Chinese women go western

JASON HILLS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

The Edmonton Chimos will have a new opponent this season.

The Chinese national team made an agreement with the Western Women's Hockey League to be part of the upcoming schedule for this season.

"It will be interesting to see how they progress over the next three months," said Chimos President and owner Dee Bateman.

"They are currently in Calgary training at the Oval for the next three months. They are used to only playing 10-15 games in a season. Coming here they'll have the chance to play more than 30 games."

The Chimos will get their first look at China tonight when the two teams battle at the River Cree Arena (7:30 p.m.).

China will play a series of games against all five WWHL teams as well as some exhibition games against other women's hockey teams at the college and university level.

Also part of the agreement has China loaning out two players to each of the respective WWHL teams.

"It was something that we agreed on. It gives these players an opportunity to play on very some very good teams and their team can play against some of the best women's hockey teams in the world," said Bateman.

Defenceman Bawei Yu and forward Rui Sun are the two players from the Chinese national team that will play with the Chimos this season. They will face their Chinese teammates five times this season.

" 'Sunny' (Rui Sun) is a very dynamic forward and she would be considered one of our top four forwards on the team," said Bateman.

"Bawei (Yu) is pretty young and we have a strong defence core with some strong additions, so she'll have a tougher road to climb, but we think she'll be a big part of the team as the season goes on."

China is preparing to host the 2008 Women's World Hockey Championships and with the tournament also acting as a qualifier for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver they decided this would be the best way to prepare themselves and get better.

"They want to be better and they want to make sure they have a strong showing at the World's and guarantee them a spot in the Olympics," said Bateman.

"I think that eventually you will see more countries doing an International exchange and if we see that Women's hockey will only get stronger."

LEAGUE CHANGES: The Saskatchewan Prairie Ice will take one year leave of absence after they couldn't get enough support from the Saskatchewan Hockey Association.

The WWHL will run with seven teams this season that include the Chimos, Calgary Oval Extreme, Strathmore Rockies, B.C. Breakers, Minnesota Whitecaps and the Chinese national team.


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