A Look at The Teams in The Pacific Women's Hockey Championship; Team Canada Holds First Practice Today at Minoru Arena
March 28, 1996

VANCOUVER - Canadian head coach Shannon Miller steps on the ice today for a practice session with her team for the first time since last October in preparation for the 1996 Pacific Women's Hockey Championship in Richmond, B.C. With only four days remaining to the Championship, being held at the Richmond Minoru Arena from April 1-6, Team Canada, China, Japan and the United States are now fine-tuning their line-ups for exciting hockey action.

Miller, in her second year as Canada's Pacific Women's Championship head coach, takes a look at all four teams and gives her impressions on their strengths and weaknesses.

In October 1995, Canadian Hockey held the first evaluation camp working towards the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. From this camp, the coaching staff was named for the Pacific Women's Championship and they, in turn, selected 20 players to represent Canada.

Miller, of Calgary, is joined by assistants Melody Davidson of Castor, Alberta, and Karen Hughes of Toronto.

CANADA STRENGTHS - "Our offensive style is creative when it comes to scoring," said Miller, "and with our speed and excellent fore-checking, we are quite formidable when we cross our blue line."

Miller also noted that the Canadians will not be weak on defence. "We're big and agile, and have six defenders that can quarterback an attack if they have to. I am also expecting to have an excellent penalty killing percentage," added Miller.

CANADA WEAKNESSES - With only one loss in official international competition since 1990, that being a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Americans at last year's competition, it would seem that Canada does not have many weaknesses.

"Our biggest challenge is going to be the lack of experience we have in playing together," said Miller. "Even tough 14 of 20 players competed in last week's Esso Women's National Hockey Championships in Moncton, it's still not enough to build team chemistry."

Miller added that "because of this aspect of our team make-up, our power-play is going to be suspect in the early part of the championship. But as we get to know each other, our special teams should improve."

Ages on the team range from our youngest player at 17 to our veteran of 37 years. Five players are three-time gold medalists, and all have international experience. From the 1995 roster, 12 players are returning to action, and the eight others have played in a least one World Championship.

Placing at World (1990, 1992, 1994) and Pacific (1995) Championships:

1990 Worlds: Gold medal

1992 Worlds: Gold medal

1994 Worlds: Gold medal

1995 Pacific: Gold medal

Canada's record at World (1990, 1992, 1994) and Pacific (1995) Championships versus:

China 4 0 27 4
Japan 2 0 30 0
USA 4 1 23 11


China burst onto the international scene in Finland at the 1992 Women's World Championship after beating Japan at the Asian Qualifying Tournament. The Chinese squad placed fifth at their first world event, and at their second attempt in 1994 they lost to Finland 8-1 for the bronze medal.

All of the players are stationed in Harbin where they are able to practice on a daily basis. Competition is scarce, however, but the popularity of the game cannot be denied. At a recent game against Japan, over 9,000 spectators were present.

At the 1995 Pacific Women's Championship, they demonstrated a great improvement in skill, challenging the USA and Canada, and forcing the Canadians to a shoot-out win in the semi-finals.

In preparation for the 1996 Pacific Women's Championship, China claimed another Asian Games title at the beginning of February defeating Kazakhstan 13-0 and Japan 9-3.

The Chinese come into this year's event with virtually an identical squad from 1995. From their 20-player roster from a year ago, only three changes were made, and coaches Yao Naifeng and Zhang Zhinan also return behind the bench.

CHINA STRENGTHS - "One of the best aspects of the Chinese team is that they play within their game," said Canadian coach Shannon Miller. "They are not big players, but they more than make up for that in physical strength."

Miller also indicated that China is disciplined when it comes to positional play. "Defensively, they put together an excellent five-player block that forces their opponents to shoot from the outside. You can spend all game in their end and not get a shot on goal," said Miller.

CHINA WEAKNESSES - "They are not really strong offensively, in comparison to their defensive game," said Miller. "Their puck movement could be much better and they do not have a lot of offensive finish."

