May 18, 2011
Ottawa to host women's worlds
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - To the one and only other World Women’s Hockey Championships held in Ottawa 21 years ago, Canada wore a pretty pink.
Next time the tournament is here, in 2013, the home team aims to try on something shiny and gold for a change.
Two more global titles will be contended before then, but the Americans have won the last three gold medals in the non-Olympic event pitting the best women hockey players on the planet.
Canada claimed the first eight, and one other, of the 13 to date.
“This country has hosted five world championships and we’ve won gold all five times,” said Bob Nicholson, the president/CEO of Hockey Canada, said in announcing at Scotiabank Place Wednesday that an Ottawa bid put forth by the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association and Senators Sports and Entertainment was chosen over applications from St. John’s Nfld. and Kamloops, B.C. “We’ve won gold nine times and that is our ultimate goal.”
Canada and the U.S. have played in the gold medal game every year, which makes for a great rivalry but also speaks volumes of the other countries involved. When it comes to women’s hockey, this continent is in a different league.
“That certainly is a concern world-wide,” said Nicholson, speaking of the overall competition level. “(But) we’re not going to slow down. We’re going to try to get better. We have something to show here. The U.S. beat us the last world championships and we’ve never lost on home soil, so we’re going to try and keep that tradition going.
“This is our preparation for the 2014 Olympics, but as we prepare for the next world championships, it’s about getting this group better.”
And players pushing each other for jobs.
“We’ve had 79 women’s players put on the Canadian jersey for world championships, and we’ve got some new players coming,” said Nicholson. “It’s going to be a challenge to see who can make the team over the next few years.”
While games not involving Canada and the U.S. will be a tougher sell, Senators president Cyril Leeder welcomes the challenge.
“There will be a high interest, obviously, in the Canada-U.S. games, but I think all the games will have some interest and will be well attended,” said Leeder, who has been in discussions with the NHL regarding the 2013 schedule and has been assured there will be no conflicts. “We’ll find a way to make sure we’ve got good crowds here for all those games.”
In conjunction with the worlds from April 2-9, Ottawa will also host the provincial championships from April 5-7. The provincials will lure about 500 teams and 11,000 participants.
Together, the tournaments will bring in approximately $35 million to the community, Mayor Jim Watson said.
“It will bring great prestige to our city, and it will lead to increased economic activity,” said Watson. “This is really more than just hockey, but hockey is obviously the primary reason.”
Fran Rider, president of the OWHA, pointed out that women’s hockey has come along way since the last time the tournament was here.
“We’ve built from that 1990 event when the team wore pink and certainly the general public was wondering about this phenomena of women’s hockey,” she said. “This truly will be a celebration.
“This is going to be the event of the century.”