Home sweet home
Pre-tournament camp ahead of women’s worlds has given Meghan Agosta a rare opportunity to reconnect with southwestern Ontario
Jason La Rose
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March 28, 2017
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No one on the Canadian roster for the 2017 IIHF Women`s World Championship has played in more women`s worlds than Meghan Agosta, which means no one has been through more pre-tournament camps.

Through seven trips to the world championship, the weeks leading into the tournament have been rinse and repeat – reconnect with teammates, rediscover chemistry, come together as a team, chase a gold medal.

But this year holds a little more significance for Agosta, who is skating close to home; Leamington, Ont., where the Canadian women have gathered before they head south to Plymouth, Mich., for worlds, is just minutes from her hometown of Ruthven.

“It’s not even a five-minute drive,” Agosta says of the journey she made hundreds of times as a kid. “Just hop on Highway 34 and it brings you right into Leamington. When I played for the Southpoint Capitals, we played a lot at the old Leamington barn.”

The return of the local hero – Agosta is a three-time Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion – has brought plenty of friends and family to the Kinsmen Recreation Complex, which has been good and bad.

“It has been great running into people at the rink,” Agosta says. “They’re there with their kids, and it’s ‘Hey, how’s it going? I haven’t seen you in forever.’ I feel torn, because I want to stay and talk, but I can’t because I’m focusing on hockey, and people want to take pictures and get autographs.”

This week marks the first time in more than two years Agosta has come home; after winning her third Olympic gold at the 2014 Games in Sochi, she headed west to join the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), and all the vacation she has goes towards Team Canada.

So it has been an extra special few days, bringing her back to her small-town roots and bringing her closer to the fans who have jammed into the arena right from the first practice last Friday.

“I mean, who comes to practice? It’s a fun atmosphere,” Agosta says with a laugh. “We have so many fans, and so much support, it’s been unbelievable. Leamington is a hockey town, and I’m super lucky to be born and raised where I’ve had the kind of support I’ve had. Not just my family and friends, but the community as well.”

That support seemingly reaches from coast to coast for Agosta; with her duties with the VPD demanding most of her time, she hasn’t played a full season of club-team hockey since she led the CWHL in scoring with the Montreal Stars in 2012-13.

But that doesn’t mean she’s not on the ice as much as she can be, and she has plenty of options in B.C.

“I practice with the Valley West Hawks, a Midget team out of Langley,” Agosta says, “and those guys are like any other team we play in [an Olympic] centralization year – stronger, faster, longer reaches; those are the guys that prepare me to be at my best when it comes to playing at a world championship.

“I also play for the Vancouver Centurions (the VPD hockey team), and now than I’m 30 (she hit the big 3-0 on Feb. 12) I play with my brother’s 30+ team. So when I come here, I really don’t feel out of place. I feel like I’ve played more games than I’ve practiced, so I’m not really worried about it.”

That’s good news for the Canadian coaches, who lean on Agosta not only on the ice – she ranks sixth in all-time Team Canada scoring, having posted 155 points in 155 games – but off of it as well.

As the most experienced player on the roster, Agosta is counted on to be a leader, and to help get the next generation ready. It’s a role she likens to her work in Vancouver, and is one she doesn’t take lightly.

“With policing I have a lot of responsibility, and I bring that mentality [to camp],” Agosta says. “I have a lot more experience and knowledge of the game, so I’m able to be one of those players who can take the younger players under my wing and make them feel comfortable and confident.”

With almost 13 years of Team Canada hockey in her rearview mirror, Agosta is hesitant to talk about her future in the game. She knows she wants to take another run at Olympic gold next year in PyeongChang, but that means taking a year away from the VPD, a sacrifice she’s willing to make.

For now, though, the focus stays on today, and no further than that.

“I just take each day at a time, and I am very fortunate to still be where I am at, having a full-time career and playing the game I love so much,” Agosta says.

“I think with the job I have, you never know what you’re going to face going in to work on a day-to-day basis, putting your life on the line and things like that, I don’t take anything for granted. Just coming to the rink and getting excited to put your skates on and wear that jersey … it never gets old, it really doesn’t.”

For more information:

Lisa Dornan
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 / 403-510-7046 (mobile)
ldornan@hockeycanada.ca

 

Morgan Bell
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-669-1261 (mobile)
mbell@hockeycanada.ca

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
emadziya@hockeycanada.ca

 

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