ALBERTA

Poulin leads Canadian women into Four Nations Cup after Olympic heroics

10/16/2014 06:19 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST
CALGARY - Olympic hockey heroine Marie-Philip Poulin headlines the Canadian women's hockey team roster for the upcoming Four Nations Cup.

The annual international tournament featuring Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland will be held Nov. 4-8 in Kamloops, B.C.

Canada trailed the Americans 2-1 in the Olympic gold-medal game last February in Sochi when Poulin scored with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and again at 8:10 in overtime for the victory.

The 23-year-old from Beauceville, Que., was among 23 players named to the Four Nations roster Thursday by Hockey Canada. Poulin and nine other players selected were members of the 2014 Olympic squad.

Doug Derraugh of Arnprior, Ont., will serve as Canada's coach in Kamloops and at the 2015 world championship in Malmo, Sweden.

He's coached the Cornell Big Red women's team for nine seasons. Derraugh was Canada's assistant coach when they won the world championship in 2012.

Canada will be distinctly more youthful in Kamloops than in Sochi.

Forwards Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford, Caroline Ouellette and Gillian Apps, defender Meaghan Mikkelson and goaltenders Shannon Szabados and Charline Labonte were among the veterans left off the Four Nations roster.

Forwards Rebecca Johnston, Jennifer Wakefield, Hayley Irwin and Natalie Spooner, defenders Laura Fortino, Tara Watchorn, Lauriane Rougeau and Jocelyne Larocque as well as goaltender Genevieve Lacasse are the 2014 Olympians who will wear the Maple Leaf in Kamloops. All are under the age of 26.

Ten players will make their debut with the national team at the Four Nations Cup. Among them will be forward Jamie Lee Rattray of Ottawa, who won the Patty Kazmaier Award last season as the best player in NCAA Division I women's hockey.

The first international tournament in an Olympic quadrennial is an ideal time to rest the warhorses and give young players international experience with an eye to 2018, Derraugh said.

"We were looking to put together a team we felt could compete and win at Four Nations and then long-term, there are some players we want to see and see them play at this level and see how they do at this level," Derraugh said.

"Some of the older players are taking time off, some are having surgery, there's different things going on there.

"Not only is this an opportunity for the young players that haven't been at the senior level to show what they can do, it's also going to be different roles for the quote-unquote young veteran players who have been on the senior team before. They're going to have the opportunity to step up as leaders."

Women's team general manager Melody Davidson points out the U.S. followed a similar philosophy with its Four Nations team. Only a dozen American players chosen for Kamloops participated in the Sochi Games.

"It's not uncommon for us to go with different names at the Four Nations," Davidson told The Canadian Press in an e-mail from South Korea. "We still have lots of hockey left before the 2015 worlds and other major international tournaments."

Canada has won the Four Nations tournament 13 of 19 times, including last year in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The Canadians open play against Sweden on Nov. 4. The host country takes on the Americans the following day in what will be the first meeting between the two countries since that championship game in Sochi.

"I think it's always there between the U.S. and Canada no matter what happened in the last game. That rivalry is always going to be strong whether they're playing an exhibition game, the Olympics or the Four Nations," Derraugh said.

The Canadian women congregated in Calgary over a year ago for a gruelling regimen of daily training, practices and games in the months leading up to Sochi.

Forwards Bailey Bram and Jenelle Kohanchuk as well as defender Courtney Birchard were released from the Olympic team partway through the season, but they're back on the Four Nations roster.

Derraugh hopes those players on his Four Nations team who were battled-hardened during Olympic preparation retain that toughness and bring it to Kamloops.

"I think a lot of times with young players, they don't realize how far they can push themselves until they actually get pushed like they do in a centralization and Olympic year," Derraugh said.

"Now they understand just how much they can take and how much they can endure. You do really get pushed (and) are forced to find that other gear and that other level."

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