“It’s great to be back on the team”: Kitchener’s Loren Gabel set to return to Canadian hockey roster

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Loren Gabel’s long and frustrating wait is almost over.

The Kitchener native and Boston Pride forward, who last played for Canada’s National Women’s Team in 2019, will travel to British Columbia on Friday to compete in the first three games of the 2022-23 Rivalry Series against United States. The series begins Tuesday (TSN, 10 p.m.) in Kelowna, followed two days later by Game 2 in Kamloops. The teams will next play Nov. 20 in Seattle.

“I’m really looking forward to it; in fact, I can’t wait. It’s going to be a very, very good experience, obviously, and every time you get to represent Canada, it’s a huge honour,” said Gabel, 25, in a phone interview from Boston.

“It’s great to be back in the team, and it will be fun to play against USA. They will definitely be great games.”

Gabel was named to Canada’s 23-player roster in October and is back with the national program for the first time since the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Finland. Canada settled for bronze at this tournament, losing to Finland in the semi-finals, Gabel scoring six goals and one assist in seven games.

The former Clarkson University star has not made the national team since, missing the 2021 world championship in Calgary, the 2022 world championship in Denmark and the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

Despite all the disappointment, Gabel continued to pursue her dream.

She spent three years with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association following her world championship debut and signed to play with Boston’s Premier Hockey Federation franchise in October. She is one of two Boston players to dress for Canada next week, along with fellow Clarkson graduate Élizabeth Giguère of Quebec City. Gabel (2018) and Giguère (2020) are both former recipients of the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best player in NCAA women’s hockey.

The Pride got off to a 2-0 start in the PHF game, with Gabel registering an assist in a 2-0 win over the Metropolitan Riveters of East Rutherford, NJ, and two goals in a 4-0 victory over the Connecticut Whale of Simsbury.

“I love it here; it’s a big city,” Gabel said. “And we had two great team efforts, and it was a lot of fun.”

Gabel attended St. Mary’s High School in Kitchener and made his national team debut in 2018 at the 4 Nations Cup in Saskatoon.

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