A lot of people are crossing their fingers that world juniors go without any hindrance.
Of course there are players who have a sweep attack every day from their nose, which ensures that COVID-19 has not entered the Edmonton bubble – which unfortunately happened. We learned on Friday. Not to mention the organizers, who have been working for months to ensure that the tournament is planned.
But there will also be a particularly attentive group of spectators: members of the Canadian senior women’s team, who hope with all their hearts that the bubble will remain airtight.
Because in four short months, the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is about to host the Women’s World Championship, the most awaited annual event for women hockey players, with the exception of the Olympic Games.
“Our World Cup will be influenced by the success of juniors,” said Laurien Rugue, a member of the Canadian team at the Sochi and PyeongChang Games.
If they are having trouble there [à Edmonton], We are afraid that it will be difficult for us to make a bubble [à Halifax]. It affects everyone, so we really wish it was successful.
This notion is unfounded: Press Was able to confirm with the International Ice Hockey Federation that we wanted to learn from the World Juniors, the first competition since the onset of the epidemic, to plan a tournament in Halifax.
A smooth fortnight in Edmonton will also bring rare good news for Hockey Canada, which has had to cut its staff due to the epidemic. And organizing the planned Women’s World Cup in April would appear to be a balm for the players, who canceled the event in 2020 at the height of the first wave of spring transition.
In fact, other than a series of exhibition games played last winter against the United States, the Canadian team has not participated in a formal tournament since the 2019 World Championship.
If the stars align in their favor, players can come together for the first time in January in a pre-World Cup training camp, which itself, will inevitably be the final selection stage for the Games. From Beijing in the winter of 2022.
“Not many things are coming up for evaluation,” says Golki N-Renee DeSibens. But we know that hockey is doing its best to accommodate Canada and give everyone an equal chance.
“Especially with the arrival of the vaccine, we expect that in the next few months, something solid will happen for us,” adds the goalkeeper for the starting position at the Beijing Games.
Finally on ice
Rougeau and Desbeans as well as their teammate Ann-Sophie Betz chatted Press Last Thursday night, minutes before hitting the ice for group training.
A surprising statement in itself, as team sports are banned elsewhere in Montreal and in the red zone. However, the high-performance hockey center 21.02, managed by coach Danielle Souvague, received a waiver from Quebec, giving attendance to its group of fifteen Olympians, who are preparing for the 2022 Games.
Therefore players meet on ice five times a week. They are seen as a “bubble” – like a class in a game-study program, for example – and therefore cannot be trained with other people. There is no question of playing the game yet, but just being able to drill on ice is a big relief in itself.
“It’s encouraging,” simply summarizes Bitz. At the age of 33, after joining Hockey Canada two years ago, she was keen to participate in her first games.
The former Montreal Canadiens star striker admitted to experiencing a “moment of panic” when a second imprisonment was announced in early October. Suddenly, no more gymnasium or arenas.
We told ourselves: “What are we doing?” This is an important year for those who want to make it to the national team. Danile worked very hard to get a discount. It gave us a new lease of life.
Before gaining the right to train in a group, players were temporarily content with a compromise that allowed them to rink only two at half-time. “It’s better than zero, but you get too fast,” said Bitz again.
One of the objectives is not to lose this achievement now, and we are working hard to achieve it while strictly respecting the health protocols in place. The players agreed to make them stronger by wearing masks on ice, although they did not require it.
In addition, routine is a traditional training. Intra-team matches are held, but “it’s not easy to make an appearance of two minutes or more!», Laffs Bitz. “We adapt, we’re all in the same boat.”
Players were not inactive despite months at home, on the contrary. Hockey Canada’s physical coaches provided them with training programs, and mental preparation services were provided to them. “But there’s nothing like a match,” notes Ann-Renee DeSibens.
Speaking of a match, the three players’ eyes light up when asked if they would be ready to take the opponent on short notice. The eternal rival of the United States, for example.
“In any case, there will be a lot of potential to score, because there will be a fight”, Laurienne Rougue said.
“It will become very competitive very quickly,” says Anne-Renee DeSibens. We haven’t seen a contest in a long time, but after one or two appearances, everything will come back and adrenaline will kick. There are things that cannot be forgotten. ”
“Especially against Americans”, she takes care to clarify, laughing.
Allow them to take it.
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