Canada’s National Women’s Team started the 2005-06 season by finishing with a silver medal at the 2005 IIHF World Women’s Championship in Linkoping, Sweden. Since that time, the program has been focused on the upcoming 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy.
Twenty-seven players attended a three week training camp in Charlottetown, PEI that started on . The players trained both on and off ice everyday, lived in cottages on the beach, endured a triathlon, and concluded the camp with a bike and camping trip. The stay was a memorable one, and was considered a tremendous success for building team chemistry.
The players then disbursed to their separate home towns before centralizing in Calgary, AB starting . With a few exhibition games in Calgary against Finland and Canada’s National Under-22 team, the senior team left for Hameenlinna, Finland to participate in the 2005 Four Nations Cup. Not only did Canada capture their second consecutive Four Nations Cup over the USA by an identical 2-1 score, Hayley Wickenheiser became the first Canadian women’s team member to score 100 career international goals.
Team Canada returned to Calgary to train, and start their Midget AAA schedule. They left for Europe at the beginning of November to compete in the 2005 Torino Ice Pre-Olympic Tournament. With a chance to have a “dress rehearsal” for the Olympics, Canada went undefeated with a perfect 4-0 record, including a 7-0 win over the USA in the Championship game. The venues were full of energetic school kids, and if that was any indicator as to what the atmosphere will be like at the Olympics, the players were excited with anticipation.
Canada faced the USA in a pair of games in Columbus, OH and Chicago, IL which the two teams split, the first time USA had defeated Canada this season. With training continuing in Calgary, the National Women’s team enjoyed playing the Alberta based Midget AAA teams a total of 22 times, finishing with a record of 10-10-2. Many attribute the success Canada has had so far to the games versus the more physical Midget AAA boy’s teams.
Sweden traveled to Calgary at the beginning of December for a series of three games, which Canada took three games to none, but Sweden continues to put up a great fight and make the Canadians earn everything they get.
Before a well deserved Christmas break, Head Coach Melody Davidson announced Canada’s 2006 Women’s Olympic hockey roster of 22 players in Vancouver, BC in conjunction with Canada’s Men’s hockey roster announcement on December 22. Players then departed for their respective home towns and enjoyed Christmas with their families.
After the Christmas break, Canada and the USA faced each other for the final two times prior to the Olympics. Both teams won on the road as Canada defeated the USA 4-2 in St. Paul, MN, with the USA returning the favour as they beat Canada 5-3 in front of a 12,000 + crowd at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, MB on News Years Day. The final series record between the two hockey power houses finished with Canada taking the 10 game season series 8-2.
The month of January was spent preparing for the January 29th departure to Turin, Italy. Canada finished off with three straight wins over the Midget AAA boys teams, and showed that they could certainly compete against anyone in that league.
Team Canada finished their 2005-06 season with an impressive 32-12-2 record in all games, and a 19-2-0 record versus its international competition. The final game before the Olympics will be played in Val Pellice, Italy on February 3rd against Sweden in the final tune-up before the games get under way February 11 when Canada faces the host nation Italy.