U18 Worlds USA/CAN Pre-Tournament Report

The IIHF U18 Women’s World  Hockey Championship is set to take place in Madison, WI from June 6th-13th, 2022. After the cancellation of last year’s event, we are thrilled to see the event back to showcase the best U18 female hockey players in the world. 

At Neutral Zone, we are fortunate to scout these players on a daily basis throughout the season. As a result, we have created the following report as a pre-tournament guide to the USA and Canadian rosters. Below you will find notes on each player’s strengths and how they impact the game. This report will serve to celebrate these young athletes and act as a starting point for anyone watching these players for the first time.

If you weren’t excited about the U18 Women’s Worlds before, read this report, invest in these young women by turning on your TV to watch this fast-paced, passionate, and exciting event. 

For more information on each player, click their name to view their profile. For more information in the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds follow this link: https://www.iihf.com/en/events/2022/ww18

Team USA

Goaltenders (3)

Annelies Bergmann #29 (Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, G, 2023, Cornell):

Hometown: Detroit, Mich.

Bergmann plays boys hockey, so we enlisted our men’s scouts to provide information on her style of play. She is tall and highly athletic, balanced, and technically sound. Her stance is commanding and allows her to deny chances and make that 1st save. Rebounds are no problem for Bergman either as she has quick reflexes and very smooth skating skills. A high level talent that stands out in the U16 boys league. She is sure to make a big impact on this USA roster.

Sedona Blair #1 (MN Grey, G, 2023, UNH):

Hometown: Eden Prairie, Minn.

Blair is a tall and solid goalie. She covers holes with ease to make the technical save, but has proven she can also make the saves that she “shouldn’t”. Despite being viewed in mostly low-shot games, we have seen enough of Blair to know she can handle fierce competition and be ready when the shooting gallery opens up

Ava McNaughton #30 (Selects Academy U19, G, 2023, Wisconsin):

Hometown: Seven Fields, PA.

McNaughton is a goalie that emerged as a star at the U14 level, and never looked back. She has continued to improve each year we have scouted her. She has great size and athleticism. She is confident and engaged, maintaining a consistently high save percentage. Rebound control is excellent, and will prove to be a tough goalie to beat in this event.

Defense (7)

Gracie Dwyer #16 (Philadelphia Jr. Flyers U19, D, 2022, Cornell):

Hometown: Wynnewood, PA.

Dwyer is an offensive defensemen who we are sure to see skating the puck whenever she can. She has a dangerous shot that’s off quickly and hard. Her game sense is elite and she contributes heavily to success at both ends of the rink.

Jenessa Gazdik #3 (Gentry Academy, D, 2023, Minnesota State):

Hometown: Somerset, WI.

Gazdik is a solid defensive defender who utilizes a strong gap and puck protection skills to ensure the puck stays safe. She is very tough to beat in the d-zone, using an active stick and strong instincts to ensure opponents stay to the outside. Gazdik shines in her own zone, but her shot from the point shouldn’t be ignored, as it has a habit of finding the back of the net.

Molly Jordan #2 (Loomis Chaffee School, D, 2023, Boston College):

Hometown: Berlin, CT.

As predicted at the Patsy K. Odden event, Jordan will wear the USA jersey with pride. She is a very poised and skilled defender who can adjust to the needs of the game with ease. She has fast acceleration that she uses to separate from hard forecheckers in her own end. Contributes at both ends of the ice with her dynamic skill set.

Sydney Morrow #12 (Shattuck-St. Mary’s U19, D, 2022, Ohio State):

Hometown: Darien, CT.

Morrow has decent size at 5’7” and a nice long reach. She is smooth and uses any space in front of her to skate it up. Can gain the o-zone all alone. She transitions quickly with her fast feet, and also uses them to walk the blue and find that shooting lane. She has incredible passing accuracy, able to make the short one-touch passes, and stretch passes to dazzle the crowd.

Emma Peschel #6 (Benilde-St. Margaret’s, D, 2022, Ohio State):

Hometown: Edina, MN.

