Three Delta Hockey Academy players were among the 23 women that would have represented Canada at the cancelled 2022 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship this month.
On Thursday (Jan. 20), Hockey Canada announced the roster of three goaltenders, seven defence and 13 forwards who would have travelled to Linköping and Mjölby, Sweden to compete in the tournament Jan. 8-15, had the event not been cancelled — for the second consecutive year — on Dec. 24, just two weeks before it was set to begin.
“Our disappointment of not competing in the championship this month does not overshadow the dedication and hard work our athletes and staff put in to be ready to compete,” Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of hockey operations, said in a press release.
“I am extremely proud of this group. It is crucial for the development of these athletes, as well as the growth of the women’s game, to be able to hold this tournament, and we remain hopeful there is an opportunity for them to showcase their talents and represent Canada on the world stage in the near future.”
Among those chosen to represent Canada at the tournament were Delta Hockey Academy U18 Prep team captain Tova Henderson, forward Jordan Baxter and goalie Hailey MacLeod. Also making the trip would have been their DHA teammate Ava Svejkovsky, who was set to compete with Team USA.
“These four players are obviously very skilled and selected to the two top U18 teams in the world, so they are the best of the elite,” DHA U18 Female Prep head coach Mark Taylor said. “They are all amazing young ladies that are fun to coach.”
Henderson, who hails from Richmond and turned 18 on Jan. 13, has tallied five goals through 14 games — the most of any blueliner on the team — and two assists for seven points this season.
“Tova is a great leader and organizes the team on the road, everything from when they want their meals, how early the bus will leave for games, to lights out in their rooms,” Taylor said. “Tova is very mature for her age and comes with a witty personality, and she can keep things light when needed or more serious if the time requires it.”
Meanwhile, assistant captain Svejkovsky, 17, from Point Roberts, Wash., has one power play goal this season and five assists through 13 games.
Taylor described Svejkovsky as “fairly vocal” with her teammates and “a very positive voice.”
“Ava makes many of the decisions with Tova. Both girls do a great job of looking out for their teammates on and off the ice.”
MacLeod is one three goalies chosen for Team Canada. The 17-year-old from Abbotsford has played 488 minutes through eight games this season, backing the team to six wins — one a shutout — and two losses. So far she has stopped 204 of 224 shots, allowing only 20 goals, for a goals-against average of 2.46 and a save percentage of 0.911.
“Hailey is very focused and a serious competitor, battles whenever she is on the ice,” Taylor said.
Baxter, 16, is the youngest of the four. The right-handed forward from Coquitlam has tallied 16 goals and 10 assists for 26 points through 14 games this season.
“Jordan is the first one on the ice and last one off, she knows exactly what she wants to accomplish with her hockey,” Taylor said.
Since the tournament’s inception in 2008, Team Canada has medalled at all 12 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championships, winning gold five times (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019), silver seven (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020) and bronze once (2018).