What’s next for Jordan Baxter, who was honoured for her back-to-back gold medals with photo-ops, autographs and even federal recognition.
What if…. the Tri-Cities didn’t have its own dedicated female ice hockey association?
Who knows if Jordan Baxter would’ve been able to accomplish all that she has up until this point in her young career.
Would there be two gold medals with Canada’s national under-18 women’s team? A captaincy with a top-tier female prep school program? A scholarship to play NCAA hockey this fall?
It’s the catalyst the 17-year-old Coquitlam product is grateful for every day, and had the opportunity to talk about it at her official “homecoming” event Tuesday night (Jan. 24).
Dozens of family, friends and supporters got the chance to meet Baxter at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex, see/wear her world-champion hardware and ask questions about her successes.
Many in attendance included young girls wearing the very same Tri-Cities Predators colours she did she started playing hockey.
“Growing up with girls and being in the program with girls all through my years really helped me connect, make better friendships and find that love for my game,” Baxter said in an interview with the Tri-City News.
“I would credit [my success] mostly the friendships and connections I made.”
Baxter was able to put smiles on those young athletes’ faces when answering questions about obtaining the skills to be successful on and off the ice. She also took photos and signed autographs, too.
She was even awarded a federal “congratulatory certificate” from Port Moody—Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo for her inspirational example for the community.
That top-of-the-world, “one-of-a-kind” feeling was even sweeter this year as Baxter helped Canada win back-to-back under-18 women’s world titles in Sweden, beating the host country by a score of 10-0.
Seven months earlier, however, the centre/winger said there was no greater feeling than hoisting her first international trophy after defeating the U.S. in a closer 3-2 contest in Wisconsin.
This is set to open many more doors for Baxter as she continues to pursue her dream of wearing the maple leaf at the Olympics.
But between now and then, there may not be a lot of international opportunities unless she cracks the senior national women’s roster.
It’s current youngest players are 21 years old; Baxter will also be that age when the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics take place in Italy.
She believes now is the time for officials to organize a women’s equivalent of the under-20 world junior hockey championship to showcase the talent that’s up-and-coming in Canada and around the world.
“I think, considering the world juniors for men is probably the biggest tournament that they [the IIHF] have, it would be a really good idea for females to do that,” Baxter explained.
“There is an under-22 team, but they do not get to go to a world championship. They have a camp in the summer and they play an exhibition game against the Olympic team, but that’s about it. So yeah, I think that push to get [a tournament] for that age group would be really helpful for women’s hockey.”
Regardless of what happens internationally, Baxter said she’s looking forward to growing her game at North America’s highest level of collegiate sports.
She’s set to skate with Ohio State University this fall in NCAA Div. I women’s hockey, who just so happen to be the reigning national champions and include fellow Tri-Cities product Jenna Buglioni (Port Moody).
Baxter said her experience with Canada will play a big part in transitioning to university ice.
“Just coming together as a team with people from across the country, obviously, at a really high talent, sets me up for Ohio next year because I’ll be entering the school with a lot of different players haven’t played with before.”
As of this publication (Jan. 25), Baxter has recorded 18 goals and 31 points in 18 games as captain of the Delta Hockey Academy’s under-18 female prep squad in the Canadian Sport School league (CSSHL).
Between her first two international stints with Canada, she notched four points in 11 games lacing up alongside the country’s best of the best.
She’s also set to represent B.C. on the provincial women’s hockey team at the 2023 Canada Winter Games from Feb. 18 to March 5.
Baxter’s homecoming event Tuesday was organized by The Gamar Foundation and its Let Her Lead initiative, which showcases women in “positions of power and influence,” as well as the Tri-Cities Predators and Coquitlam Express.