VANCOUVER - Three of the top four women's national teams, along with the host country for the 1998 Winter Olympics Games in Nagano, Japan, will be in Vancouver for the Pacific Women's Hockey Championship at the Richmond Minoru Arena from April 1 .
Canada will play host to the second annual official International Ice Hockey
Federation championship featuring China, Japan and the United States. Canada opens against Japan, and China
faces the United States on April 1, with the medal games being played
on April 6.
The inaugural event was played in April 1995 in San Jose, California, with Canada defeating the United States in a shoot-out in the gold medal game. The three-time world defending champion, Canada, and the three-time world silver medalists, USA, played to a 1-1 draw after 60 minutes of play, and 10 minutes of overtime. The Canadians out-scored the Americans 3-2 in the shoot-out to win.
China, with a fourth place finish at the 1994 World Championship, shut-out Japan 5-0 to take the bronze medal at the 1995 Pacific Women's Championship.
"We will certainly be lining-up with our strongest team possible," said Bob Nicholson, Canadian Hockey senior vice-president, hockey operations. "We named our 20-player roster last November following an intense evaluation camp for over 50 players.
"With the 1997 World Women's Championship in Kitchener, Ontario, just over 13 months away, and 1998 Nagano Olympics in 24 months, the upcoming Pacific Women's Championship will serves as a key benchmark for all four squads,' adds Nicholson.
Head coach Shannon Miller of Calgary will lead the best 20 players in Canada today to the championship along with assistants Mel Davidson, also of Calgary, and Karen Hughes of Agincourt, Ontario.
Miller will have a squad that will be game-fit ready when it arrives in Richmond on March 28 for a pre-competition camp. It is expected that between 10 and 15 players on the Canadian team will be competing at the 1996 Esso Women's Nationals in Moncton. The national event runs from March 21 to 24 in Moncton, New Brunswick.
The other teams are also into their final preparation stage. Japan is coming to Canada the week before to train and play exhibition games in the Calgary area. The camp was set up by Rick Polutnik of Hockey Alberta, who was also Japan's assistant coach at the 1995 Pacific Women's in San Jose, and coached Canada to a gold medal at the 1992 Women's World Championship.
The USA will tune-up at a tournament at Concordia University in Montreal from February 2-4. Canadian team head coach Miller will be there to scout the United States and her our own players. The teams competing are the Toronto Aeros, Les Quatre-Glaces from Montreal, Team New Brunswick, Concordia University, University de Québec à Trois-Rivières and Team USA.
Both Japan and the USA will arrive early in Richmond for pre-competition training and exhibition games.
Ticket packages for the 1996 Pacific Women's Championship come in three variations: Family Packs, Twin Packs, and Tournament Packs.
The Family Paks price includes tickets for two adults and three children twelve years of age and under: $20 for round-robin and semi-finals; $50 for bronze and gold medal games; and $100 for tournament package.
The Twin Paks price includes one ticket for both games of the day: $8 for adults; $5 for students (13-17 years); and $4 for youths (12 years and under).
Tournament Paks are individual packages for all games, including medal games: $40 for adults; $27 for students; and, $22 for youths.
The 1996 Pacific Women's Championship schedule is as follows:
- USA vs China, 6 p.m.; Canada vs Japan, 9 p.m.
- China vs Canada, 6 p.m.; USA vs Japan, 9 p.m.
- Japan vs China, 6 p.m.; Canada vs USA, 9 p.m.
- Semi-Finals: 1 versus 4, 6 p.m.; 2 versus 3, 9 p.m.
- Bronze medal game, 1 p.m.; Gold medal game, 4 p.m.
Team Canada's 1996 roster is as follows:
Goalkeepers (2) - Danielle Dube, Vancouver; Manon Rhéaume, Charlesbourg, Que.
Defenders (6) - Therese Brisson, Fredericton, N.B.; Cassie Campbell, Brampton, Ont.; Judy Diduck, Sherwood Park, Alta.; Rebecca Fahey, Sackville, N.B.; Geraldine Heaney, Weston, Ont.; Fiona Smith, Edmonton.
Forwards (12) -Nancy Deschamps, Montreal; Nancy Drolet, Drummondville, Que.; Lori Dupuis, Williamstown, Ont.; Danielle Goyette, St. Nazaire, Que.; Marianne Grnak, Richmond Hill, Ont.; Angela James, Thornhill, Ont.; Luce Letendre, Brossard, Que.; Karen Nystrom, Scarborough, Ont.; Laura Schuler, Scarborough, Ont.; France St. Louis, St. Hubert, Que.; Hayley Wickenheiser, Calgary; Stacy Wilson, Moncton, N.B.
Coaching Staff - Head coach: Shannon Miller, Calgary; and, Assistant coaches: Melody Davidson, Castor, Alta.; Karen Hughes, Agincourt, Ont.