After a five-day reselection camp in Calgary in May, Canada will open the rescheduled tournament on Monday against Finland in Madison.
Aware that her 2003-born Canadian counterparts couldn’t compete at an U18 World Cup at all – the pandemic also wiped out the 2021 tournament – Iginla appreciates wearing the Maple Leaf for the first time in her career.
“I think the first two words that come to mind are gratitude and pride,” Iginla told The Canadian Press.
University of Alberta Pandas head coach Howie Draper returns to the bench after leading the U18 women to gold in 2019 and silver in 2020.
Iginla, the eldest child of Jarome and Kara, had 18 goals and 10 assists in 22 games for the Hockey Academy Kelowna Under-18 team last season. She has signed on to play for Brown University next season.
Younger brothers Tij and Joe also play hockey. Tij was drafted ninth overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League in 2021.
Jarome played the majority of his 1,554 NHL games for the Calgary Flames. He holds the franchise record for goals and points.
He famously assisted Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal to win men’s 2010 Olympic ice hockey gold for Canada when Crosby shouted “Iggy” to indicate he was open. Jarome was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year.
“He’s my father first and that always comes to mind before any of his other accomplishments,” said Jade Iginla.
“My dad, who played hockey at such a high level for so long … whenever I have a bad experience, for example, or something that didn’t go my way, he immediately relates to something that happened to him, and it is always similar. It always helps to find common ground.”
She possesses elements of her father’s power-forward game.
“What we like about Jade is that she connects really well with all of her teammates,” Draper said. “She seems to be reading them really well. She obviously has high hockey intelligence.
“What really strikes us is her courage factor, and that’s something that can be compared to her father. This makes it really difficult for the opponent to play against you. She’s got a bit of it, which is really cool to see.
“She doesn’t shy away from the difficult parts. She protects the puck really well, creating great opportunities for her teammates and linemates.
“She’s fun to watch, as are all the other girls. They all have some special elements. In that respect, I think we have a really strong group.”
Hockey Canada hosted a panel discussion during the selection camp with some women national team players who won Olympic gold in Beijing in February.
“They only spat wisdom,” said Iginla.
Among them was 25-year-old defender Micah Zandee-Hart, who won World U18 gold in 2014 and led the team to silver the following year.
“I asked about leadership and how everyone can be their own leader, have different personalities, be quieter or louder,” Iginla recalled.
“Micah had a great response to really just committing to what you can do. If that means talking to the person next to you and it pushes you out of your comfort zone today, then that’s a good day.”
Canada lost their only game before the tournament, 3-1 against the United States. Iginlas Kelowna teammate Brooke Disher of Lake Country, BC was named U18 captain.
Defenseman Sarah MacEachern of Cornwall, Ontario and forward Karel Préfontaine of Gatineau, Que. were elected alternate captains.
Two-thirds of Canada’s Olympic team have competed in an U18 World Cup at some point in their careers. Captain Marie-Philip Poulin and veteran striker Natalie Spooner appeared in the first in 2008.
Canada are in Group A in Wisconsin alongside Finland, Sweden and hosts USA. The Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland form Group B.
After the duel with the Finns on Monday, Canada will face Sweden on Tuesday and the USA on Thursday in the preliminary round
The quarter-finals take place on Friday, followed by the semi-finals on Sunday and the medal games on Monday.
Players’ fears in January that there would be no U18 World Cup for the second year in a row were replaced by the battle for the gold medal.
“They’re like animals that have been caged for a significant amount of time and you just let them out of that cage,” Draper said. “The energy, excitement and enthusiasm are at a high level right now.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 5, 2022.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press