Hockey Canada will bring a veteran roster to the final three Rivalry Series games against the United States next month.
The games on Feb. 7 in Saskatoon, Feb. 9 in Regina and Feb. 11 in St. Paul, Minn., will serve as the last senior national team tune-up before the world championship in April.
The Canadian roster includes PWHL Toronto forward Natalie Spooner, who will make her first appearance in red and white this season.
Spooner last played for Canada at last year's world championship as she worked her way back after giving birth to her son, Rory, in December 2022. She was invited to Hockey Canada's fall camp in September, but was listed as unable to participate.
Spooner has five goals in eight games for Toronto this season, just one goal behind Montreal's Marie-Philip Poulin and Minnesota's Grace Zumwinkle for the PWHL lead. Spooner scored twice in a 2-0 win over New York last Friday, giving Toronto its first win at home this season.
Canada will also get New York captain Micah Zandee-Hart back on its blue line. She's set to play her first games with Team Canada this season after recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
New York captain Micah Zandee-Hart smiles during a game against Toronto at Mattamy Athletic Centre on Jan. 26, 2024. (PWHL)
"Our roster features a more veteran lineup, however with each series, we have looked at the depth of our women's program and incorporated athletes which allowed us to test new line combinations," Canadian GM Gina Kingsbury said.
"Ultimately, the process and these games are the building blocks we need for us to have success at the upcoming Women's World Championship in April."
Toronto reserve forward Victoria Bach is also set to make her first national team appearance this season. Bach hasn't played with Toronto yet in the regular season as she's been finishing teacher's college, but she's expected to be in the lineup as soon as February. She had five points in seven games with Canada at the world championship in 2022.
Another Toronto forward, Maggie Connors, is poised to make her senior national team debut after a solid start to her first professional season. The 23-year-old Princeton University graduate has a goal and two assists in eight games, and has earned time on Toronto's power play.
Schroeder to join Desbiens, Maschmeyer in net
New York goaltender Corinne Schroeder will join Montreal's Ann-Renée Desbiens and Ottawa's Emerance Maschmeyer in net. Long-time Team Canada third goaltender Kristen Campbell (Toronto) was not named to the roster.
Schroeder was named to her first senior national team roster for November's Rivalry Series games, but hasn't gotten a start yet.
She's put up one of the best goaltending performances in the PWHL so far, highlighted by a shutout in the PWHL's first game on New Year's Day.
So far, Schroeder has a 1.79 goals against average and .946 save percentage, all while facing more shots (167) than any other goaltender in the league except Desbiens.
Homecoming for Clark
The game in Saskatoon will be Ottawa forward Emily Clark's first opportunity to play a game in her hometown in more than a decade. Team Canada played in Saskatoon for the Four Nations Cup in 2018, but Clark was injured a couple of weeks before.
February's Rivalry Series game in Saskatoon will be Ottawa forward Emily Clark's first opportunity to play in front of a hometown crowd in more than a decade. (Kim Valliere/Radio-Canada)
"Being able to play in my hometown, I don't think there's anything better I could write on paper," Clark said in November during Ottawa's training camp.
The United States leads Canada 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Beginning Feb. 5, the PWHL will take a break while North American players compete in the Rivalry Series and European players head overseas for the Euro Hockey Tour, with games resuming on Feb. 14.