At first glance, it may look as if Megan Fox is playing hockey. In fact, it is Emily Berzins, a British Columbia raised player who once competed for the now-defunct Wayne State Warriors hockey program in the NCAA. A solid contributor for the Calgary Inferno, she is working tirelessly to help the club reach its first Clarkson Cup postseason appearance.
While her release from the Canadian Centralization Camp was heartbreaking, Bonhomme remains a fan favorite. Earlier in the season she was the face of Hockey Canada’s Livestrong jerseys campaign, in which the jerseys were styled in the black and yellow colors of the Livestrong foundation.
Having helped the Russian squad capture a bronze medal at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships, she gained national attention in Canadian media when she collided with Canada’s Meghan Agosta into the boards during the event. Ironically, both players wear number 2. Also a competitor with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in the NCAA, Goncharenko is hoping for a podium finish at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
As one of the scoring stars of the Finnish national team, Michelle Karvinen will be counted upon to help the Finns reach their second consecutive podium finish at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. In addition to her tenure with the Finnish team, she is also a member of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. On November 4, 2011, she had a five-point game against St. Cloud State. Her finest season with the Fighting Sioux was her first (2011-12), in which she accumulated an astounding 61 points. With over 100 career points in only two seasons, she is poised to become part of the NCAA 200-point club.
Should the United States claim their first gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games since 1998, Amanda Kessel will have a say in it. With two brothers in pro hockey (Phil and Blake), hockey is in her blood. Her 2013 in hockey was one of the finest years in the history of the game. With a 100-point season in NCAA play, she not only captured the Patty Kazmaier Award, she helped the Minnesota Golden Gophers to an undefeated season.
Quickly emerging as a household name in her native United States, Hilary Knight is one of the world’s greatest hockey players. Having finished her rookie season with the Boston Blades, it was a year to remember. In addition to being the first American-born player to capture the CWHL Most Valuable Player Award, she garnered a Clarkson Cup, the first in Blades history. A few weeks later, she followed it up with a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Ottawa.
Lamoureux Twins, Jocelyne and Monique
The greatest pair of hockey-playing sisters in the world, they are also the first set of twins to compete in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games. Having claimed a silver medal at Vancouver 2010, they are anticipating that Sochi 2014 will supply them with an elusive gold. Along with Knight, the sensational sisters are part of the Sochi Trading Card set issued by the Topps Company.
One of the most popular players on the Canadian national women’s team, Mikkelson was thrust into the national spotlight. She was part of a series of TV advertisements with Sport Chek, honoring athletes and their mothers. In addition, she was also featured in Sportsnet Magazine’s Beauty of Sport edition, becoming the second women’s hockey player (after Bonhomme) to be featured in the issue.
A former member of the Russian national women’s team, Zoya Polunina competed at the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont. One of the most popular players in her native Russia, she has been featured in numerous magazines. Having helped the Russian team to a silver medal at the 2013 Winter Universiade, she is one of the elite players of her homeland.
Not able to compete for Sweden at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, her leadership and experience were sorely missed by a Swedish team that competed in the relegation round. Having competed professionally in Canada, Russia and Sweden, the worldly Rundqvist is a fundamentally sound hockey player who always provides her teams with a chance to win.
Quite possibly the greatest female goaltender in the world, Florence Schelling led the Swiss contingent to a bronze medal at the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont. Having competed in men’s hockey in her native Switzerland, she is hoping to lead the Swiss to their first-ever podium finish at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
A former member of the USA Hockey Bob Allen Award (recognizing the finest women’s hockey player in the United States), Kelli Stack is one of the most accomplished players in US hockey history. Despite injuries sidelining her from the 2013 Clarkson Cup and 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, she has made a full recovery. A gold medal at Sochi 2014 will be the highlight of what she hopes shall be a heroic comeback.
Part of a strong legacy of European players who have competed with the famed Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs program in the NCAA, Alexsandra Vafina is a star on the rise. With her Bulldogs coach Shannon Miller serving as a coaching consultant for the Russian national women’s team, it paid remarkable dividends. Vafina was one of the key players as Russia captured the bronze at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships. Playing on home ice for the Sochi Winter Games, the rest of the world will now catch up to the budding superstar.
Tessa Bonhomme, Ottawa Citizen Style
Meaghan Mikkelson, Sportsnet Beauty of Sport
Kessel, Knight and Lamoureux Twins, Harry How, Getty Images