The IIHF world championships are drawing some of the sport’s brightest lights to Halifax, including Hayley Wickenheiser, who shared a little of her aura with aspiring young athletes yesterday.
“You want to watch the best players in the world at a young age, you want to learn from them — whether now it’s Sidney Crosby or whoever it is — and pick up the things that they do,” said Wickenheiser, who learned to skate in her backyard rink at age five.
The captain of Canada’s national women’s team met with about 30 young hockey players at the LeBrun Recreation Centre arena in Bedford yesterday to impart advice on how to make the national team, share skills on the ice, sign autographs and answer questions.
Today she will meet students at William King Elementary and Cunard Junior High in Herring Cove. The purpose of her visit is to generate support and interest for the Canada Games, which come to Halifax in 2011.
“This is hockey town and it’s fun to be here,” said Wickenheiser, who played here in 2005 for the IIHF women’s world championships.
While she says the fastest-growing sport for females in North America has come a long way, there are still challenges.
“We need more corporate sponsorship within the country,” said the mother of one. “We need a league where all the players can play and maybe be paid to play. We have a long way to go, but it’s come a long way.”