Botterill is pumped up

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

It looks like Jennifer Botterill will need to brush up on her Italian.

Botterill, a forward from Winnipeg, is heading to Turin, Italy, in February after nailing down a spot on Canada's women's Olympic hockey team.

Canada's national men's and women's teams were officially unveiled in Vancouver yesterday afternoon during a nationally televised press conference from GM Place.

"It's really exciting," Botterill told the Sun from Vancouver last night. "Nobody was taking anything for granted this year and when I heard the news I was definitely thrilled.

CANADA LOVES HOCKEY

"We're so grateful Canada loves hockey so much that they announced the team on TV. It adds so much energy to it and was really thoughtful of Hockey Canada to have us share in the moment. Hopefully, this will help give women's hockey even more of a profile."

Botterill, who took home Olympic gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City and a silver medal from Nagano in 1998, is expected to be a key offensive contributor along with Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette and Cassie Campbell, among others.

"All of our lines are going to contribute, but it's nice to know the coaches have confidence in me to chip in," said Botterill, who will travel home to Winnipeg this week to spend Christmas with her family. "It's such a great group of people here."

Team Canada head coach Melody Davidson touched on the nation's increasing depth, noting the women's team could ice two teams that could be competitive.

Unfortunately for Manitoba's two other members of Canada's centralized roster, that second team won't be playing in Turin.

Goalie Sami Jo Small was passed over in favour of first-time Olympian Charline Labonte, who is expected to push starter Kim St. Pierre for playing time.

However, Small will still travel to Italy as the alternate goalie.

The news was also tough for Pilot Mound product Delaney Collins.

First-time Olympians Carla MacLeod and Gillian Ferrari got the nod as Canada elected to go with just five defence on the roster of 20 players.

Collins, who was limited to 15 games because of back and rib cage injuries, will only travel to Italy as an alternate if another defenceman is injured.

"If we had gone with six defencemen, it's likely she would have been that sixth defencemen," Davidson said during a conference call. "She's had some injury trouble and that factored into the decision. We're looking forward to her coming with us as an alternate and we're confident that if something happens -- and we're hoping it doesn't -- that she could step in and help us."

News that her fellow Manitobans were left off the roster was tough on Botterill.

"When we all got the news it was hugely devastating for them," said Botterill. "They're two of my closest friends on the team and they've both been playing well all year. I guess it's representative of the amazing depth we have on the team."

Small and Collins, who were back in Calgary and did not accompany the team to Vancouver for the announcement, could not be reached for comment.


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