For the first time since February’s Sochi Olympics, the top four nations in women’s hockey will meet in Kamloops, British Columbia, to compete in the nineteenth annual Four Nations Cup, pitting Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland against each other.
While it is certainly expected that Canada and the United States will meet in the Gold Medal Game (as they have sixteen of eighteen times), the Four Nations Cup has been something of a breeding ground for surprises in women’s hockey, as teams often test out younger players and new rosters in preparation for larger tournaments like the World Championships or Olympics. Just one year ago, Finland stunned the United States to qualify for the Gold Medal Game, and while the Americans will certainly be out for revenge, both to qualify for the Gold and to avenge their crushing Gold Medal overtime defeat to Canada in Sochi, perhaps their emotions may be taken advantage of to let a new dark horse into the race.
And while it seems that Team Canada, the incumbent Gold Medallists and International Hockey Lineal Championships, will continue to be unstoppable, only half of their Sochi roster will be in Kamloops, while a number of untested rookies will make their national team debut. Canada will open the tournament against Sweden on 4 November, with their preliminary tilt against Team USA the following day. Whether Canada can go undefeated (as they have at two of the last three Cups) remains to be seen, it will certainly be an interesting tournament in the shadow of Sochi, as well as in the lead-up to the 2015 World Championships in Sweden.
For the complete schedule of the Four Nations Cup, click here.