Hockey trio strikes gold

CHRIS OCCHIUZZI -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Although it won't take place in Italy, it will be no less meaningful for three local players when they take on the U.S. Olympic women's hockey team.

Orleans' Allison Paiano, and Ottawa's Emilie Berlinguette and Kim Pearce have been selected to the Eastern College Athletic Conference all-star team, which will play an exhibition match against the U.S. squad on Nov. 1 at Yale University.

Getting an opportunity to compete against some of the best women players in the world as they prepare for the Turin Winter Olympics is the stuff dreams are made of.

"I'm really excited," said Paiano, who has tallied 82 points (41 goals, 41 assists) in 106 games for the Colgate Raiders. "It's really an honour and it should be really fun."

Berlinguette, a forward with the St. Lawrence Saints, echoed Paiano's sentiments.

"Just to be with the other girls of the same talent on the same team ... it's great," said Berlinguette, who has scored 48 goals and 61 assists in 112 games for the Saints.

Her Saints teammates are almost as happy as she is. "They think it's a great opportunity to play the U.S. team," she said.

On the all-star team, Paiano will be surrounded by familiar faces. Roommate and linemate Becky Irvine of Lakeview, N.S., was selected to the 21-player roster, along with fellow Raider Tara French of Truro, N.S.

As well, Paiano and Berlinguette were teammates in both ringette and hockey while growing up in Ottawa. They also spent the 2001-02 season with the NWHL's Ottawa Raiders, prior to being recruited by their universities.

"It will be great to play together again," said Berlinguette.

SUMMER CAMPING

Paiano and Pearce, a forward with the Princeton Tigers, also skated with each other this year at a summer hockey camp run by Paiano and her father Lucio. The co-ed camp ran Sunday nights from June through August, and included local NCAA, junior and midget-aged players.

"It should be fun to play with them again," Paiano said of Berlinguette and Pearce.

Pearce, a junior majoring in sociology, was the Tigers leading scorer last season, collecting 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 31 games.

Berlinguette, a fine arts major, is graduating this year and says she's keeping her options open for the future. She wants to keep playing competitive hockey, but isn't sure where.

"(I might be) going back to Ottawa and playing with the Raiders," said Berlinguette, who has dual Swiss-Canadian citizenship and hasn't ruled out moving overseas and "playing for the Swiss national team."

As for Paiano, she's decided to take a break from competitive hockey at the end of the season and is looking forward to keeping active by training for a triathlon.

"There's life after hockey," said Paiano, a senior in international relations and French.

However, she doesn't intend to completely cut Canada's favourite sport out of her life.

"I'm always going to be part of hockey, whether it be coaching or playing oldtimers," Paiano said.

"I love hockey."

chris.occhiuzzi@ott.sunpub.com


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