Placing at World (1990, 1992, 1994) and Pacific (1995) Championships:

1990 Worlds: did not participate

1992 Worlds: 5th

1994 Worlds: 4th

1995 Pacific: Bronze medal

China's record at World (1990, 1992, 1994) and Pacific (1995) Championships versus:

Canada 0 4 4 27
Japan 2 0 8 1
USA 0 2 5 17


Japan's fourth place finish in 1995 was not all that surprising, considering three of the world's top four squads take part in this competition, but what was disappointing was being out-scored 46-1 over five games.

Toru Itabashi heads the team again this year and he is joined by Takayuki Hattanda and Shunji Tanaka. At the 1996 Asian Games in February, Japan placed second behind China and ahead of Kazakhstan. They lost to China 9-3, but defeated Kazakhstan 6-2.

Of the 20 players they took to the Asian Games, only four changes were made from the 1995 team.

JAPAN STRENGTHS - "Their three main strengths, and most obvious when you see them play and practice, is their speed, discipline and work ethic," said Miller.

JAPAN WEAKNESSES - "Their main weaknesses lie in their individual size and strength," said Miller. "They are not as tough on the puck as other teams, and causes them some problems in getting any flow to their game."

From their one-goal offense output from the 1995 competition, Miller highlighted that, "they do not shoot the puck as well as the other teams, so they need to get as close to the net as possible. Combine that aspect with Œtoughness on the puck' and you get low scoring opportunities."

Placing at World (1990, 1992, 1994) and Pacific (1995) Championships:

1990 Worlds: 8th

1992 Worlds: did not compete

1994 Worlds: did not compete

1995 Pacific: 4th

Japan's record at World (1990, 1992, 1994) and Pacific (1995) Championships versus:

Canada 0 2 0 30
China 0 2 1 8
USA 0 2 0 26


The United States held a camp attended by 26 players with 17 returning from the 1995 squad, but the final roster of rookie head coach Julie Andeberhan sees 13 veterans from 1995, and only five players who have competed at the international level.

Andeberhan, who served as an assistant coach for the 1995 women's and under-18 teams, is a relatively new face behind the bench, but she was a member of the 1990 squad that captured a silver medal at the inaugural Women's World Championship.

Tim Gerrish, head coach of the men's ice hockey team at North Country Community College, and Jack Kirrane, a member of the gold medal-winning 1960 U.S. Olympic Team, will serve as first-time assistants for the 1996 women's team.

USA STRENGTHS - "Offense," said Miller. "The Americans do not lack in skill in their offensive game. They play a very intense and physical game, and are inclined to make sacrifices, like blocking shots. We will also have to be on the ball when they are on the power-play."

USA WEAKNESSES - "When you consider that we have met them in every gold medal game since 1990, there is not very much that separates us from the USA," said Miller. "Only Canada's 8-0 win in 1992 was lopsided. Our three other wins and our 5-2 loss in 1995 could have gone to either team."

Placing at World (1990, 1992, 1994) and Pacific (1995) Championships:

1990 Worlds: Silver medal

1992 Worlds: Silver medal

1994 Worlds: Silver medal

1995 Pacific: Silver medal

USA's record at World (1990, 1992, 1994) and Pacific (1995) Championships versus:

Canada 1 4 11 23
China 2 0 17 5
Japan 2 0 26 0

The 1996 Pacific Women's Championship schedule is as follows:

- USA vs China, 6 pm; Canada vs Japan, 9 pm

- China vs Canada, 6 pm; USA vs Japan, 9 pm

- Japan vs China, 6 pm; Canada vs USA, 9 pm

- Semi-Finals: 1 versus 4, 6 pm; 2 versus 3, 9 pm

- Bronze medal game, 1 pm; Gold medal game, 4 pm

For more information:

Lisa Dornan
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 / 403-510-7046 (mobile)


Morgan Bell
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-669-1261 (mobile)


Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada


Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4567 / 905-906-5327 (mobile)


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