The fan excitement surrounding the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Hockey Championship is on the rise, regardless of which games you attend.
Six-month-old Kyler must be the youngest Team Canada fan in the arena at this tournament. With his parents, Mike and Jody van de Vijsel of Winnipeg, the infant enjoyed his first-ever hockey game Saturday afternoon with Germany and Kazakhstan. The family bought the whole package for the tournament and made plans to bring little Kyler to afternoon games.
Jody, a forward who plays for the recreational Team Aftica here in Winnipeg, commented on her excitement about the event: “I never had the opportunity to play when I was young. It’s a thrill for me to come and see them play.”
The van de Vijsels family, who attend the odd Manitoba Moose game, said they have a soft spot for Germany, especially the spectacular performance by netminder Viona Harrer during the game against Canada Thursday night.
And hockey fans are coming into Winnipeg from all over the province. HockeyCanada.ca met up with another Manitoban family from the nearby community of Morden.
Jim Mutcheson was Team Kazakhstan’s host in Morden during March’s exhibition round. He commented on his experience with the team: “Very easy people to please. There were a lot of thank-yous.”
With the Kazakhs only having 184 registered female hockey players to choose from for their national team, Mutchenson said it was still great to see this former Soviet republic involved in the sport. He watched Saturday afternoon’s game with his children, Aaron and Abbey, and he was favorably impressed. “It’s an amazing program for the amount of girls there are,” Mutchenson said. “It’s the first time we’ve seen them in competition. The girls look good with their speed and passing.”
Aaron plays midget hockey and Abbey plays with the Morden bantam team.
“It’s inspiring,” said Abbey of this tournament. She had a chance to hang out and even skate with the Kazakh players during their stay in Morden last week. Her favourite player on the team is Viktoriya Sazonova.
The entire Morden girls’ hockey program had the opportunity to skate and get a picture taken with Team Kazakhstan. It will definitely be something for the girls to show off at school.
Even fans from Europe are coming out. German-born biotechnology student Cordula Buse got a chance to watch her native country in action versus Kazakhstan. She’s in Canada on a work placement. “Before I came here I never saw an ice hockey game before,” Buse said. Friend and co-worker Francisco Mendoza added: “It’s really entertaining.”
As the stakes rise at the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship, the excitement is building as well. From fans to players, it adds up to one electrifying hockey outing.