Canada back on top of women’s hockey world, but the work stays there

Canada back on top of women's hockey world, but the work stays there

Canada’s women’s hockey team enters the world championship, remembering the words of a man who climbed Mount Everest twice.

Jamie Clarke, a Canadian adventurer who reached the top of the world’s highest mountain in 1997 and 2010, spoke to the women’s team twice in the weeks leading up to the February Olympics in Beijing, where the Canadian women won gold.

“He was talking about conquering Mount Everest. One of his messages was: you’re only on top for a split second,” said head coach Troy Ryan.

A world championship just six months after the Olympic final sees Canadian women once again battling for international supremacy. Canada is the reigning World and Olympic champion, having won both titles in the past year.

READ MORE: Poulin Leads Canada to Women’s Hockey World Cup

“Jamie Clarke, when he spoke to us, he really interacted with that,” said Canadian Captain Marie-Philip Poulin.

Story continues under ad

“He had that whole process to get to the top. It’s so worth it once you get there, but it takes about two seconds and then you’re at the bottom again trying to get back to the top.

“We had a great year, we had the world championship, we had the Olympics, we had a moment where we celebrated, but now we’re back to work.”

The 2022 Women’s World Championship in Herning and Frederikshavn, Denmark, is the first to be held in the same calendar year as the Olympic Games.

READ MORE: 5 years later, Sarah Potomak is back on the list of women’s hockey world championships

Defending champion Canada opens Thursday against Finland in the KVIK Hockey Arena in Herning, a city with 50,000 inhabitants 300 kilometers west of Copenhagen.

The IIHF considered women’s international hockey deep enough to make the world championship a true annual event rather than skipping it every four years during an Olympics. Another reason for the change is to encourage federations to invest more consistently in their women’s teams.

While the women’s championships were played in the lower divisions in the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, the lack of a top tournament every four years has been problematic for countries’ promotion and relegation.

Story continues under ad

A second summer women’s world championship in as many years continues the flow caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 and 2021 championships in Nova Scotia were both cancelled, with last year’s tournament being diverted to Calgary in August.

Post-Olympic retirements and the short lead time for countries to prepare for Denmark will be factors for all countries in this year’s event.

The 10-country field is minus Russia, banned by the International Ice Hockey Federation for that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sweden withdraws from the championship based on its world ranking.

Canada is in Pool A with the US, Finland, Switzerland and Japan. Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Denmark form Pool B.

Poulin scored the overtime winner against the United States in last year’s final in Calgary to stop the Americans’ streak of titles on five consecutive points.

READ MORE: Eldridge Scores Winner, Canada Beats US 3-1 for Women’s World Cup

The last time Canada won both world and Olympic titles en route to a world championship was in 2008.

“I don’t think there’s momentum itself,” Ryan said. “I think there’s confidence. I don’t know how you could come that year and not be confident.

Story continues under ad

“We had success last year and a lot of people probably feel like you just pick up where you left off. We have some areas that we think we can improve on, but you also don’t want to go into the new year thinking that you have to do things completely or fundamentally differently.

“We are almost approaching our year because we are so proud of so many areas of our game and the way we played, but in those areas there are some upgrades that can be made. For example, our offensive zone game, we were very happy with that, but we cannot be satisfied.”

Canada has reached the World Cup final for nearly a year since the inaugural tournament in 1990.

The Canadians took the bronze medal in 2019 when they were upset by host country Finland in a semi-final.

Story continues under ad

Canada will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup in April with a venue yet to be announced by Hockey Canada.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *