VANCOUVER - Team Canada, three time world champions and 1995 Pacific Women's victor, is bringing the best international women's hockey to British Columbia for the first time when they play host to the United States, China and Japan during the1996 Pacific Women's Championship in Richmond, from April 1-6.
Women's hockey exploded onto the international scene in 1990 when the first Women's World Championship took Ottawa by storm. Over 10,000 people cheered on Team Canada to a heart stopping 5-3 victory over Team USA.
TSN carried the game live, and Sports Illustrated, McLeans' Time , TV Guide and all major Canadian newspapers gave overwhelming coverage to the event, which served as a catalyst for the ensuing enthusiasm and overwhelming increase in participation world wide. That competition alone has been credited with increasing women's hockey registration over 200% in a single season.
In 19 Canada continued to dominate and show why hockey is the Canada's national game for men ... and women.
Canadian Hockey's women's high performance program is currently in full development and each passing day sees new ground being broken as Team Canada heads towards their first appearance in the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano Japan in 1998.
October 1995 saw the first Olympic evaluation camp which resulted in a list of the top 30 players at that time in our country. The top 20 players will be in Richmond and each one of them has the Olympic dream in their hearts.
Five of these players named to Canada's 1996 squad were at the first world championship and they are now committed to playing for the first women's team in Nagano. These players are France St-Louis, Geraldine Heaney, Judy Diduck, Stacy Wilson, and Angela James.
Times have changed since 1990, however, and the competition is becoming more intense as more players become involved and are starting at earlier ages to become involved. Playing for Team Canada today involves intensive off-ice conditioning, lots of travel, mental training and single-minded commitment to a goal.
The team is made up of a wide variety of individuals - teachers, professors, students, mortgage officers - who range in age from 17 to 37, each with a different story to tell.
Some veterans played in the first ever national club championship and are the true pioneers in women's hockey. This blend of experienced and less experienced, older and younger, career women and students, comes together on the ice under some solid coaching to produce the kind of hockey British Columbians may not see again in person for some time.
It is an opportunity to see first hand some of those players who will be on television in February 1998, in Nagano, making their dreams come true.