Peschel has a nice 5’10” frame and uses it to her advantage. She has the physical edge in most situations, and controls her body well to separate opponents from the puck. Has a powerful slap shot from the point, and the ability to skate it up deep into the offensive zone. A good balance of offensive and defensive minded plays to keep opponents guessing, and provide her team optimal possession.

Laney Potter #5 (Philadelphia Jr. Flyers U19, D, 2023, Wisconsin):

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA.

Potter is a commanding presence anytime she’s on the ice. Her 5’11” stature allows her to protect the puck and create lanes for herself and teammates. Potter understands the game at a high level and has excellent puck control. She is smart and difficult to beat in even and odd man situations. She is aggressive and strong with great anticipation skills.

Ava Svejkovsky #4 (Delta, D, 2022, Colgate):

Hometown: Point Roberts, WA

Svejkovsky is an impactful defender. She was ranked 2nd in Western Canada this season, 1st was Brooke Disher who we will see on the Canadian Roster. She can create offensive plays quickly and easily. On the defensive side, she is controlled and engaged. She moves the puck with purpose on breakouts and shows vision when she joins the offense. A versatile defender who works 2-ways.

Forwards (13)

Elyssa Biederman #14 (Little Caesars U19, F, 2022, Colgate):

Hometown: Franklin, MI.

Don’t be fooled by Biederman’s small stature at 5’1”, this forward is highly skilled, intelligent, and fast. She is incredibly aware and will jump all over her opponents’ mistakes. She is offensively gifted with the ability to execute high level plays and will be involved in the creation of cerebral offense at this event.

Danielle Burgen #13 (Minnesota Tradition White, F, 2022, Minnesota State):

Hometown: Lindstrom, MN.

Burgen has been a highly ranked player in the Minnesota High School league for years now. Her vision and ability to attack the puck shows great determination and compete level. She has good game sense, allowing her to control the puck out of high traffic areas and make plays at top speed. Works very well in small areas. She has goal-scoring abilities to further elevate her intelligent, skilled game.

Laila Edwards #10 (Selects Academy U19, F, 2022, Wisconsin):

Hometown: Cleveland Heights, OH.

Edwards is a special player with some of the most gifted abilities we will see this week. Edwards is a methodical skater, but digs in with every stride to cover the ice well. She can handle around an entire opposing team and put it in the net. Throughout youth play, we saw Edwards’ puck patience shine on the powerplay. Her shot is an absolute cannon that she can rip past the most technical of goaltenders. Will be an offensive producer for this team.

Claire Enright #18 (Minnesota Tradition White, F, 2022, Wisconsin):

Hometown: Lakeville, MN.

Enright has shown a fearless attitude in her ability to play physical and force pucks from her opponents. She controls the puck with ease and has fast top speed. Most impactful at the offensive end of the ice where she is a fierce goal scorer and playmaker.

Kelly Gorbatenko #9 (Chicago Mission U19, F, 2023, Wisconsin):

Hometown: Barrington, IL.

Gorbatenko is a powerful forward who uses her 5’11” frame to her advantage. Her height allows her to protect and dominate the ice. Her shot is hard, and she plays in all situations. Even with a long reach, Gorbatenko has no problem handling in tight and executing big dangles on goalies and defenders.

Cassie Hall #21 (Little Caesars U19, F, 2023, Wisconsin):

Hometown: South Lyon, MI.

Hall has great speed and quickness. She is explosive out of her zone and tough to defend with her shiftiness and ability to dangle. She makes tight turns on a dime and accelerates to her top speed quickly. An excellent skater with a big offensive presence, who is also a tenacious backchecker. Hall will impact both ends of the ice.

Tessa Janecke #22 (NAHA White 19U, F, 2022, Penn State):

Hometown: Orangeville, IL.

Janecke is a skilled player with a great attitude. She will do whatever it takes to uplift and raise the compete of her team. She has soft hands and long strides. Can beat defenders with smooth dangles, or by simply powering past to the outside. She is a constant offensive threat with her tireless net drive. Janecke is a sure bet to be on the score sheet frequently for USA.

Madison Kaiser #23 (Holy Family, F, 2022, Minnesota):

Hometown: Andover, MN.

