Puck set to drop on National Women's U18 Championship Staff

11/6/2012 3:49:01 PM

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. - The 2012 National Women's Under-18 Championship starts Wednesday at the EnCana Events Centre, with eight provincial and regional teams hitting the ice in a battle for the gold medal, which will be decided Sunday.

The gold medal game can be seen on TSN2, Tuesday, Nov 13 at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt.

Defending gold medallist Ontario Red is playing in Group A, along with Team Atlantic, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, while Group B consists of last year's silver medallist Quebec, bronze medallist Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario Blue.

Alberta and Manitoba face off in the tournament's opening game, while host team British Columbia will take on Saskatchewan in the opening day's feature game in the evening. The top two teams from each group in the preliminary round will play in semifinals, with the bronze medal game and the semifinal winners facing off for the gold medal.

"We can't wait for the first puck to drop here in Dawson Creek," said Chante Patterson-Elden, chair of the host committee for the 2012 National Women's Under-18 Championship. "The entire community is buzzing with excitement as the top female under-18 players from across the country prepare to go for gold at the EnCana Events Centre."

The eight rosters competing at this year's national championship include 21 of the 22 players who were members of Canada's National Women's Under-18 Team for a three-game series against the United States in Blaine, Minn., in August, and five players who won a gold medal with Canada's National Women's Under-18 Team at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship in Prerov and Zlin, Czech Republic, in January.

Additionally, of the 23 players named recently to Canada's National Women's Team for the 2012 Four Nations Cup in Kerava and Tikkurila, Finland, 15 are alumnae of the National Women's Under-18 Championship, including 2010 Olympic Winter Games gold medallists Meghan Agosta, Gillian Apps, Haley Irwin, Rebecca Johnston, Marie-Philip Poulin and Catherine Ward.

This will be the fourth time British Columbia has hosted the National Women's Under-18 Championship, with Surrey welcoming the event in 2009 and Salmon Arm holding the January 2005 and November 2005 editions of the tournament. Ontario Red has won the gold medal all seven times since the event's 2001 inception in Trois-Rivières, Que.

The National Women's Under-18 Championship brings together teams made up of the best female hockey players born in 1995 or later. The tournament serves as an important platform for Hockey Canada scouts, led by head scout of women's national team programs Melody Davidson, who are evaluating candidates for the Canadian contingent that will compete at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship next January in Vierumäki, Finland, as well as at other international events.