HALIFAX — National team goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer believes next year’s IIHF Women’s World Championship, to be hosted on home soil in Nova Scotia, represents a “long overdue” opportunity to reclaim a hockey title Canada once took for granted.
The team’s archrival the United States has won five consecutive gold medals — its last coming in a controversial 2-1 shootout win over host Finland last spring — and Maschmeyer believes Canada’s third-place finish at that tournament is indicative of the increased level of play in the women’s game.
“It’s a great thing for the sport,” she said Wednesday following a news conference to release details of the 2020 tournament in Halifax and Truro.
“It doesn’t feel like it when you are on the receiving end, but it shows that globally the game’s getting a lot better.”
Canada will open next year’s tournament against defending silver-medallist Finland in Halifax on March 31.
Maschmeyer said there will be no substitute for playing at home before passionate fans — something she said is true of Halifax, where the 24-year-old Bruderheim, Alta., native previously competed in the 2011 Canada Winter Games.
“It’s our time to bring home gold,” she said. “It’s been far too long. In my years in the senior team we’ve yet to do that, so we are ready.”
Canada will play in a top-heavy Group A in Halifax with Finland, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States, while Group B in Truro will feature the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary and Japan. The groups are based on the previous year’s rankings of the teams.
After a single round-robin series in each group, all five teams from Group A and the best three teams from Group B advance to the playoff round.
Halifax last played host to the event in 2004 when Canada shut out the U.S. 4-0 in the gold-medal game.
Grant MacDonald, the 2020 championship’s general manager, said organizers are looking to build on the success of the previous tournament. “That event did set records for attendance, profitability and television viewership,” said MacDonald.
He said next year’s tournament will be spread beyond the two host communities, with organizers planning training camps in various communities across the province for the 10 teams.
“We want to make sure this is Nova Scotia’s event, and that communities and especially young athletes from throughout the province can see the event, if not in their home communities, then close to it,” MacDonald said.
Hockey Canada also announced that two ticket packages are now available.
The 31-game tournament ends April 10 with the gold and bronze medal games at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
Canada has won 10 gold medals since the initial tournament in 1990, along with eight silvers and one bronze.