CALGARY – Canada won the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament for the third straight time seven months ago. After the gold in Vancouver, however, the team faces several changes before the 2011 IIHF World Women’s Championship in Switzerland and in view of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Melody Davidson, who has been coaching the team in five of the last six years, won’t be behind the bench, but became head scout of the women’s hockey program. She also joins the IIHF’s Women’s Committee with immediate effect.
While Canada’s coach for the World Women’s next spring is not known yet, Ryan Walter has been hired to coach the women’s national team at least until the Four Nations Cup that takes place in St. John’s and Clarenville, Newfoundland, November 9-13, with the United States, Finland and Sweden.
The 52-year-old will be joined on the bench by 1998 Olympic Winter Games silver medallist Laura Schuler, an assistant coach with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, and Ryerson University Rams head coach Stephanie White, who will serve as assistant coaches.
Most recently Walter was an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks. He played 15 years in the NHL for Washington, Montreal and Vancouver. He also represented Canada in three World Championships and captained Canada in the 1978 World Juniors. It will be the first time he coaches a women’s team – and he starts right at the top.
“It is always an honour and a privilege to represent Canada in international hockey,” said Walter. “I look forward to working with the athletes and staff of the National Women’s Team in striving for a gold medal at this year’s 4 Nations Cup.”
Walter met his new players first time this week in an evaluation camp in Calgary that includes 66 women of which he will choose 21 for Team Canada’s first event since the Olympics. 17 players who won the gold in Vancouver were at the camp while four decided to end their international career.
Long-time national team members Becky Kellar, Colleen Sostorics, Carla MacLeod and Gina Kingsbury announced their retirements from international hockey on Tuesday after concluding their successful careers with the gold-medal game on home ice. The first three represented half of Canada’s blueline at the Olympics, which might give Walter one of the bigger challenges.
The evaluation camp with four teams for an intrasquad tournament is the first step in determining the selections for various tournaments leading up to the World Women’s Championship in April 2011 in Zurich and Winterthur.
“This camp includes a terrific mix of veterans and young players, and we look forward to a competitive few days in Calgary,” said Brad Pascall, vice-president of Hockey Operations/National Teams for Hockey Canada. “This should be an exciting start to the 2010-11 season, as our women’s program works towards the 4 Nations Cup and beyond.”
Canada's 66-player evaluation camp roster
Goalkeepers: Beth Clause (Brock University/CIS), Christina Kessler (Burlington/CWHL), Liz Knox (Wilfrid Laurier University/CIS), Charline Labonté* (McGill University/CIS), Geneviève Lacasse (Providence College/HE), Amanda Mazzotta (Cornell University/ECAC), Kim St-Pierre* (Montreal/CWHL), Shannon Szabados* (Grant MacEwan University/ACAC).
Defencemen: Erin Ambrose (Toronto/PWHL), Courtney Birchard (University of New Hampshire/HE), Tessa Bonhomme* (Toronto/CWHL), Delaney Collins (Brampton/CWHL), Sarah Edney (Mississauga/PWHL), Gillian Ferrari (McGill University/CIS), Laura Fortino (Cornell University/ECAC), Annie Guay (Montreal/CWHL), Brittany Haverstock (University of Wisconsin/WCHA), Brigette Lacquette (University of Manitoba/CIS), Jocelyne Larocque (University of Minnesota-Duluth/WCHA), Stefanie McKeough (University of Wisconsin/WCHA), Meaghan Mikkelson* (Edmonton Chimos/WWHL), Cassandra Poudrier (Dawson College/CEGEP AA), Katelyn Ptolemy (Clarkson University/ECAC), Lauriane Rougeau (Cornell University/ECAC), Amanda Shaw (Burlington/CWHL), Bobbi-Jo Slusar (Strathmore Rockies/WWHL), Britni Smith (Toronto/CWHL), Catherine Ward* (Boston University/HE), Tara Watchorn (Boston University/HE).
Forwards: Meghan Agosta* (Mercyhurst College/CHA), Gillian Apps* (Brampton/CWHL), Hannah Armstrong (University of New Hampshire/HE), Vicki Bendus (Mercyhurst College/CHA), Christine Bestland (Mercyhurst College/CHA), Ann-Sophie Bettez (McGill University/CIS), Emmanuelle Blais (Montreal/CWHL), Jennifer Botterill* (Toronto/CWHL), Bailey Bram (Mercyhurst College/CHA), Jessica Campbell (Cornell University/ECAC), Ashley Cockell (Mercyhurst College/CHA), Mallory Deluce (University of Wisconsin/WCHA), Laura Fridfinnson (University of Minnesota-Duluth/WCHA), Jayna Hefford* (Brampton/CWHL), Haley Irwin* (University of Minnesota-Duluth/WCHA), Brianne Jenner (Cornell University/ECAC), Rebecca Johnston* (Cornell University/ECAC), Chelsea Karpenko (Cornell University/ECAC), Jenelle Kohanchuk (Boston University/HE), Noémie Marin (Montreal/CWHL), Laura McIntosh (Ohio State University/WCHA), Isabel Menard (Syracuse University/CHA), Caroline Ouellette* (Montreal/CWHL), Cherie Piper* (Brampton/CWHL), Marie-Philip Poulin* (Boston University/HE), Jamie Lee Rattray (Clarkson University/ECAC), Ashley Riggs (Burlington/CWHL), Jillian Saulnier (Toronto/PWHL), Jesse Scanzano (Mercyhurst College/CHA), Natalie Spooner (Ohio State University/WCHA), Kelly Terry (University of Minnesota/WCHA), Dominique Thibault (Montreal/CWHL), Sarah Vaillancourt* (Montreal/CWHL), Jennifer Wakefield (Boston University/HE), Catherine White (Cornell University/ECAC), Hayley Wickenheiser* (University of Calgary/CIS), Jessica Wong (University of Minnesota-Duluth/WCHA).
* 2010 Olympic gold medallists