National team goalies never know who is going to start

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:13 PM ET

Just over a month to go, and nobody knows who Team Canada's starting goaltender will be for the Olympic women's hockey tournament.

Heck, after practice yesterday the two contenders for the position didn't even know which one was going to play against the U.S. in a pre-Olympic tune-up down in St. Paul, Minn., tonight.

That's in stark contrast to the men's team, which has known Martin Brodeur is its No. 1 guy since, oh, four years ago.

"We never know who's the No. 1. We're not like men's hockey," veteran Kim St-Pierre said. "We never know who's going to play. We're used to it."

This is St-Pierre's eighth season with the Nats, and even though the 27-year-old led the Canucks to the gold medal in Salt Lake City four years ago, she's not a lock to start in Turin, Italy.

That's just the way it is in women's hockey.

And it suits Charline Labonte, 23, just fine.

"I would love it," Labonte said. "That's what I've been working for. I'm not looking for the backup spot. I'm looking for the first spot."

She and St-Pierre know these last two tune-up games against the U.S. could go a long way in determining who gets the call in Italy.

GOT YANKS' NUMBER

You see, beating Sweden, Finland, or even a AAA midget boys team, is one thing. If the coaches think you've got the Yanks' number, it's another, entirely.

"Every time we play the States it's very important to show you want to be the starter in the finals at the Olympics," St-Pierre said. "But I don't put too much pressure on myself.

"We're not really competing, looking at each other and saying, 'Oh, you let in more goals than I did.' We know we're in competition."

These two Quebec natives could be driving each other crazy, because they're not only friends, they're roommates in Calgary.

"We don't talk about it," Labonte said. "We don't need to."


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