Eight BK Selects Girls to Compete in Under-18 Women’s World Championship

by Matt Gajtka

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For the second time in seven months, the International Ice Hockey Federation will conduct its Under-18 Women’s World Championship, set this time for early January in Sweden.

And for the second time in seven months, BK Selects will have a major presence on Team USA.

Eighth current BK Selects players were selected for their U18 Worlds teams this week, with seven of those picked by Team USA. That group includes 19U forward Finley McCarthy (Whitefish, Mont. / University of Wisconsin), who represented America just this past June in Wisconsin, scored two goals and four total points to help Team USA to a sliver-medal finish.

Joining McCarthy in the Stars and Stripes will be forward Peyton Compton (Sanford, Fla. / Northeastern University), forward Lucia DiGirolamo (Woburn, Mass. / Princeton University), defender Rose Dwyer (Wynnewood, Pa. / Cornell University), defender Megan Healy (South Burlington, Vt.), defender Molly Jordan (Berlin, Conn. / Boston College) and forward Bella Fanale (Webster, N.Y.). All of the above except Fanale — who skates for the 16Us — are on the BK Selects 19U team.

“We are very proud of the players selected to the team,” BK Selects VP of Hockey/19U Head Coach Paul Colontino said. “It is a great honor for the player and the program. We have 40 players here that are tremendously talented, dedicated and highly motivated student-athletes. From administration to coaches to players, we all share in the excitement for their opportunity.

“We are extremely fortunate to have the environment, resources, and culture to help prepare our student-athletes on a daily basis for the next step in whichever path they choose.”

Also, BK Selects goaltender Michaela Hesová (Hovorčovice, Czechia / Dartmouth College) will again suit up for her native Czechia, following up a dazzling performance last summer in her international debut. She started all five games for the Czechs, posting a .944 save percentage and two shutouts as they made a run to the quarterfinal round.

McCarthy, who hadn’t played above the 16U level entering last summer’s tournament, said competing with and against the world’s best under-18 players helped speed up her on-ice mental processing.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with my skill and skating and stick-handling,” she said. “I think the processing is a huge separator between (age) levels. It’s helped me slow down the game mentally and make decisions (more) quickly, even if I have more time.”

Team USA has been placed in Group A with fellow powers Sweden, Finland and defending champ Canada. All four are guaranteed a spot in the playoff round after playing three round-robin games, as two quarterfinal byes will be up for grabs. Group B nations Czechia, Slovakia, Switzerland and Japan will battle for the two remaining playoff spots, with the bottom two forced to play a two-game relegation series for the right to stay in the tourney field in 2024.

Last June, Bishop Kearney alum Laila Edwards won tournament MVP in Madison, Wisconsin, scoring four goals and assisting on four others for Team USA. Current BK Selects 19U goalie Ava McNaughton (Wexford, Pa. / University of Wisconsin) also made the 2022 team, but she aged out of the pool of eligible players this time around.

The 2023 IIHF U-18 Women’s World Championship begins Jan. 8 in Östersund, Sweden and concludes a week later. The 2022 event was postponed from its usual mid-winter timing, setting up this quick turnaround to the next one.

The author can be reached at matt.gajtka@gmail.com.