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Desbiens’ return headlines Canadian roster for upcoming Rivalry Series games in Ontario

Hockey Canada has revealed the 23-player roster for the next two Rivalry Series games between Canada and the United States in December.

The team that will play in Kitchener, Ont. on Dec. 14 and Sarnia, Ont. on Dec. 16 is headlined by starting goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens (of PWHL Montreal), who returns to the lineup after missing the first two Rivalry Series games earlier this month with an injury.

While Desbiens returns, a few other regulars are missing from the roster.

Forward Jamie Lee Rattray (PWHL Boston) and defenders Micah Zandee-Hart (PWHL New York) and Erin Ambrose (PWHL Montreal) did not make the roster.

Zandee-Hart missed the first two matches of the Rivalry Series, while Ambrose left the last Rivalry Series game in Los Angeles with an injury that’s kept her off the ice for most of PWHL Montreal’s training camp.

The break for the two games will come as the PWHL prepares to begin its inaugural season on Jan. 1. The deadline for all six PWHL teams to submit their final rosters, which include 23 players under contract and two reserve players, is just a few days earlier, on Dec. 11.

PWHL Toronto leads the way with six players named to the roster, followed by Ottawa and Montreal, which have four each.

Three NCAA players are poised to make their senior national team debuts in defender Nicole Gosling (Clarkson University), forward Jennifer Gardiner (Ohio State University) and forward Anne Cherkowski (Clarkson University). Gosling’s cousin, Julia Gosling, is also on the roster.

PWHL Boston forward Loren Gabel, who was the MVP of the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation, will return to the team after appearing in the Rivalry Series last season, but missed the cut for the world championship squad.

The United States collected the first two Rivalry Series games this past month, after Canada came back to win last season’s competition.

The seven-game series continues in February with stops in Saskatoon on Feb. 7 and Regina on Feb. 9. It will move across the border for the 7th and final stop in St. Paul, Minn., on Feb. 11.

The PWHL plans to break for international competition, which will also include the Women’s World Championship in April.

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