanada.ca or follow through social media on Facebook, X and Instagram.

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Jade Iginla raising the trophy at the 2022 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.

Spotlighting the game’s rising stars

Celebrating the next generation of Black Canadians who are succeeding in the hockey world thanks to their talent, dedication and love of the game

Shannon Coulter and Jonathan Yu
|
February 25, 2023

From coast to coast to coast, there are plenty of talented athletes who are part of the next generation in the hockey world.

As part of Black History Month, let’s look at some of the young Black athletes who are making strides at the national and international levels.

Megan Duplantie (Laval, Quebec)

Duplantie began playing hockey when she was four years old. After playing up to U9 girls’ hockey, she switched to playing with boys with the Laval Patriotes at U11.With her talent shining in men’s hockey, she received an offer to go south and play for the Kent School in Connecticut.

Now 17, Duplantie was excited to make the Team Quebec roster for the Canada Winter Games, but unfortunately an injury will prevent her from taking the ice in Prince Edward Island.

Evan Elliott (Whitby, Ontario)

A member of the Whitby U16 AAA Wildcats, Elliott will represent Ontario at the 2023 Canada Winter Games. Through 32 games this season, Elliott has shown his offensive talents, registering 18 goals and 21 assists.

In Prince Edward Island, Elliott recorded two goals during preliminary-round play and added an assist in a quarterfinal win over New Brunswick.

Maasilan Etchart (Ottawa, Ontario)

Etchart has worked his way through the Rockland Nationals program, making his debut this season in the Central Canada Hockey League. As a 15-year-old defenceman, he has recorded six goals and 12 points in 32 games with the U18 AAA Nationals this season.

Etchart has played a big role on the Ontario blue line at the 2023 Canada Winter Games, scoring his first goal of the tournament in the quarterfinals.

Jade Iginla (Lake Country, B.C.)

Iginla continues to make her way up the ranks of Canada’s National Women’s Team. The daughter of Hockey Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla, Jade is showing she is creating a path of her own, helping Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team win gold at the 2022 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.

After missing the preliminary round due to injury at the U18 women’s worlds, Jade made her Team Canada debut in the quarterfinals. She recorded a goal and two assists in three games.

The RHA Kelowna alumna is in her first season with Brown University, leading the team as a freshman with 15 goals and 21 points.

Tij Iginla (Lake Country, B.C.)

Similar to his older sister, Iginla officially made his Team Canada debut in 2022, suiting up for Canada Red at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Tallying two goals and five assists in seven games, Iginla helped Canada Red earn a silver medal.

Currently in his rookie season with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, the 16-year-old centre has scored three goals, adding 11 assists through 39 games. He will be eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft.

Cayden Lindstrom (Chetwynd, B.C.)

After getting a six-game stint in the WHL during the 2021-22 season, Lindstrom has settled into his role in his rookie season with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Sitting seventh in Tigers scoring with 14 goals and 30 points in 45 games, Lindstrom was a late addition to the Canada White roster at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. But he didn’t miss a step when the tournament began, scoring four goals and adding two assists in six games.

Jordan Martin (Abbotsford, B.C.)

Martin wanted to be just like his brother Jayden growing up, so he followed in his footsteps and began playing hockey when he was three years old. Jayden played for Yale Hockey Academy before joining the Mission City Outlaws. Now 16-year-old Jordan is making his mark with Yale in his hometown.

This season, the defenceman has registered two goals and 13 points in 25 games with the U18 prep team. The 41st overall pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft, Martin has recorded one assist so far with Team B.C. at the Canada Winter Games.

Harry Nansi (Nepean, Ontario)

Nansi was at a public skate when he was six years old when he saw a hockey team practice on another rink, and he was inspired to try the game. Now, the 15-year-old is putting up some noteworthy numbers.

In the 2021-22 season, Nansi tallied 15 goals and 45 points in 25 regular-season games with the Ottawa Myers Automotive U15 AAA team. He is making waves with the Nepean U18 AAA Raiders this season, registering 21 goals and 47 points over 34 games, and has skated in two games for Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games. Nansi says his role model is Anthony Duclair because “not only is he a person of colour, he is very humble, hardworking and when he is on the ice, he is relentless.”

Jaeden Nelson (Vaughan, Ontario)

Nelson had a fantastic season last year with the Ottawa Myers Automotive U15 AAA team. In 14 regular-season appearances, he boasted a 1.19 goals-against average, seven shutouts and a 10-2-2 record. In the playoffs, he continued to be lights-out with a 5-0 record, one shutout and a 1.20 GAA over five games.

The Toronto Marlboros goaltender is one of two netminders backstopping Team Ontario at the 2023 Canada Winter Games. The 15-year-old made 29 saves on 32 shots in an overtime loss to Alberta during the preliminary round, and allowed two goals on 25 shots in a quarterfinal win over New Brunswick.

Aaron Obobaifo (Calgary, Alberta)

The future is bright for Obobaifo, who suited up for Team Alberta this month at the Canada Winter Games. Last season, the Calgary native had a fantastic year with the Shattuck-St. Mary’s U14 AAA team in Minnesota, recording 44 goals and 91 points in 52 games.

That performance caught the eyes of the Vancouver Giants, who drafted Obobaifo 19th overall in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft. Giants head scout Terry Bonner says the 16-year-old is “a strong skater, competitive, has good hands and great finish around the net.” This season, the forward has 34 goals and 21 assists in 43 games with the U15 AAA team at Shattuck. Obobaifo has registered one goal and two assists so far at the Canada Winter Games, helping Team Alberta to the quarterfinals.

Cameron Schmidt (Prince George, B.C.)

Schmidt comes to Team B.C. with two WHL games under his belt. The forward made his WHL debut with Vancouver – who selected him seventh in the 2022 WHL Prospects Draft – on Jan. 6, scoring his first WHL goal to help the Giants defeat the Tri-City Americans 3-2.

The 16-year-old has 11 goals and 19 points in 12 games with RHA Kelowna this season. He has two goals and six points so far at the Canada Winter Games.

Malcolm Spence (Mississauga, Ontario)

After posting 56 points in 28 games in his final season with the Mississauga Senators, Spence was drafted second overall in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection. In his first season with the Erie Otters, he’s tallied 12 goals and 16 assists, ranking him in the top-10 in points among rookies in the OHL.

His talents led to him being selected to represent Canada Black at the 2022 World U17 Hockey Challenge, where he registered an assist in two games on the international stage before an injury prematurely ended his tournament.

Nathan Watson (Mascouche, Quebec)

Watching the Montreal Canadiens on TV was what inspired Watson to begin playing hockey at four years old. Eleven years later, the Mascouche, Que., native has recorded three assists for his province so far at the Canada Winter Games.

Watson currently attends Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire, where he was named team MVP this season. Outside of hockey, the 15-year-old was voted as the all-school leader by the Cardigan community for the 2022-23 school year.

Bill Zonnon (Montreal, Quebec)

Zonnon is quickly drawing the attention of the hockey world in the QMJHL. Drafted sixth overall in the 2022 QMJHL Entry Draft, Zonnon got straight to work. He recorded points in seven consecutive games, five goals and seven assists, before being named rookie of the month for September and October. The 16-year-old has 15 goals and 17 assists this season, ranking him seventh in points on the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and ninth among QMJHL rookies.

Suiting up for Canada White at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, alongside Lindstrom, the left winger played in six games, scoring one goal and adding two assists.

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For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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