Top Goaltender Talents Vie to be Canadian Starter
Sept 30, 2017

Shannon Szabados may have been the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team when they won an Olympic gold medal in Sochi, Russia in 2014, but she is not the automatic starter for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Geneviève Lacasse confirmed as much at a media even held in Calgary during the summer, adding that she felt “excited and pumped”.

Laura Schuler, the team’s coach, has commented that there are 3 strong goaltenders on the side, each with their own skills, and that none of them should be exclusively relied upon. This has ignited the excitement of fans everywhere, as they speculate on who the starter might be. In truth, it could be any of them at this point.

All Eyes on All 3 Candidates

Szabados remains the leading candidate, but Lacasse and Ann-Renée Desbiens are holding their own as serious contenders. The team has just started a 6-game slate of exhibition matches against their rival United States, and all 3 potential starters will need to put on good performances as they are closely watched. Unlike the games of online craps Canada and the rest of the world seem to love so much, this particular reward is not going to require luck but extreme skill.

As Schuler says, Lacasse and Szabados have both already played in games against North America, and been part of the winning team, but Desbiens has not. It will be interesting to watch the performances of players who are experienced in this specific situation versus one who is not, but who is an up-and-comer who has shown a lot of promise. Desbiens has even won the Patty Kazmaier Award for the best NCCA Women’s Hockey player.

Szabados is Taking Nothing for Granted

The current situation is very similar to what happened 4 years ago; Charline Labonté and Kim St-Pierre, as team veterans, were believed by many to be the obvious starter choices, but Szabados performed so spectacularly in the weeks leading up to the Sochi Games that the honour went to her. It was a tremendous achievement, but it does mean that Szabados is very aware of the fact that anything could happen.

Szabados, who played against and with male Hockey players against her youth as many Team Canada players have, has said herself that the fact that any of the 3 goaltenders might be chosen as starter has made her prepare harder than ever. Not only does this system of selection seem to be usual practice in the Canadian team, but she more than anybody is able to recognise that anyone might play well enough in the lead-up to be picked, and its all about having the right tools for the job at the right time.

Lacasse also understands what is at stake and that it is in her hands to prepare and perform as best she can right now. Although she was part of the Olympic team in 2014, she didn’t actually get to play any games in Sochi. Now, she is dying to play for the gold medal, and being named starter would make everything sweeter.


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