“I want to help my team win gold.”
Nothing else will do, according to veteran Team Canada forward Jayna Hefford of Kingston, Ont., who was referring to the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, coming to the nation’s capital April 2-9.
Twenty-two of Canada’s elite female players, including Hefford, gathered for a training camp in Ottawa during a bitterly cold week in January, in preparation for the upcoming world championship. Attending was an eclectic mix of seasoned veterans and future stars, all anxious to show the coaches that they deserve to be included on the final roster for Canada’s National Women’s Team.
Their common goal is to play in – and contribute to – the Canadian squad that will take to the ice this spring in a battle for world championship bragging rights. They all know that winning gold will only come from incredible dedication and teamwork. Hefford, 35, has won three Olympic and seven world championship gold medals, and is therefore no stranger to what it takes to succeed on the ice.
Following a practice at Carleton Ice House during that recent winter training camp, Hefford said facing off this spring at SBP Arena will be almost like playing at home. After all, old friends and family members from Kingston are only a two-hour drive from Ottawa.
She knows that Canada’s National Women’s Team can count on Ottawa fans to show great support for Team Canada. Hefford points to a pre-Olympic exhibition game January 1, 2010, played at the SBP Arena between long-time rivals Canada and the United States. It was a history making match-up, drawing 16,347 fans for a record-breaking women’s hockey crowd.
Canada won the game 3-2 in a shootout, with Hefford herself scoring that exciting game-winner in front of an arena full of delirious fans. Hefford recalls the “great atmosphere,” and expects the same excitement – and even more impressive crowds – at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
During the run-up to this year’s world championship, Hefford said she’s challenging herself to be at her very best, and to continue being a team leader both on and off the ice.
As the oldest player on the roster at the recent Canada’s National Women’s Team winter camp, Hefford has come a long way since she first laced up her skates for the red and white, just as the female game itself has taken great strides since she first got her start.
Hefford vividly remembers watching the first-ever IIHF Women’s World Championship on television 23 years ago – the last time the event was held in Canada’s capital city. Hefford had always loved hockey, but at that moment imagined herself wearing the Team Canada jersey, as she watched her role models sport the now infamous pink jerseys.
Now one of those role models for young female players herself, Hefford’s message for hockey fans is, “This is an opportunity to see high-level hockey, and to see a great Canadian team bring home gold.”