Edwards was an alternate captain on the U.S. team that won the silver medal at the 2022 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Madison, Wisconsin.
She tied for the U.S. lead with defenseman Sydney Morrow and was tied for third among all players with eight points (four goals, four assists) in five games. She was named the tournament’s most valuable player, its best forward and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.
“She’s earned her way into this position,” U.S. women’s senior national team coach John Wroblewski said. “I believe in her long-term, otherwise she wouldn’t be here. I’m just excited for her and all the work that she and her family have put in to be in this position, and just come in, enjoy it, and perform when her number gets called.”
Wroblewski said Edwards brings a combination of size (6-foot-2), skill and hockey sense to an already formidable U.S. team.
“The thing that you start to notice right away is her brain and how she sees plays develop,” Wroblewski said. “Whether they connect every time is irrelevant. You just notice that the player can see the things that are happening out there and is processing them.
“Often, what you’ll get from a player who is physically overwhelming for the opponent [is that] he or she will rely on those physical attributes and therefore the hockey IQ isn’t that sharp. It’s just the opposite with Laila. Her brain might be a bigger attribute than her size.”
Edwards making the U.S. team didn’t surprise her sister, Chayla Edwards, a 22-year-old graduate defenseman at Wisconsin. She has witnessed her younger sibling’s growth from the blue line.
“Coming in, she was pretty good, a threat on offense,” Chayla said. “I can just see little plays here and there and how much quicker she’s gotten and how she sees the ice even better. She’s definitely matching, if not exceeding, the pace and skill level of our game. She’s just becoming more of a threat, and it’s really cool to see.”
The sisters got into hockey through their father, Robert Edwards, a recreational hockey player and fan. He and his wife, Charone, would take their daughters skating almost every day with their older brother, Bobby, who went on to play club hockey at Bowling Green State University.
Laila Edwards said she called her father after she received the national team invitation to share the good news.
“He said what he always says,” she said. “’This is where the work begins.’”
The remaining Rivalry Series games are Dec. 14 at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Kitchener, Ontario (7 p.m. ET; NHLN); Dec. 16 at Progressive Auto Sales Arena, Sarnia, Ontario (7 p.m. ET; NHLN); Feb. 7 at SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (8 p.m. ET; NHLN); Feb. 9 at Brandt Centre, Regina, Saskatchewan (8 p.m. ET; NHLN) and Feb. 11 at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota (2 p.m. ET; NHLN).