Wickenheiser 'C's chance to lead team

JEFF WALLACE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

All Hayley the new queen of Canadian hockey.

Hayley Wickenheiser, the most recognized name in women's puck, will be front-and-centre as the captain of Canada's entry in the 2008 IIHF World Women's Championship.

With former captain Danielle Goyette and now- Hockey Night in Canada commentator Cassie Campbell gone, Wickenheiser is the undisputed leader of a younger national team.

"The face of the team is shifting to a bit of a younger player," said Wickenheiser, who was on hand yesterday when the team was announced. "It's a credit to the development of the game in Canada."

Wickenhesier, who will play in her 15th world hockey championships, is comfortable shouldering heavy expectations.

"The evolution of me as a player ... certainly the role and expectations of me have changed and evolved," said the native of Shaunovan, Sask., who resides in Calgary.

Familiar with Wickenhesier's evolution is defenceman Gillian Ferrari, who has dawned the Maple Leaf alongside her captain for six years.

"I feel like we have always looked to her (as a leader)," said Ferrari, a Thornhill, Ont., native and one of six rearguards named to Team Canada's roster yesterday.

Ferrari cites the drive and dedication exhibited by Wickenheiser as unparalleled and believes she is one of the best from whom any player can learn.

Wickenheiser understands leading by example is the best form of leadership but adds there is more than just her to bear the leadership role on this team.

Ferrari is one of those players who might lend a shoulder.

Calgary Oval X-treme teammate Ferrari is no stranger to being the stand-up leader. Ferrari was captain of the Under-22 National Women's team in 2001.

As a member of the women's national team program since 2001 and an Olympic Gold medallist in 2006, Ferrari says she still had trouble sleeping the last couple nights waiting for the phone to ring. Ferrari figured she must be cursed, as the last time the worlds were to be held in China, SARS broke out cancelling the competition.

Former national team stalwarts not making the trip are Vicky Sunohara, Sami Jo Small and Cheryl Pounder.

One recongizable member taking the place of the dropped veterans is former AJHL and current ACAC (Grant MacEwan) goaltender Shannon Szabados.

The national women's team will prepare with a four-day camp in Victoria, B.C., March 25-29 with two exhibition games scheduled against midget AAA teams before leaving for China. The worlds run April 4-12.


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