January 2, 2006
Collins skates with nationals
KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

Delaney Collins isn't likely to play in the Olympics, but she still got a chance to strut her stuff yesterday in front of friends and family.

Collins, a 28-year-old from Pilot Mound, was left off Canada's Olympic roster two weeks ago, but she was designated as an alternate. She will play in Italy only if there's an injury.

"We're not keeping the alternates with the team just to have somebody around," head coach Melody Davidson said. "We want them game ready."

That, combined with the fact that yesterday's 5-3 exhibition loss to the U.S. was in her home province, resulted in Davidson inserting Collins into the lineup.

"It was great to be in my home province, and I know I had a lot of family in the stands," Collins said. "It would have been a lot better if we had a different result to the game, but it was a wonderful feeling knowing that I had a lot of family at the game."

RUDE WELCOME: Team Canada centre Jennifer Botterill was back playing hockey in her hometown for the first time since 1997, but her return didn't start well.

Botterill was on the ice when Krissy Wendell scored on a wrap-around to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead just 21 seconds into yesterday's game.

Davidson said the poor start put her team -- and especially Botterill's line -- on its heels for the rest of the contest.

"It affected those five on the ice, because I didn't feel like they ever recovered throughout the game," Davidson said. "They had moments, but they're definitely better than what you saw there."

Despite the outcome, Botterill had a great time in front of dozens of her close friends and family members.

"It was a great crowd tonight, and we wanted to show them more," she said. "I always feel that support from the city."

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE: There definitely hasn't been a crackdown on obstruction in the women's game, and it's driving Canadian forward Hayley Wickenheiser nuts.

"There's a lot of clutch and grab out there, and it really slows down the game," she said. "It takes away from the flow of the women's game. But on the bigger ice surfaces at the Olympics and such, you can't get away with that as much.

"So I'd really like to see the officiating change to what the NHL is doing. We can learn something from them."