On January 1, 2010, if you were at the SBP Arena in Ottawa, you would have experienced an unforgettable game. It was one that shattered women’s hockey attendance records, with 16,347 fans filling the stands, and one that ended with Canada edging the United States in a thrilling 3-2 shootout.
And it started with an enormous Canadian flag floating on hundreds of hands as it circled the rink. The Canadian and American women’s hockey teams were facing each other in a superb pre-Olympic series.
Caroline Ouellette, 33, is a Team Canada veteran with three Olympic gold medals, plus six world championship gold medals. She vividly remembers New Year’s Day 2010 as an amazing experience, and during a recent interview in Ottawa, marvelled at the memory of “the biggest flag ever seen.” That game helped prepare the team to win gold the following month at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.
In less than a week, the puck will drop on the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, and SBP Arena in Ottawa will again host the cream of the crop in the female game.
For Ouellette, a Montreal, Que., native, every time she plays in Canada, whether it’s an exhibition game, world championship, or for Olympic bragging rights, those are “the best memories.”
“Come and see a game live, and give us a chance,” Ouellette advises fans far and wide, across the Ottawa area and beyond.
Catherine Ward, 25, is another Montrealer and Canada’s National Women’s Team member who loves to play in big international tournaments in her own country, where it’s easiest for family and friends to come cheer her on from the stands.
Ward admits that playing at home puts a little extra pressure on players, but adds it also gives them more energy on the ice. The jitters will be there for the first world championship game against the United States next Tuesday.
That January 1, 2010 game had “an incredible atmosphere,” according to Ward, and she expects it will be even greater at the games this April.
Also on Team Canada during that pivotal 2009-10 season were Hayley and Haley.
Almost everyone knows about arguably the world’s best female hockey player: Hayley Wickenheiser. But at age 24, the other Haley, Haley Irwin is proving to be a force to be reckoned with on the ice – she has already won her first Olympic gold medal, after all.
A product of Thunder Bay, Ont., Irwin is looking forward to the opportunity to play in another world championship, this time on home ice. She believes that having a supportive crowd is like having another player on the ice.
Irwin enjoys Ottawa. Her bucket list includes “skating on the Rideau Canal,” the world’s largest skating rink (imagine skating five kilometres on a breakaway).
She hopes hockey fans come out in droves to SBP Arena and the Nepean Sportsplex in April. “It’s competitive and there is high intensity,” she promises.
From Ouellette to Ward, Hayley to Haley, the members of Canada’s National Women’s Team don’t want you to miss the moment. Click HERE to get your tickets now!