Canadian Hockey announced today the 33 athletes invited to a selection camp prior to the Three Nations' Cup involving the national women's teams of Canada, USA and Finland, the top three teams in the world today. Camp opens on October 14th in Ottawa with sessions every day until the first day of competition on . Head Coach, Shannon Miller foresees a challenge in getting this group of players down to a team of 20 for the event. "It is important that we take advantage of these opportunities to develop as many high performance players as possible, on our Road to Nagano, and we are extremely pleased to be working with 33 of our finest players."
All 20 members of the 1996 Women's Pacific Championship team are returning, lead by 1990 veterans, Angela James, Stacy Wilson, Geraldine Heaney, Judy Diduck and France St.Louis. Players with two world championships to their credit will also be present: Danielle Goyette, Nancy Drolet, Manon Rhéaume and Karen Nystrom. As they look to Nagano and even the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Canada is conscious of developing the next wave of national team players and this group is well represented by Hayley Wickenheiser, Cassie Campbell, Leslie Reddon, Laura Leslie all with World Championship experience and participants in international competitions since 1992.
The Three Nations' Cup will give these top three countries a chance to take each other's measure just prior to the 1997 Women's World Championship slated for March 31-April 6 in Kitchener, Ontario. The top five countries plus Japan from this event advance to the Winter Olympic Games in '98. Canada has not met Finland since the 1994 World Championship where the Finns took the bronze. They have faced the USA twice since then, most recently in Vancouver at the Women's Pacific Championship where Canada responded to maintain their unbeaten streak against a dangerously improved American squad. Finland struggled at the 1996 European Championships which lead to an overhaul of their team and the appointment of Head Coach Raoul Korpi, who brings years of experience at the highest levels of male hockey in Finland.
According to Bob Nicholson, Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations with Canadian Hockey, "Canada will have their work cut out for them as other countries start to invest time, money and energy into this first chance at an Olympic Gold Medal. We have a great program in Canada and three gold medals to prove it, but this is no time to rest on our laurels. We will see great changes in women's hockey over the next 18 months and it will be a great challenge for us to maintain our position as leaders".
The teams will meet each other twice during the week before a final showdown at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Other games will be taking place in Kingston, Cornwall, Smiths Falls and St. Lawrence University in New York. Local Host Committees are excited about this rare opportunity to stage an international women's ice hockey game and are planning a wide variety of special events to accompany the game itself. Head of the Ottawa Host Committee and President of the Ottawa District Women's Hockey Association, Rob Alexander expects "packed houses for some great hockey. We have a solid group of dedicated volunteers and I know we'll do a great job."