One step closer to playing in Olympics

These are the seedlings that grow into maples. The Canadian women’s hockey roster announced for the 2023 IIHF world Under-18 championship Jan.

These are the seedlings that grow into maples. The Canadian women’s hockey roster announced for the 2023 IIHF world Under-18 championship Jan. 8-15 in Östersund, Sweden, will serve as the projected core of the Canadian roster for the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympics.

“Our coaching staff and scouts have done a tremendous job at identifying the next group of elite athletes who will contribute to our women’s program,” Hockey Canada director of hockey operations Gina Kingsbury said in a statement.

Among the 23 players selected — three goaltenders, seven blueliners and 13 forwards — is Morgan Jackson of Courtenay, a Grade 11 forward with the Shawnigan Lake School team. The graduate of the Vancouver Island Seals of the BC Elite Hockey League leads the Canadian Sport School Hockey League women’s U-18 Prep Division with 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points in 14 games and is committed to the NCAA Div. 1 Northeastern University in Boston.

“Morgan [Jackson] is dedicated and committed to both academics and hockey,” said Shawnigan Lake School head coach Carly Haggard, who herself came out of Port Alberni to play NCAA Div. 1 at Dartmouth.

“Morgan’s work ethic is truly outstanding,” Haggard told the Times Colonist. “And her speed and skating is already next level. So is her hockey IQ. She knows where the puck is going to be before it gets there.”

The five-foot-eight, 136-pounder played in the four-game Summer Series in August against the US and for Canada Red in the U-18 Summer Showcase, out of which the Canadian roster for the worlds was selected.

“Putting on the Canada jersey, when I wore it during the series, it was like: ‘Wow, this is a dream come true,'” Jackson said in a statement.

Forward Jordan Baxter from Coquitlam, out of the Delta Hockey Academy, and blueliner Gracie Graham from her hometown RHA Kelowna Academy, are the other players from BC selected for the U-18 worlds. They can take inspiration from Canadian national team blueliner Micah Zandee-Hart of Saanichton, who this year at Beijing 2022 became the first player from BC to win an Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey.

“The quality is coming up in BC and getting stronger,” said Haggard, who was a trailblazer in that regard. “And it’s only going to improve and get better.”

Jackson will be looking to not only ride that wave, but lead it, in pursuit of her dream of playing in the Olympics. But that’s the future. The immediate goal is the U-18 worlds in which Canada will be in Group A and plays Finland on Jan. 8, host Sweden on Jan. 9 and the US on Jan. 11. Group B will consist of Slovakia, Czechia, Japan and Switzerland. TSN will broadcast 13 games from Östersund Arena.

Canada has won the past two women’s U-18 world championships and six since 2010, with seven silver medals (including Zandee-Hart’s in 2015), in the annual tournament. “The team is motivated and excited for the opportunity to defend gold in Sweden.” said Kingsbury.

[email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button