Kaiser has been at the top of her Grad Class since we first saw her as a U14. She has speed and hockey IQ. She is crafty with the puck and frequently wins foot races. Her puck control is elite, making her dangerous in the slot. She is consistent with her effort and strong skill set. With Kaiser, you’ll see her will to win in every game.

Ava Lindsay #7 (MN Grey, F, 2023, Minnesota):

Hometown: Minnetonka, MN.

Lindsay is at the very top of the 2023 Grad Class ranking, and she will show up as one of the most intelligent players at this event. She is very poised and controlled with sharp skills and body control to spin off pressure. She has exceptional mobility at top speed, and it is nearly impossible to take the puck from her. Lindsay hunts pucks when her team doesn’t have possession, and won’t quit until it’s on her stick. She is a cerebral playmaker with excellent timing and instincts.

Finley McCarthy #25 (Selects Academy U16, F, 2024):

Hometown: Whitefish, MT.

McCarthy is a fast skater with sharp edges, allowing her to push the speed of the game and escape pressure. She keeps momentum, creates space, and makes strong reads in all 3 zones. Her hands are still choppy, however it does not hinder her puck control. Puts in the second effort in every situation. Has a winning attitude that elevates her elite skill set.

Maggie Scannell #24 (Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep, F, 2024):

Hometown: Wynantskill, NY.

Scannell is a younger player, as an ‘06. She is fast and fairly shifty for a 5’10” player. Creates a lot of shooting opportunities. Applies good pressure at both ends of the ice and has goal scoring abilities.

Kirsten Simms #17 (Little Caesars U19, F, 2022, Wisconsin):

Hometown: Plymouth, MI.

Simms has been a sensational player to watch throughout her youth career. Her skills are very refined. She is a speedy, flashy, and offensively gifted player. Simms controls the play with ease, keeping her head up and feet moving at a blazing pace. As a result of her emotional play and fierce compete, we may see her in the box occasionally. She plays a role in every situation and has a winning attitude. She will show us advanced offense at this event, but we also expect strong defensive support and hard backchecks from Simms.

Josie St. Martin #11 (MN Grey, F, 2024):

Hometown: Stillwater, MN.

St. Martin is a strong skating forward with soft mitts. She drags it to shooting lanes to find new angles, then snaps it on net quickly. She is creative but has good risk assessment. Despite being on the smaller side of this roster, at 5’3” tall, she is strong and will rub players out along the boards.

Team Canada

Goaltenders (3)

Hailey Lynn MacLeod #1 (Delta Hockey Academy, G, 2022, Minnesota Duluth):

Hometown: Abbotsford, B.C.

MacLeod is a 6’0” goalie who was the first ranked goaltender in Western Canada this season, as well as ranking 5th in overall impact among all positions. She challenges well and shows confidence in net. She moves quickly, and in a controlled manner, to always stay square to the puck. Does not make excessive movements, she is dialed in and focused on the shooter and anticipates their plays well. Her calm, controlled, demeanor makes skilled saves look easy.

Mari Pietersen #29 (Etobicoke Jr. Dolphins, G, 2022, Boston University):

Hometown: Goodwood, Ont.

Pietersen has size in net and moves well laterally. Sound positioning gives Pietersen the advantage on the 1st shot, and her rebound control is excellent. She is a gamer that elevates her play in high pressure situations such as breakaways, penalty kills, and over time. Also plays the puck with confidence to keep the speed of the game high and act as a 3rd defender on the breakout.

Lucy Phillips #30 (Station Six Fire, G, 2022, Quinnipiac):

Hometown: Upper Tantallon, N.S.

Phillips displays quick reaction time. She will make the 2nd and 3rd saves when she has to, but is typically very strong at smothering the first attempt. Her gloves are quick and accurate, making it tough to score up high. She is strong on her skates and remains tall and dialed in when things are chaotic in front of her net.


Sara Swiderski #4 (Rink Academy – Kelowna, D, 2022, Clarkson):

Hometown: Langley, B.C.

A top 3 rated player in the 2022 Grad Class from Western Canada. She is an elite level skater which allows her to cover the ice quickly, maintain strong body position while defending, and easily navigate the offensive blue without risk of a possession change. She has great puck skills to gain and keep control in all zones. Makes smart and accurate plays with pace. Could have fit into a University program early with her talent level, so we are sure to see her stand out on this stage.

