MacLeod set for Four Nations Cup

Wisconsin women's hockey captain Carla MacLeod gets her first taste of top-level international hockey today

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While her teammates on Wisconsin's women's hockey team were preparing for the final game of a two-game set with Ohio State Sunday, junior defenseman Carla MacLeod was on her way to Sweden.


The trip, though, is by no means a break from hockey. Beginning at noon (CST) today, MacLeod will take the ice for Team Canada in the Four Nations Cup, an international round-robin tournament that matches a quartet of the world's best national teams. An Olympic-light competition, if you will, that also includes the United States, Finland and host Sweden.


Canada takes on Sweden today, followed by matches with the U.S. (noon Thursday) and Finland (10 a.m. Saturday). The top two finishers from round-robin play will compete for the Gold Medal at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, while the Bronze Medal game takes place at 6 a.m.


MacLeod has enjoyed international competition before, but not on this scale. MacLeod captained the Canadian Under-22 National Team that played a three-game series against the U.S. U-22 squad in August and played for Canada's U-22 team that faced off in Germany in the European Air Canada Cup last February.


This, however, is a substantial change. MacLeod is one of three members of Team Canada who will be playing on a senior national team for the first time.


"It is a different level. It is that next level up, but U-22 is a great stepping stone and it helps you," MacLeod said. "I've been overseas with U-22 so I understand what that travel is like and playing in foreign countries and I just think it is just going to be a tremendous experience."


The tournament serves as a secondary tryout for MacLeod, who earned a place on the Four Nations Cup roster with a strong showing at Team Canada's Thanksgiving Festival in early October. Team Canada coaches and scouts will continue to monitor the players who were invited to that festival in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and will name different rosters for additional camps, events and tournaments over the next two seasons leading up to the Olympics.


More proximately, the Four Nations Cup is the only competition Team Canada will take part in prior to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Hockey Championships, which take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia March 30-April 6. The final roster for that tournament will be assigned in February 2004.


"It is pretty exciting," MacLeod said of making the Four Nations Cup roster. "I go in there with the attitude that I have nothing to lose. I don't have a spot on that team to lose. I only have a spot to gain. I just go to the competitions it is just great hockey and to have that chance to play it and then to be fortunate enough to be selected it is just awesome."


The nature of international hockey, however, means that MacLeod will miss three of Wisconsin's games before returning to the Badgers. In addition to missing Wisconsin's 3-1 victory over Ohio State Sunday, MacLeod will be in Sweden as the Badgers play a road series with Bemidji State, Nov. 7-8.


"It is tough just for our team a little bit here just because I'm kind of coming and going—I think obviously they are fine with it, but I would like to be here more," said MacLeod, who was voted Wisconsin's team captain prior to the season. "But at the same time I'm getting a great opportunity and they all understand that and respect that."


In five games with Wisconsin this season, MacLeod has four assists. In 55 career games, she has four goals and 32 assists.

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