CALGARY, AB -- Ray Bennett, of Red Deer, AB, and Daniele Sauvageau, of Montreal, have been named as the assistants to head coach Shannon Miller on the Canadian Women's Olympic Hockey Team, Canadian Hockey announced Thursday.
Both Bennett, 34, and Sauvageau, 35, were assistants under Miller, 33, on the staff that coached Team Canada to its fourth consecutive gold medal at the Women's World Hockey Championship in Kitchener, ON in April.
Miller was hired as Canada's first full-time head coach of the National Women's Team the first week of May.
'These were not difficult appointments to make,' said Bob Nicholson, Canadian Hockey's senior vice-president, hockey operations. 'Shannon, Ray and Daniele have established an exceptional professional chemistry and did a superb job in leading Canada to a gold medal at the Women's World's.
We believe this is the best coaching staff we can assemble to lead our National Women's Team in its mission to bring back the gold medal from the first-ever Women's Olympic Hockey tournament at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan next February.'
Bennett begins work at the Royal Bank Canadian Hockey Centre in Calgary on June 1. He will remain on staff with Canadian Hockey following the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. Sauvageau will move from Montreal to Calgary in August and work full-time right through the Olympic hockey tournament.
'I'm very, very excited about this,' said Bennett. 'For me, this represents an opportunity to go to the Olympics with a team that is as committed to winning a championship as any I have ever been associated with. To be able to work with an extraordinary group of athletes on a daily basis, to help them develop to their full potential is a marvellous professional opportunity.'
Bennett was general manager for the 1995 World Junior Hockey Championship in Red Deer. IN 1997, Bennett was an assistant coach with Team Pacific at the Under 17 World Hockey Challenge.
For Sauvageau, who has been a member of the RCMP and the Montreal Urban Community Police for 12 years, the appointment is the culmination of years of commitment to high-performance female hockey.
'This is a dream come true for me, the cherry on top of the sundae,' said Sauvageau. 'When I started coaching there wasn't even a World Championship, let alone an women's hockey tournament at the Olympics.
'This is going to be one of the biggest challenges of my life in sports, that's for sure. I owe a lot to my family, Hockey Quebec, Canadian Hockey and the Montreal Urban Community police force.
'Without their support, I'd be a regular cop walking a beat. Hockey is my passion and coaching is my avenue to express that passion and I will do whatever it takes to get the job done.'
Sauvageau's coaching resume includes three straight gold medals (1994-96) as head coach of Team Quebec at the Esso Women's Nationals. She also was head coach of Team Quebec in 1997, when the Edmonton Chimos, representing Alberta, beat Quebec in the gold medal final.