CALGARY -- The Women's Olympic Hockey team has released Dana Antal of Esterhazy, SK, Carol Scheibel of Wilcox, SK and Sami Jo Small of Winnipeg, head coach Shannon Miller announced Monday.
The deletions reduce the roster to 25 Olympic hopefuls as the club prepares to compete at the first-ever women's hockey tournament at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan next February. Miller will announce a final roster of 20 players in early December.
"We released the three players we feel, even after two months of development with the National Women's Team, are not ready to compete for Canada at the Olympics," said Miller. "The remaining 25 players all are capable of playing at the Olympic level, so now it's up to them to perform to their best, both in practice and in games, and it's up to the coaching staff to determine the best 20-player team.
"It is always difficult to release players, but the three players we have released are among the top 28 female hockey players in this country. That in itself is an accomplishment to be proud of."
Antal, a 20-year-old forward, was invited to the Olympic Team's training camp following a strong season with the Cornell University varsity women's team in 1996-97. Small, 21, is an accomplished all-around athlete who has attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA the last three years on a track and field scholarship. Scheibel, 20, played for the Olympic Oval High Performance Women's Hockey Program team last season.
The Women's Olympic Team, which assembled at the Royal Bank Canadian Hockey Centre in September to prepare for the Olympics, continues its 27-game schedule with a three-game series against Team USA in early November. The two teams will play on Nov. 7 in Bathurst, NB, Nov. 8 in Saint John and Nov. 10 in Kitchener, ON before departing for Finland on Nov. 11. The Women's Olympic Team will play in a tournament against Finland and Sweden from Nov. 12 - 20 before returning to their home base in Calgary.
So far this season, the team has fashioned a 6-1 won-lost record, its only loss a 5-4 defeat to Team USA in a shootout on Saturday, Oct. 25 in Salt Lake City. The record also includes a pair of wins over the Chinese National Team and four victories against Team Sweden.