Canucks put streak on line

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Team Canada will find itself in fine company if it wins next month's women's world hockey championship.

A gold in Linkoping, Sweden, will put the national women's hockey team in a tie with the Soviet Union for consecutive world titles with nine.

Forward Hayley Wickenheiser is tickled to have that opportunity at the April 2-9 tourney.

"It's a great accomplishment to be in the company of the Russian Red Army, probably the greatest hockey team to ever play at the international level," said Wickenheiser, following yesterday's Hockey Canada press conference to announce the team roster.

"To have the opportunity to even that record and even win 10 in a row would be unparallelled in sport anywhere."

Team Canada might have its ninth consecutive title last year, when it defeated the U.S. in Halifax, had the 2003 tournament not been cancelled due to the SARS outbreak in China.

No country other than Canada has won since the tournament started in 1990.

Danielle Goyette, a veteran of seven titles, doesn't want that to change.

"I will do everything in my power to make it happen," the 38-year-old forward said.

Despite her experience with Team Canada, she counts herself lucky to be named to the roster each time it happens, especially with the crop of young talent.

Three rookies have cracked this year's lineup: Goalie Charline Labonte of Boisbriand, Que.; University of Wisconsin defenceman Carla McLeod of Calgary; and forward Sarah Vaillancourt of Sherbrooke, Que.

The Calgary Oval X-Treme put six players on the roster, including Wickenhiser, Goyette, Cassie Campbell, Correne Bredin, Kelly Bechard and Colleen Sostorics.

Team Canada women know a ninth world title won't be easy. Wickenheiser said Sweden and Finland are getting closer in talent level to Canada and its arch-rival, the U.S.

"If you look at the men's game, for many, many years, Canada dominated or Russia dominated the world scene," said Wickenheiser, who played pro men's hockey in Finland for one season. "In the women's game, it's no different.

"When you step on the ice, it's not a given anymore. You have to play a very good game to win."


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