HELSINKI, Finland – Members of the National Women’s Team call it Drevak, a loose Czech translation of “cement hands”.
Head coach Melody Davidson decided to end Canada’s practice on Friday with a friendly game of Drevak. The rules are simple – each of Canada’s 19 skaters gets a chance to score in a shootout.
If you score, you’re out of the game and safe. If you don’t, you have to keep going … and going … and going. The last player left without a goal is the winner … or loser.
On Friday, with the National Women’s Team in Helsinki in preparation of the 2009 IIHF World Women’s Championship, rookie Catherine Ward (Montreal, Que./McGill, CIS) ended up as the lone shooter to not score in the shootout.
Jayna Hefford (Kingston, Ont./Brampton, CWHL) has been a part of many Drevak games in the past. She says the game brings out the best competitive fire in players.
“It’s to simulate the pressure you may have on you in the shootout,” Hefford says. “It’s a tough game. It’s tough on your confidence if you end up in the bottom five but it’s a little bit of fun. But there will always be a new day and a new loser. There have been some good players who have been on the list.”
Canada’s National Women’s Team arrived in Helsinki on Wednesday and has enjoyed two solid days of practice. On Saturday, Canada will take to the ice in the first of two exhibition games against local Midget AAA boys teams.
Hefford, one of Canada’s veterans, says the first two days of practice have given players a good chance to get to know new linemates. Canada’s roster includes a number of youngsters in Ward, Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont./Cornell, ECAC) and Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, QC/Dawson College, CEGEP), just to name a few.
“We have some new line combinations, we have a lot of young players, so it’s really about getting experience for them, getting used to the international ice again and getting some familiarity with our lines and some chemistry going,” Hefford says.
Davidson has been impressed with the level of energy Canada’s players have had in the first two days of practice, especially when taking into account a long trip overseas on Tuesday.
“(The energy) was high the very first day,” Davidson says. “Our practices have been a little long just because we’re challenged for the extra ice time. We’ve gone longer than normal and I think they’ve had good focus and have brought good energy from start to finish.”
Canada also plays a Midget AAA boys team on Sunday before taking to the ice against Finland’s National Women’s Team on Tuesday in its final pre-tournament game. The 2009 IIHF World Women’s Championship opens on April 4, with Canada taking on China.