Although it is not officially recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation, more and more fans are recognizing Winter Games gold, an IIHF Women’s Worlds Championship Gold, and a Clarkson Cup as qualification for a Triple Gold Club for Women. The Triple Gold Club for Men is formally recognized as Winter Games gold, Men’s Championship Gold, and a Stanley Cup.
The first women that were deemed to have Triple Gold Club status were Caroline Ouellette and Kim St. Pierre in 2009 (the first year that a Clarkson Cup was held). In the following year, Jenny Potter would become the first American to gain entry into said club. Coming off a Winter Games gold medal in 2010, Sarah Vaillancourt would win the Clarkson Cup in 2011 to become the fourth fantastic member.
The 2011 CWHL Draft produced two more members of the Triple Gold Club for Women, Meghan Agosta (first pick overall), and Catherine Ward, respectively. Their accomplishments would be attained in the year 2012. The year marked three women overall gaining entry into the club. Meghan Agosta ended her superlative rookie year with the Montreal Stars by winning her first Clarkson Cup, and becoming the fifth woman to earn Triple Gold Club status.
Marie-Philip Poulin would win a long awaited gold medal at the IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont to gain entry. Catherine Ward would have the most memorable 2012 of all the newest members by winning the Clarkson Cup and the IIHF Worlds to qualify for the gold. Heading into Burlington, Vermont, Agosta and Poulin had already had two of the three requirements, while Ward only had one (the Vancouver gold).
As the 2012 CWHL Draft promises to be one of the finest drafts ever, several prospects have the potential to gain entry into this unique club. Charline Labonte, Rebecca Johnston, and Haley Irwin are one Clarkson Cup away from becoming new members.
Top prospects Bailey Bram, Natalie Spooner, and Jennifer Wakefield only have one of the three requirements (IIHF World Championship Gold), but all three are strong candidates for spots on the 2014 Sochi Winter Games roster.
Canadian draft prospect Jocelyne Larocque, along with American prospect Hilary Knight has the opportunity to take their accomplishments to another level. While both skaters need a Winter Games medal and a Clarkson Cup championship, what they already have will provide them with the chance to join very elite company. As a member of the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, Larocque won the NCAA Frozen Four championship in 2010. Knight claimed the Frozen Four crown with the Wisconsin Badgers in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
Only two women, Caroline Ouellette and Jenny Potter, have won Winter Games gold, World championship gold, a Clarkson Cup and an NCAA Frozen Four. This very rare grand slam in women’s hockey is within the grasp of both Larocque and Knight.
As a side note, Haley Irwin won the Frozen Four with Minnesota Duluth in 2008, so a Clarkson Cup victory in 2013 would make her the third woman to earn the grand slam. Of all the prospects in the 2012 CWHL Draft, Larocque, Knight and Irwin are among the very few that have won the Frozen Four. A Canadian variation of this grand slam was accomplished by Catherine Ward. Rather than an NCAA Frozen Four, she won a CIS championship. Considering Charline Labonte also has a CIS championship, a Clarkson Cup would also place her in unique territory also.
Although winning a championship is an integral part of the game (and a status symbol for some), the most important thing for these draft picks to remember is that every time their skates adorn the frozen surface of the rink, they are continuously making history. Although winning seems easy (even in a five team league), something that will always carry more value is the admiration of fans, and the opportunity to lay the foundation towards constructing the finest women’s league in the world.