A “relief” for Canadian female hockey players

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More than a year after playing their last official game, Canadian team hockey players can put a return-to-play date on their calendar. And this is what they were asking for.

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Women’s hockey has made several tough knocks over the last two years. The Canadian League was disbanded in the spring of 2019 that forced many players to conduct a pre-season tour of North America before the World Championships were scheduled for Nova Scotia last year.

Even though the epidemic is still raging, Hockey Canada and related authorities have decided to proceed with the presentation of the 2021 Worlds in Halifax and True from 6 to 16 May. Canadians will face Finland in the tournament opener at the Scotiabank Center, home of the Mossheads at QMJHL. The duel against the Americans will take place on May 11 in the preliminary round.

“It is a relief to be sure and we are all very excited to play. “To know that there are dates on the calendar and we’ll probably put this jersey on is a sentiment that’s hard to explain,” said Mary-Philippe Pullin, the most prominent player on the Canadian team, telephone interview with the Journal.

Long preparation

About 30 players participated in two pre-fitness camps organized by Hockey Canada, the first in Calgary in late January, and the second in the host city in early March.

Despite strict sanitary regulations, re-soaking himself in such an environment after several months of uncertainty was good for Pullin.

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“We trained a lot in Montreal [au Centre 21.02 de Verdun], But had an exciting time being with all the best players in Canada. We had a chance to push each other and there was competition. It was also fun to play intra-team matches.

For goalkeeper Ann-Renee Desbeans, who took a year-long hiatus after the PyeongChang Games, these two meetings allowed her to see that she was progressing with her elite class in the country.

With intra-team matches, it’s nice to know where we are and the matches help to have a different perspective. […] I trust all the efforts I have made in the last few years. If someone calls on me, I will answer the call, ”said the athlete from La Malbi.

Sluggishness to curb

Canada’s last world title is back as of 2012. Since then, Maple Leafs representatives have won Olympic gold in Sochi in 2014, but most have received four silver medals and one bronze, their hands at the world championships. In addition to the second place in South Korea at the 2018 Games.

There is no doubt that the motivation to regain his place at the top of his game hierarchy will be stronger than ever with this return to home. Discussions continue as to the possibility of viewers being admitted to the stands.

“When we apply this logo, there will always be pressure. We also want to win and we are aware of the results of the previous world championships and the last Olympics. Our motivation is there and we are turning to this pressure for that inspiration, ”assured Polin, who is preparing to participate in his ninth championship.

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“I will not talk of pressure, but of motivation, and it is something that will help us to perform. You have to focus on the little things and forget about the external factors that you cannot control.

A new routine with the epidemic

Like members of the Junior Team Canada during the holiday season, Marie-Philippe Pollin and her teammates had to come to terms with the new reality of events in the context of an epidemic.

After some positive cases at the start of the under-20 selection camp in November, Hockey Canada tightened its health protocol. No other cases were detected during the tournament. The recipe was implemented during both camps of the Canadian women’s team.

With the exception of training in the arena, players were invited to stay in their hotel rooms where they would attend virtual meetings and deliver their food to the door. He also had to undergo regular screening tests. A very different routine.

“I won’t lie, it was an adjustment in the beginning. You are alone in your room, we have room service and we only go from the arena to the hotel and vice versa. Having said that, we have to keep us busy.” A very good team, ”said Pollin, who has just celebrated his 30th birthday.

Notably reading and video sessions were on the menu.

“Everything is filmed, and when you come back from a game, you have a chance to do more videos, we had a meeting with the coaches and we were also told about the mental aspect. We have many tools and it is up to us to use them, ”added the two-time Olympic gold medalist.

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No excuse

In fact, while Canadians were limited to all-weather training, their American and European rivals were able to play. In some cases plenary sessions.

“We have to adjust, but it won’t be an excuse because we had a chance to practice a lot,” said Palin, who took the opportunity to hone her personal skills during these long hours of training.

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