International Ice Hockey Federation

Sweden appeals to Wakefield

Sweden appeals to Wakefield

Canadian forward thriving in Scandinavia

Published 18.11.2017 03:24 GMT+10 | Author John Sanful
Sweden appeals to Wakefield
Jennifer Wakefield listens to the national anthem after a win at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
As Canada readies for the 2018 Winter Olympics, they will have choices to make about their final roster.

Among the decisions to be made include the composition of their forward lines. Jennifer Wakefield is vying for one of those spots.

Wakefield has certainly made a case for herself with an impressive showing at the Four Nations Cup. Wakefield was tied for goal scoring with four goals and third in shots on goal. She was a constant presence in the offensive end of the ice and a key contributor in Team Canada scoring.

“This tournament is a huge one for us,” Wakefield said of her experience in Tampa. “On these teams, these are the players we will likely be facing at the Olympics so it is nice to see where we are and where we need to be.”

Canada, she admits, is not yet firing on all cylinders right now and still has a long way to go, but see this tournament as a way to measure their progress as a team. There are still areas for improvement.

“We have to play more consistent hockey,” Wakefield said of what Canada must work on. “I think sometimes we need to get off to a quick start that’s been lacking. I think we can surprise some teams in the first ten minutes of a period.”

For three years now, Wakefield has been working at her chosen profession as a hockey player in Sweden. What started as a brief excursion to get away and see something different, has grown into a long-term opportunity.

“I went after the Sochi Olympics in 2014 because I kind of wanted a different scenery and wanted to see a new country,” Wakefield said of why she went to Sweden. “I thought that was the best way to keep playing and to discover something new. I enjoyed it so much that I went back the next year and then said to myself okay I’m finished but then went back again.”

Now it has been three years later and she is still working and living in Sweden. Wakefield plays for Linkoping where there are seven different nationalities on the team.

Moving from North America to Europe required some adjustment. These included playing hockey on the larger ice surfaces with talent developed from so many nations.

“I think he biggest thing over there was learning more about how people play and doing that on the Olympic-sized ice for every game. That was the biggest thing I noticed along with adapting to the different styles of play,” she said.

Wakefield has not only played in Sweden but has thrived in her European environment. She’s been a proficient goal scorer and has had an impact on the ice. She was Linkoping’s scoring leader, second in the Swedish women’s hockey league and the league’s top goal scorer with 34 goals in 30 games. In addition, Wakefield has played some games every season in men’s minor hockey leagues and believes it, along with the level of talent at Linkoping, has helped her game.

“I became more patient with the puck,” Wakefield said. “I played for a few men’s teams over there as well so I think it was good to learn from them. There are some really good players in Europe and we play against solid competition every night.”

Wakefield is also heartened that while she is not playing professionally in North America, there are opportunities abound for women in the CWHL and NWHL.

“I have a few friends who went from the CWHL to NWHL and it is great they are paying players and putting a good product on the ice. It would be awesome if opportunities for women continue to expand.”

Although Canada’s roster has not yet been set for the Olympics, Wakefield is a contender to make the team. But she does not count on anything until the final roster is named. She recognizes that there are so many talented players also competing for a spot that nothing should be taken for granted. With that in mind, she stays within herself and improving her game. And maybe employing some of the tips learned from experience in playing overseas.

“I try and play my game and be consistent in what I bring to the national team,” Wakefield said. “I think if you are going to work every day and learn from different people you are going to add elements to your game. I’ve learned in Europe over the three years.”

 

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