It’s not something you see everyday, but we may see it again soon.
As the perennial top 2 teams in Womens Hockey, Team Canada and Team USA opened their 6 game Olympic tune up series in Burlington Vermont on October 12th. As with all previous Olympics, the two teams are the overwhelming favourites to battle for the gold medal in Sochi this February. That said, between the two, there’s not a lot of disparity and their match-ups are often intense and physical, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Canada held a 3-2 lead with just over 3 minutes left in the third period when USA’s Monique Lamoureux drove hard to the net, taking out Canada’s Sharon Szabados in the process, leading to an all out line brawl.
Canada ended up holding the USA off and winning the game 3 – 2. The two teams will square ff again tomorrow night in Boisibriand, QC and 4 more times before the new year so expect to see some more fireworks between these well matched squads as they tune up for the Olympics. Click here for a list of game dates and locations.
It was a beautiful afternoon in Canmore when I approached a group of campers playing basketball outside the high school. As I like to do at the end of each week, I casually asked the group of 10 – 13 year olds what their favorite part of the week was, and was shocked by their response. “The lecture” replied one girl immediately. “Yeah! The lecture on Tuesday with Caroline Ouellette.” replied another. Meeting an idol like Caroline Ouellette can be exciting for sure, but this week of camp in the rockies included 15 hours of on-ice instruction from some of the worlds best female players, fun games on and off the ice, nature hikes along the Bow River, a camp talent contest and even some white water rafting. What on earth did Caro talk about that trumped all of that? “She told us about how important it is to work hard in school so we can play at a good University.” they told me. Now that’s confusing!
My realization that I don’t understand kids notwithstanding, the story made me think about the grander issue at play. As a director of Just for Girls hockey camps, I’m constantly doing comparisons between the girls and guys hockey and one thing I’ve noticed this year separates the two completely, and it’s about giving back. The best female players make a point of giving back to the sport that gives them notoriety and the best example is Caroline Ouellette, or Caro as she’s known by her teammates.
3 Olympic Golds, 5 World Championships, 2 Clarkson Cups and an astounding NCAA career that leaves her 10th in all-time scoring. There’s nothing Caroline has to prove to anyone at this point, she’ll go down as one of the best to ever play, and yet she’s still so driven. As I arrived in Canmore to set up the camp, she was biking 125 km with 300 others to raise money for Right to Play. The next day she was on the ice instructing, but taking time after practice to pose for some photos and sign some autographs. You’d think with a resume like hers she’d tell people about all the great things she’s done, but instead, she talks about the kids; their future and the importance of education.
Caro is just one example in a sea of motivating and inspiring people that compete in ladies hockey. Where the high level men tend to hide in their mansions and on their private golf courses, the ladies are out there each summer, teaching, mentoring, and helping to grow the sport that they themselves created. By sharing their love for the game with the campers, they’re ensuring the future of women’s hockey and I can tell you for sure that it’s only going to get better.
Finally some action I can follow. In this brief clip of game 4 of the 1933 Stanley Cup finals between the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers, the first thing I noticed was how slow everything happens. You can still see the grit and determination necessary to win the cup, but the action itself moves at a pace that could be followed by a first time viewer.
I’ve played hockey my entire life at various levels and now work at a hockey company and get to see what all of the kids coming up are doing now. That said, I had a hard time following the play during the recent cup finals; it was just too fast. With all of the positive advancements in equipment technology and rule changes brought in to make the game more exciting, I fear they’ve created a game too quick for a non-hockey fan to get a grasp of. Perhaps its time to bring back FoxTrax to help all of us keep track of what’s going on in the new, superfast NHL.
Its spring again in Canada and with the anticipation of exchanging our jackets and boots for shorts and sandals it’s always a great time of year for us as Canadians. The snow is melting, the neighbourhood streets are full of people and although the hockey season might be over, there are plenty of sports on TV to keep us occupied. The NCAA March Madness and NHL playoffs are action packed, baseball is back and the Masters always reminds us that golf season is just around the corner. But there’s one sport that caught my eye this spring like never before; The Women’s World Hockey Championships, and the future of women’s hockey is bright.
In front of a crowd of over 18,000 screaming fans in Ottawa, the US and Canadian Women’s national teams put on the most exciting hockey game I’ve watched all year. Continue reading →