In 2002, when Scarborough’s Cherie Piper was named as a late replacement to Canada’s Women’s Olympic Team’s roster, the 20 year old was a full fledged rookie. Piper had no World Championship experience and obviously no Olympic experience. Despite that shortcoming, Piper made solid contributions as Canada went on to its first ever gold medal win in women’s hockey.
Four years later, with three World Championships under her belt, the forward has become one of the key players on this team, combining with linemates Gillian Apps and Hayley Wickenheiser to form the most impressive line at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
“I think it’s a different comfort level. Last time, I was walking into a different situation, coming into a great dressing room full of a great people, but at the same time, I was a rookie. This time, I’m playing more confidence. I have phenomenal linemates and I just think we’re moving the puck really well. We’re putting them into the net too, so it’s good timing.”
The line was put together this year by the coaching staff, but Apps and Piper already have a history, as teammates at Dartmouth College.
“We’ll played a lot together this year. Gillian and I played together at Dartmouth (College) for the last three years so we’ve known each other for a long time. I kind of always know where she’s going to be on the ice and Wick’s a great hockey player, that’s a given. She sees the ice, moves the puck and has a great shot.”
Piper is now on the verge of making women’s hockey history, earning a berth in the gold medal game against Sweden on Monday, February 20th.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s a chance to do something that hasn’t happened in women’s hockey, a chance to win two gold medals. We’d like to be the first country to do that.”
You can bet that the Swedes will be spending much of preparation time, trying to find a way to stop the Piper-Apps-Wickenheiser line. And on the other side, Canada is getting ready to face a team whose confidence is at an all-time high, and a goaltender, Kim Martin, who has the ability to steal a game.
“She (Kim Martin) is a phenomenal goaltender. We’ve just got to outwork her. We’ve got to get traffic to the net, to get lots of shots, to get her to move laterally.”
Piper on Sweden upsetting the U.S. in the semi-finals
“It’s just goes to show all those people that have been saying that there is no parity in women’s hockey. It’s been this way for awhile and we’ve been trying to tell people that. We’ve had a lot of close games with both Sweden and Finland last year and previous years. It just goes to show that it’s not a two-horse race anymore.”