PWHPA All-Stars to play against Canada, Japan ahead of Beijing Olympics

Team Bauer's Erin Ambrose (23) and Alexandra Labelle (13) battle with Team Sonnet forward Natalie Spooner (24) during Professional Women's Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) Secret Dream Gap Tour action at the Seven Chiefs Arena on the Tsuut'ina Nation near Calgary, Alta. in this Thursday, May 27, 2021 handout photo. (Dave Holland/PWHPA)

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association All-Star team will go up against Canada and Japan as both teams prepare for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The PWHPA’s best will travel to Calgary for a pair of games against Canada’s centralized roster on Dec. 9 and 11. The team will then travel to Japan for a series of games from Jan. 9 to 16.

“We are thrilled to continue to provide opportunities for our players to compete this season,” said PWHPA operations consultant Jayna Hefford. “It’s really a win-win for us and these national teams because it provides the players on all sides with a competitive atmosphere, as well as a wonderful platform for our game. We’re excited for the next iteration of our All-star Team, and I know the competition for those spots will be tight.”

Canada opens its pre-Olympic series against the U.S. on Friday in Allentown, Pa., followed by another clash Monday in Hartford, Conn.

The Canadians meet the Americans for the first time since edging them 3-2 in overtime for the gold medal in the women’s world championship final Aug. 31 in Calgary.

Twenty-nine Canadian players are centralized in Calgary training full time for Beijing’s Winter Olympics in February.

Goaltenders Ann-Renee Desbiens of La Malbaie, Que., Emerance Maschmeyer of Bruderheim, Alta., and Kristen Campbell of Brandon, Man., are Beijing-bound, but competing for coveted Olympic starts.

Six skaters will be released in December to get to the 23-player Olympic roster.

Canada travels to Finland for a three-game series against its women’s national side Nov. 11-14. The Canadians then host the Americans on Nov. 21 in Kingston, Ont., and Nov. 23 in Ottawa.

The series resumes in the U.S. with games Dec. 16 and 18 in St. Louis, and Dec. 20 in St. Paul, Minn. then wraps up in Canada on Jan. 3 in Edmonton and Jan. 6 in Red Deer, Alta.

Canada opens the Olympic women’s hockey tournament Feb. 3 against Switzerland.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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