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Women's world hockey stage within striking distance for Coquitlam's Jordan Baxter

She's been invited to a selection camp that could see her in a Canada jersey for the very first time at the IIHF U18 championships.

So close, she can see it nearing her grasp.

After a successful summer camp and an impressive start to her 2021-22 season, we could be seeing Jordan Baxter's first appearance in a Team Canada sweater as early as the new year.

The Coquitlam product has been invited to a selection camp later this month that will decide who will head to Sweden in January for the 2022 IIHF U18 Women's World Championships.

Baxter is one of 40 young women that will venture to St. Catherine's, Ont. for Boxing Day (Dec. 26), one of seven from B.C. and one of three Delta Hockey Academy teammates — joined by goaltender Hailey MacLeod and defence Tova Henderson.

For the governing body of the sport in our country, this is an event they've waited for nearly two years after the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2021 tournament.

"We were able to gather together in the summer to train, compete and play some games in a competitive setting," explains Hockey Canada spokesperson Gina Kingsbury. 

"With the world championship right around the corner, our athletes and coaching staff are eager for this opportunity to get back on the ice and put our off-ice work into practice, with a goal of representing Canada and competing for a gold medal."

Baxter flourished in her experience with Hockey Canada's top coaches and staff at the U18 summer development camp in Calgary.

Since its full return after the pandemic, the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) has seen the 16-year-old forward light up the board with 13 goals and 22 points in 11 games with the Delta Wild thus far.

That's the second-highest of any other player in the CSSHL's Female U18 Prep division, seven points more than her next closest teammate and an average of two points per game.

Baxter also found success in the fall on the national stage in leading Team B.C. to gold at the 2021 Western Regional Women's U18 Championships.

She scored two of the province's three goals in their 3-2 overtime win over Alberta. She finished with a tournament total of four goals and six points. 

Baxter was one of 21 young women in Canada in spring this past year to participate in the inaugural Scotia Rising Teammates initiative that pairs them with top female professional and national team players to learn and take inspiration from their journeys.

The four-week program included weekly virtual meet-ups with players and coaches, as well as one-on-one Zoom calls with their mentor. Baxter's buddy was Sarah Nurse — silver medallist with Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Now, Baxter looks to make the national under-18 team after selection camp takes place between Dec. 26 and 31 and bring back a gold medal to Canada after the 2021 team settled for silver.

The 2022 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship is scheduled for Jan. 8 to 15 in Linköping and Mjölby, Sweden.

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