12 February, 2013

Ambrose and Brandt Represent the Next Great Hockey Rivalry

In the eternal rivalry between Canada and the United States in women’s ice hockey, the next chapter will be written by a pair of future stars whose paths are destined to collide at greater levels. An aspect of the unbroken narrative that constitutes this visceral rivalry is the great clash of hockey heroines. 


The first chapter featured Cammi Granato and Angela James, who would ironically be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame together. In 1998, the Nagano Winter Games set the stage for the next great rivalry: Cassie Campbell vs. Angela Ruggiero. With the level of talent in the current rivalry being so equal, the goaltenders have taken the stage in the rivalry as Jessie Vetter and Shannon Szabados occupy the crease on opposite ends of the frozen perimeter.


As the level of competition in women’s ice hockey now includes the IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds, the Meco Cup, and the summertime clash between the Canadian and American Under-22 squads, the opportunity to see rivalries grow and develop can happen as early as the high school years. The next great border battle between Canada and the US has taken root in the Under-18 competitions.


Quickly becoming every bit as intense as the rivalry between the senior teams, the Under-18 rivalry laid the foundation for the next stage in the rivalry: Erin Ambrose of Canada and Hannah Brandt of the United States. Having played with the Under-18 squad up until 2012, Ambrose was a key figure in the growing relevance of the IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds. 


Having already been immortalized on cardboard (she was featured on a trading card in the 2011 Upper Deck World of Sport Collection), Ambrose was the first true superstar at the Under-18 level. A two-time captain of the Under-18 squad, she helped the squad to its first ever gold in 2010, and its second gold in 2012. Sandwiched in between is gold at the 2011 Canadian Under-18 women’s championships with Team Ontario Red, respectively. She has had the opportunity to play against the best that young America has had to offer: Alex Rigsby, Dana Cameranesi, Haley Skarupa, Paige Savage, Alex Carpenter and Brandt. 


The winner of the 2012 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award, Brandt was invited to the selection camp of the United States for the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds. Brandt’s highly anticipated debut with the Minnesota Golden Gophers was well worth the wait. She would log a hat trick in her NCAA debut, as a star was born. 


Her impact with the Minnesota Golden Gophers was nothing short of legendary. In the first half of the 2012-13 Golden Gophers season, she accumulated close to 50 points as the squad went 20-0. 


With Ambrose joining the green and gold of the Clarkson Golden Knights, she quickly established herself as one of the new breed of elite defenders in NCAA women’s ice hockey. With 2 goals and 19 assists in the first half of Clarkson’s season, the green and gold were ranked #2 in the national polls behind Minnesota, respectively. 


All signs indicate that the two will meet again in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, perhaps setting the stage for a legendary collegiate postseason. Once their NCAA careers reach their respective twilights in 2016, one can only expect that they shall collide again at the Pyeonchang Winter Games in 2018 for the ultimate prize in women’s hockey. 

 

 

Photo credits: Ambrose (Photo by Shelley M. Szwast, courtesy of USCHO Photoshelter), Brandt (Photo by Emily Dunker, Courtesy of Minnesota Daily)

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