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Veteran forward Rebecca Johnston returns to Team Canada for Rivalry Series finale

Veteran forward Rebecca Johnston returns to the Canadian women’s hockey team for the final two matches of a Rivalry Series versus the United States.

The four-time Olympian was among 24 players Hockey Canada announced Thursday to finish out the seven-game series, with the U.S. currently leading 3-2.

Johnston, who has won three Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014, 2022) with Canada, took a break from hockey last fall to rest a back injury.

The 33-year-old forward from Sudbury, Ont., was hired by the NHL’s Calgary Flames in a player development and community relations role.

The last two games of the series are Feb. 20 in Trois-Rivieres, Que., which Hockey Canada has declared a sellout, and Feb. 22 in Laval, Que.

The roster involves 18 players who participated in the first five games of the series, including captain Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Nurse, Brianne Jenner, Emily Clark and goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens.

Johnston, Nurse and Clark will join U.S. forwards Alex Carpenter and Hilary Knight in the NHL all-star skills competition Friday in Sunrise, Fla.

Canada’s last Rivalry Series lineup was chosen by head coach Troy Ryan, director of hockey operations Gina Kingsbury and player development manager Cherie Piper.

The U.S. won three consecutive games in November to open the series before Canada countered with a pair of December victories.

After the Rivalry Series wraps up, the host country will attempt to win a third straight gold medal in the women’s world championship April 5-16 in Brampton, Ont.

“As we look ahead to the 2023 IIHF women’s world championship on home ice, these final two games against the U.S. will be crucial in our evaluation and preparations for April,” Kingsbury said Thursday in a statement. “Throughout the series we have been able to look at the depth of our program with different players and line combinations, and we are excited for two more competitive games against the Americans and showcasing ourselves to our incredible fans.”

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