OUA athletes look to impact Canada's FISU hockey teams
Toronto, Ont. (via 49 Sports) - When Team Canada takes to the ice in men's and women's hockey at the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games, OUA student-athletes will be front and centre.
The hockey teams consist of some of the best Canadian university hockey players, with Ontario players and coaches making up a significant portion of the roster.
Canada has won 17 medals in ice hockey throughout the history of the FISU Games, but could 2023 be the year for medals 18 and 19?
49 Sports looks at the OUA players heading to Northern New York and what may need to happen for Canada to capture gold.
Canada's men's hockey roster features nine OUA players
The last time the Canadian men's hockey team won gold at the FISU Games was in 2013 in Trentino, Italy.
At Lake Placid 2023, the latest combination of Canadian talent will look to end the drought, with nine OUA student-athletes making the cut. Meanwhile, four OUA coaches join the staff, with Ottawa's Patrick Grandmaitre, Western's Clarke Singer, Queen's Brett Gibson, and Toronto's Ryan Medel all joining as assistant coaches.
Canada drops the puck on their tournament on Thursday afternoon against Team Ukraine before facing Sweden, Japan, Latvia, and Czechia to close group play. January 21st features the semifinal before the Games wrap up with the men's gold and bronze medal clashes the following day.
The 2022 U CUP and Queen's Cup Champion UQTR Patriotes are sending three players to the Games, with forwards Simon Lafrance and Zachary Lavigne leading the charge, while defenceman Justin Bergeron looks to hold down one of Canada's top defensive pairings.
While Lafrance is second in OUA scoring with 13 goals and 28 points, he is joined by the leading scorer and 2022 OUA West rookie of the year, Kyle Bollers, who has 13 goals and 30 points in as many games.
Lafrance and Bollers have been a step faster than their peers this season and have garnered national recognition for their performances, making them must-watch players in New York State.
Outside of the high-scoring duo, McGill's Scott Walford will walk the blueline looking to bring the skills that have given him 16 conference assists to the international stage. Meanwhile, a Montreal counterpart - Concordia's Tyler Hylland - was a last-minute addition to the roster.
Rounding out the OUA contingent of skaters are a pair of Queen's Gaels, with forward Jonathan Yantsis and defenceman Jacob Paquette joining Team Canada in Lake Placid.
In net, TMU's Kai Edmonds is the presumed starter after posting a .928 save percentage with the Bold through 14 games this season.
It has been a decade since Canada stood atop the podium in men's hockey. Still, they're among the favourites to win the tournament this time around thanks in large part to the electric scoring touch and skill that the OUA players are bringing to the Games.
Jan. 12 (1:00 pm): Canada vs. Ukraine
Jan. 13 (1:00 pm): Canada vs. Sweden
Jan. 15 (9:30 am): Canada vs. Japan
Jan. 17 (1:00 pm): Canada vs. Latvia
Jan. 18 (4:30 pm): Canada vs. Czechia
Jan. 21: Semifinals
Jan. 22: Finals
Six OUA players represented on Team Canada women's hockey
Six OUA athletes are set to make their mark for Team Canada at the FISU Games, as, like the men's side, the country looks for its first gold medal since 2013.
Meanwhile, two Team Canada coaches hail from the OUA, with Guelph's Katie Mora and Wilfrid Laurier's Kelly Paton joining the group in Northern New York.
Waterloo Warriors forward Leah Herrfort leads the OUA in scoring and will no doubt be a critical member of Team Canada, bringing the skill and awareness that buoyed her to 10 goals and 13 assists in just 16 OUA games so far this season.
Warriors teammate Carley Olivier will play significant minutes on defence, looking to orchestrate a Canadian attack that features some of the best offensive players in the country, particularly from other conferences. Additionally, she enters the Games having just scored an incredible overtime winner for the Warriors over the Queen's Gaels in conference play.
Outside of the Warriors, don't lose sight of Nipissing Lakers forward Maria Dominico, who is a former OUA and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year and hasn't slowed down in 2022-23 after pushing the Lakers to a conference silver medal in 2022.
While Dominco will be without her sister Mallory, she brings a ferocious attacking element to Canada's team. She will likely see significant minutes through the middle of the lineup, where she'll hope to build on the point-per-game pace she's established in OUA action.
Guelph's Hannah Tait and Queen's Scout Watkins-Southward also join the Canadian team, but will have to compete for minutes and carve out their role in the Canadian group that features cross-country talent.
A late addition to the team is Toronto's Céline Frappier, who only found out that she would be a part of the team on Monday after injury forced Mount Royal's Tatum Amy to leave the Canadian camp. Frappier will be the only Varsity Blues hockey player at the Games, but brings international experience along with her, having won an IIHF U18 Women's World Championship medal in 2016.
Canada opens the women's hockey tournament before the Lake Placid 2023 Opening Ceremony, hitting the ice against Slovakia on Jan. 11 before preparing to face Czechia, Japan, Great Britain, and the USA in pool play. Similar to the men, the historic Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid will host the semifinals and finals, taking place on January 20th and 21st, respectively.
Jan. 11 (8:00 pm): Canada vs. Slovakia
Jan. 14 (4:30 pm): Canada vs. Czechia
Jan. 15 (4:30 pm): Canada vs. Japan
Jan. 17 (4:30 pm): Canada vs. Great Britain
Jan. 18 (8:00 pm): Canada vs. USA
Jan. 20: Semifinals
Jan. 21: Finals
OUA on Team Japan
Although OUA athletes will mainly represent Canada, Guelph Gryphons forward Chihiro Suzuki will play for Team Japan at the Games, facing fellow Gryphon Hannah Tait and Team Canada on January 15.
To watch the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games and keep up with some of the best from the OUA, fans can tune into the free FISU TV service.