Larson, Team Canada aims for gold at the Winter Universiade

Weyburn product Alexis Larson is one of 22 players chosen for Canada’s women’s hockey roster for the 2017 Winter Universiade. Canada will be looking to reclaim a gold medal, after falling to Russia 3-0 in the 2015 championship game in Granada, Spain.
The 2017 Winter Universiade will be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan from Jan. 29 to Feb. 8.
“I am completely honoured to be representing Canada,” said Larson. “I am very humbled and proud to have been chosen. I still forget that it is real sometimes. To represent Canada is something I have dreamed of since I was a young girl, and to have this dream become a reality is something I am very grateful for.”
Larson currently plays defense for the University of Regina Cougars. She is in her fifth year with the Cougars and serves as captain. She has competed a nursing degree at the University of Regina, and is a registered nurse.
The 22-player Team Canada roster features 20 members who skated for Team CIS at Hockey Canada’s Women’s Development Camp in August. Eight players come from the Canada West conference, along with seven from Ontario University Athletics, five from the RSEQ in Quebec and two from Atlantic University Sport.
During the 2017 Winter Universiade, Canada will compete in Group A alongside China, Great Britain and host Kazakhstan. Group B consists of the defending champion Russia, Japan and the United States.
“My goal is to win gold for Canada,” said Larson. “I don’t know if there would be any greater feeling than coming home with a gold medal for Canada, for my home town of Weyburn, my teammates in Regina and of course my family. The expectations are always at the highest level when you put on the Team Canada jersey as a hockey player and so our goal is to continue the tradition of excellence and bring home a gold medal.”
Returning from the 2015 Universiade squad, former Western defenceman Katelyn Gosling headlines the roster. Gosling, a CIS champion with the Mustangs two seasons ago, took part in Hockey Canada’s Fall Festival with the women’s national team after being drafted over the summer by the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s (CWHL) Calgary Inferno.
Adding to the leadership core is Guelph goaltender Valerie Lamenta, the reigning CIS player of the year. Lamenta will share the crease with Waterloo’s Stephanie Sluys. On the blue line, Larson is joined by Mustangs player Brianna Iazzolino, Guelph’s Katherine Bailey, Montreal’s Maude Laramée, UBC’s Kelly Murray, and Manitoba’s Erica Rieder.
Up front, Canada will be led by Montreal’s Alexandra Labelle, who scored a hat-trick in the CIS championship game last spring. The offence also includes fellow Carabins Catherine Dubois and Jessica Cormier, St. Thomas’ Kelty Apperson, Ottawa’s Melodie Bouchard, Regina’s Kylie Gavelin and Jaycee Magwood, Guelph’s Kelly Gribbons, Waterloo’s Rachel Marriott, St. FX’s Daley Oddy, Manitoba’s Alanna Sharman, Alberta’s Alex Poznikoff, and Saskatchewan’s Kaitlin Willoughby.
Behind the bench, University of Guelph head coach Rachel Flanagan, who made the selections following development camp, will be accompanied by team leader and video coach Rick Traugott, assistant coaches Kelly Paton and Shaun Reagan, equipment manager Jean Huynh, and therapist Natalie Paladino.
Larson had attended a Hockey Canada development camp over the summer, where she had the opportunity to meet many of the coaches and players who will be attending the 2017 Winter Universiade. “One of the highlights was definitely having the opportunity to be around such great players with unbelievable ambition and work ethic. It was extremely contagious and inspiring.”
“I felt like a better player and person just by being around them. It was very exciting to have the experience to take the ice together and have them push me to be a better player. They are all great people.”
Larson is very proud to call Weyburn her hometown. “I am very proud to come from such a supportive and innovative community. The amount of great athletes and people that come from our community is a testament to the support that exists.”

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