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Canadian women eager for final test

Record crowd could watch Olympic preview on New Year's Day

Tuesday, 12.15.2009 / 10:46 AM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Canadian women eager for final test
Tessa Bonhomme and the Canadian women's hockey team are pointing toward their pre-Olympic showdown with their biggest rival, the United States, on New Year's Day at Scotiabank Place (Hockey Canada photo).
So it’s not exactly what’s meant by the phrase ‘home for the holidays.’

But for about half the members of Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey team, the New Year’s Day matchup with the United States at Scotiabank Place will represent just that. It’s a rare opportunity for the Calgary-based national team to put its talents on display for an eastern Canadian audience.

“It means a lot for them to play in Ottawa,” Canadian head coach Melody Davidson said of the team’s players who hail from Ontario and Quebec. “Our eastern girls only get a few chances to play out east all year. It’s a huge game for those girls.”

Fans in Hockey County certainly agree. Nearly 13,000 tickets have already been sold for the 7 p.m. game, with sales moving briskly as the matchup approaches. By the time the puck drops, the game could attract a record crowd for a women's hockey game, topping the 15,163 who saw the U.S. beat Canada 3-1 on Jan. 26, 1998, less than a month before the sport made its Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan.

It’s also the last of a six-game series between the two countries expected to duel for gold on Feb. 25, when the women’s hockey final is played at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

“It’ll be the last time we play them until we meet at some point during the Olympics, so it will be very motivating for our girls to do well (in Ottawa),” said Davidson. “More important in the short term, it gives people in the east a chance to see us live and get behind us as we move forward to Vancouver.”

Canada has won the first three games of the current series against its biggest rival, including a 4-2 triumph on Saturday night in Denver. Gina Kingsbury of Rouyn-Noranda, Que., Gillian Ferrari of Thornhill, Ont., Montreal’s Caroline Ouellette and veteran Hayley Wickenheiser of Shaunavon, Sask., scored the Canadian goals.

"It means a lot for them to play in Ottawa. Our eastern girls only get a few chances to play out east all year. It’s a huge game for those girls." - Melody Davidson
The two teams play again tonight at Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome, then Dec. 30 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul., Minn., before ringing in the New Year in the nation’s capital.

In November, Canada whipped the Americans 5-1 to win the 4 Nations Cup in Finland, avenging a 3-2 loss in round-robin play. It was the last major women’s tournament before the Olympics.

Davidson said the Canadians, who won the previous two Winter Olympic golds in Salt Lake City (2002) and Turin, Italy (2006), are on the right track heading toward Vancouver 2010. The current roster sits at 23 players, with two more cuts to make before the Games.

“It’s a process,” said Davidson. “By the time we get there, we’ll have played a 60-game schedule and we’re at the 40-game mark now.

“We’re building toward being the best (team) that we can be in February.”




1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
3 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
4 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
5 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
6 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
7 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
8 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48


E. Karlsson 74 19 41 9 60
K. Turris 74 22 32 -1 54
B. Ryan 70 18 35 9 53
M. Stone 72 19 33 14 52
M. Hoffman 71 26 20 19 46
M. Zibanejad 72 19 24 2 43
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
C. MacArthur 54 13 14 -10 27
D. Legwand 72 9 18 2 27
A. Chiasson 68 11 15 -4 26
A. Hammond 14 1 1 .938 1.92
C. Anderson 14 12 8 .923 2.48