Tova Henderson #6 (Delta Hockey Academy, D, 2022, Minnesota Duluth):

Hometown: Richmond, B.C.

Henderson is a defensive defender who has her focus on keeping things safe and accurate. She has a strong skill set that can go understated as she focuses on the little things and ensuring the puck is safe. These skills are incredibly important to any d-core, and she brings that reliable and accurate presence every game.

Sarah MacEachern #7 (Etobicoke Jr. Dolphins, D, 2022, Cornell):

Hometown: Cornwall, P.E.I.

MacEachern is a controlled, and smooth skating defender. She uses her teammates well, making plays quickly and would never put her team in a bad situation. She is dependable in any scenario with her poise and ability to handle the puck with speed. She has a great hockey mind, allowing her to advance the puck forward with both easy and difficult passes. 

Brooke Disher #8 (Rink Academy – Kelowna, D, 2022, Boston University):

Hometown: Lake Country, B.C.

Disher holds the #1 ranking spot for the 2022 Grad Class in Western Canada. We see her living up to this distinction here. She is an offensive minded defender who generates offense while sacrificing very little on the d-side of the puck. Her risk assessment is good and her skillset is strong allowing her to skate it all the way up untouched. She is mobile through the neutral zone and across the offensive blue. Excellent as the QB on the powerplay where her vision and accuracy shine.

Ava Murphy #15 (Oakville Jr. Hornets, D, 2023, Wisconsin):

Hometown: Kitchener, Ont.

Murphy is a strong skater who has speed on the rush and mobility in her zone as well as at the offensive blue. She creates opportunities and makes crisp accurate puck choices. Has a good physical component to her game, she won’t be out battled in front of her net. She has the willingness and ability to join the rush successfully, while being the first back in her end. Contributes every step of the way.

Alyssa Regalado #25 (Etobicoke Jr. Dolphins, D, 2022, Cornell):

Hometown: Mississauga, Ont.

Regalado is aware and always has her head on a swivel to pick up open players in the d-zone. She anticipates the play and can both disrupt the opponent’s attack, as well as contribute to her own team’s rushes. She makes herself a good option and is able to score when she joins the rush. She has fast speed that can make opponents look silly as she blows past. Contributes to the Canadian roster’s ability to battle and engage in the physical aspects of the game.

Piper Grober #28 (Durham West Jr. Lightning, D, 2023, Cornell):

Hometown: Toronto, Ont.

Grober is a cerebral player with good instincts. She jumps up into the play as an option and can bury it quickly. Fast to transition and ensure her team is covered defensively. Makes accurate passes to break the puck out smoothly and quickly. She is poised, mobile, and has quick hands at the offensive blue. Protects the puck, toe drags, or curls off pressure to deny opponent’s attempts to strip her of the puck. 


Rhea Hicks #5 (Mississauga Jr. Hurricanes, F, 2022, Syracuse):

Hometown: Brampton, Ont.

Hicks is an excellent combination of speed, control, and accuracy. She blows past defenders at top speed, maintains strong possession, and creates time and space in the offensive zone. Puts lots of pucks on net and has good results in the faceoff circle, winning pucks clean. Effective on the ½ wall with the ability to carry it to the net if she is given a lane.

Mckenna Van Gelder #9 (Etobicoke Jr. Dolphins, F, 2022, Cornell):

Hometown: Etobicoke, Ont.

Van Gelder can set plays and create chances for her team. She is an excellent playmaker who surveys developing plays and finds a way to execute them quickly. She is hungry and pounces on her opponent with high success rates. Hicks will create high level opportunities at this event. She will also be one of the fiercest forecheckers for Canada, and is sure to cause chaos low in the offensive zone.

Jade Iginla #10 (Rink Academy – Kelowna, F, 2022, Brown):

Hometown: Lake Country, B.C.

Iginla is a top talent out of Western Canada. When she is not on the ice, you feel the void from her absence. She maintains strong possession, drives deep into the zone, and makes accurate passes to create net front opportunities. Iginla has the ability to control the game with her determination, skill, and smarts.

Emmalee Pais #14 (London Jr. Devilettes, F, 2023, Colgate):

Hometown: London, Ont.

