HL:Team tasked with defending Olympic women’s hockey gold could be named Friday

CALGARY — The Canadian women’s hockey team has scheduled a news conference Friday when the 2018 Olympic team is expected to be unveiled.

Hockey Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee said Thursday it will be “significant announcement.”

Twenty-eight players were invited to try out for the squad that will attempt to defend gold in February’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

They’ve been training full time and playing a regular schedule of games since August.

Olympic women’s rosters will be 23 players — three goaltenders and 20 skaters — which is an increase on the three and 18 of 2014. Olympic men’s hockey rosters are 25.

Forward Amy Potomak of Aldergrove, B.C. and defender Erin Ambrose of Keswick, Ont., were released Nov. 20. Three more skaters will be cut.

Goaltenders Shannon Szabados of Edmonton, Genevieve Lacasse of Kingston, Ont., and Ann-Renee Desbiens of Malbaie, Que., will be Canada’s three goalies in Pyeongchang.

They will continue to compete for coveted starts at the Winter Olympics, which open Feb. 9.

The Canadian women concluded their six-game pre-Olympic series against archrival United States with a 2-1 overtime win Sunday in Edmonton.

The Canadians went 5-1 in that series, although the Americans beat them twice in November’s Four Nations Cup tournament.

The U.S. women’s team is scheduled to be announced Jan. 1.