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Further Random Hockey Thoughts – Women’s Hockey

April 7, 2013

The Women’s World Hockey Championships (WWHC) returned to Ottawa this week to commemorate the inaugural tournament that was held in the same city in 1990. Current Team Canada stars reminisce about watching that first tournament and how it gave them a goal, that like their male counterparts, they too could aspire to represent their country. The pink uniforms and bodychecking are long gone, but the skill level has increased and the drive to win has never been stronger.

Many former national team members remain involved in developing the sport, coaching at all levels in both domestically and internationally as well as running hockey camps and being as visible as possible. Support for the game  here has increased as shown by the record-breaking crowd for Canada vs Finland. Additionally, members of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) represent their home countries and there is a professional women’s league in Russia.

The women’s game continues to grow and develop. Ottawa welcomed Team Czech Republic as they made a quite respectable first appearance at the 2013 Championships . But for every tight game between the top two teams in the world, there is a 13-0 blowout.  After the 2010 Olympics there were many discussions regarding the elimination of the women’s game because it wasn’t competitive enough. Since then the IIHF and Hockey Canada have been working with other hockey federations to help develop the game in other countries.

Aside from the depth of talent to draw from, most US and Canadian players grow up with the game like most Europeans grow up with soccer. All the players in the tournament have a high level of athletic ability, and so far goaltending is not an issue (see Noora Raty, Florence Schelling ). Focusing on the physical skills like skating ability and puckhandling is just one step – the players need to know where to be on the ice.  The innate ‘hockey sense’ – the ‘its in our blood’ concept has to be developed.  The addition of top-level coaching and financial support will further this development.

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