Pais is a top player in the highly competitive Ontario U22 league. She is an excellent skater with good separation speed. She is patient with the puck and has great control to keep things safe until she can make the right play. Battles all over the ice and has a high motor. She is creative and offensive minded, allowing her to generate consistent offense. Works just as well off the puck as she does on it.

Alexandra Law #16 (Durham West Jr. Lightning, F, 2023, Boston University):

Hometown: Whitby, Ont.

Law is a powerful, speedy forward. She creates turnovers without possession, and controls and sets things up with possession. She has quick hands that she uses to create space, navigate through traffic, and finish. Her release is quick and she can execute head fakes to catch goalies by surprise. She stays on the puck and battles hard. Likely to contribute in all situations.

Avi Adam #17 (Etobicoke Jr. Dolphins, F, 2022, Cornell):

Hometown: Wolfville, N.S.

Adam is a smooth skating forward that effectively gains the zone and sets up exceptional offense. She has a quick release and solid snapshot to generate her own offense, but makes the real magic happen when she sets up her teammates for goals. She plays with intensity and wins draws at a high percentage. Her speed is dangerous, as she won’t be stopped when rushing it up ice, but will also close in quickly on the forecheck and force turnovers. 

Reichen Kirchmair #19 (Etobicoke Jr. Dolphins, F, 2022, Providence):

Hometown: Oakville, Ont.

Kirchmair has speed to drive the zone, but also has the awareness and control to curl up, escape pressure, and hit her driving teammates. She battles hard and earns her space net front. She has a tenacious work ethic that allows her to gain the offensive zone often where she grinds to keep possession and finds tape. 

Jordan Baxter #21 (Delta Hockey Academy, F, 2023, Ohio State):

Hometown: Coquitlam, B.C.

Baxter is an elite hockey mind. She has excellent hands in tight space and the ability to release her shot quickly and lift it in front. She has vision up ice and executes high level plays. She is an explosive skater with agility. The kind of player who makes things happen in crucial situations.

Jocelyn Amos #22 (London Jr. Devilettes, F, 2023, Ohio State):

Hometown: Ailsa Craig, Ont.

At the very top of our 2023 Ontario rankings. She is a relentless forechecker who forces errors and mucks it up in the o-zone. She has quick hands and excellent puck control. Seems effortless for Amos to navigate end-to-end. She is intelligent and poised with the puck. Creates chemistry regardless of the line she is on, and makes dynamic one-touch passes. Will also backcheck hard and provide good defensive support.

Alexia Aubin #23 (Stanstead College, F, 2024):

Hometown: Lévis, Que.

Aubin contributes to this 2-way working roster with her willingness to play on both sides of the puck. She has good edgework and a clean stride with great adaptability to any scenario. Can execute sharp saucer passes cross-ice to her driving teammates. She has vision and the ability to execute. Particularly dangerous on the powerplay where she utilizes the extra time and space.

Madison Chantler #24 (London Jr. Devilettes, F, 2022, Quinnipiac):

Hometown: London, Ont.

In our last ranking set, Chantler came in as #3 in the 2022 Ontario Grad Class. A well earned distinction for this well-rounded forward. She is a dynamic skater with great hockey sense and stickhandling. She moves the puck well and goes to the net with purpose when she doesn’t have the puck. Creates space for herself in the slot, and is a danger net front.

Karel Prefontaine #26 (Standstead, F, 2023, Cornell):

Hometown: Gatineau, Que.

Prefontaine showcases good hands and a hard, accurate shot. She is able to navigate high pressure situations and come out the other side with the puck. She keeps her head up, shooting whenever she has a chance. Those hard shots have a tendency to find the back of the net in key situations.

Holly Abela #27 (Brampton Jr. Canadettes, F, 2022, Northeastern):

Hometown: Brampton, Ont.

Abela has been a stand out in Ontario since Bantam hockey when we first scouted her. She has excellent speed and puck control as she moves fast up ice. She wins pucks and creates opportunities. She is supportive and smart defensively. She is an aggressive forechecker that forces errors and will play physically in a battle. Effectively creates space for herself to make the high level plays that she can.