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Slash alumnae lace up for Team Canada

The World University Games — commonly referred to outside of North America as the “Universiade” — is the largest multi-sport winter event in the world aside from the Olympics. The 2023 edition of the biennial competition will bring together over 1,000 student-athletes between the ages of 17 and 25.
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St. Albert Slash alumna Madison Willan plays in a game with the University of Alberta Pandas hockey team. Supplied by University of Alberta Pandas

USports athletes Camryn Drever and Madison Willan set to travel stateside for World University Games.

In the middle of competitive seasons with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and the University of Alberta Pandas respectively, fourth-year netminder Camryn Drever and third-year forward Madison Willan will don the red and white at the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, New York from January 12 to 22.

The World University Games — commonly referred to outside of North America as the “Universiade” — is the largest multi-sport winter event in the world aside from the Olympics. The 2023 edition of the biennial competition will bring together over 1,000 student-athletes between the ages of 17 and 25.

Drever, a member of the Midget AAA Slash from 2015 to 2018, has since taken her talents to Saskatoon to study education. In her time with the Huskies, Drever has won U of S First Team All-Academic and USports Academic All-Canadian honours in all four seasons since joining the squad, maintaining an impressive 1.56 goals against average in 48 career games.

“I am super excited and honoured to represent Canada at the international level,” Drever told the Gazette. “This is something that I have been working towards since I started my career with the Huskies, and I am thrilled to have this opportunity. Being chosen to represent my country and play against elite players from other countries is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Willan, a member of the Slash from 2016 to 2019, captained the group in her final year of minor hockey before winning a spot on the roster of her hometown Pandas. With 18 points in only 19 games played so far this season, Willan is the scoring leader of a U of A team that trails behind only UBC and Mount Royal in the Canada West standings.

“Anytime you get to wear the maple leaf, it’s a privilege,” said Willan. “There are many talented hockey players across USports, and to be included as one of 22 players chosen to compete is a huge honour.”

But that honour comes with sky-high expectations. As is true of Canadian skaters in all domains of international play, the pressure to bring home the gold is palpable, both on and off the ice.

“No matter the sport, when an individual suits up for Team Canada, we expect to win,” Willan remarked. “We are going to have to bond well, execute the game plan, and find chemistry in a short period of time. As long as we are getting better each and every day, we will put ourselves in the best position to be successful.”

“We have a couple of days before the tournament starts where we will be able to get things rolling and get to know who works well together,” added Drever. “It will be nice to get the first few games under our belt before we match up against the United States.”

Team Canada will play round-robin games against Slovakia (Jan. 11), Czechia (Jan. 14), Japan (Jan. 15), and Great Britain (Jan. 17) before facing off against their continental rivals on January 18. Playoffs begin with semifinals on January 20.