Antal refuses to show fear

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Full steam ahead.

Dana Antal promises she's back to full health and refusing to play with any misgivings about last year's injury.

The Olympic Oval X-Treme opens the inaugural Western Women's Hockey League season this weekend, playing host to Vancouver's B.C. Breakers in a tripleheader.

"Heading into this year, I feel good again and I feel confident,"Antal revealed yesterday at a press conference to introduce the 2004-05 X-Treme.

The 27-year-old from Esterhazy, Sask., broke her tibia and fibula during last fall's Thanksgiving Festival, the national team's training camp.

She underwent surgery and had to sit out most of last season, returning in time to wrap up the X-Treme's NWHL schedule and help defend Canada's title at the world championship.

"Last year was really difficult,"she said. "I was in fantastic shape. I had a little bit of bad luck ... Injuries obviously happen. I have to look forward and not focus on the past."

Nor will she let the past hold her back from returning to the top of the X-Treme's goal-getters list.

"No," she said. "When you start playing with fear, it increases the chances of getting re-injured. I worked really hard through the summer with all the girls.

"I wouldn't be playing now if I was afraid."

MAKING THE JUMP: The new season brings new faces to the X-Treme roster, including Denise Soesilo, a 17-year-old from Hamburg, Germany.

Soesilo trained with the Olympic Oval's silver development program last season.

Now, she's ready to take the step up to the big club.

"This is the best team I've ever played for," said Soesilo, a member of Germany's national women's team. "It's such high-level hockey but I think I can make the change."

The German coaches, she said, are excited at the opportunity lying before Soesilo.

"They think it's great," she said, a smile breaking across her face. "It's such a great opportunity for me to get better, playing with Hayley Wickenheiser and Danielle Goyette.

"There is so much for me to learn from these players."

The X-Treme takes on the Breakers, led by 1998 U.S. Olympic gold medallist Cammi Granato, at the Oval. Game times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Minor-hockey players wearing their jerseys will be admitted for $1.


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