They’ve all converged in Calgary for the next six months with one golden goal in mind.
The 26 members of Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey team have established Calgary as their home base leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver next February.
“By having them here full time, it gives us time to go through the ups and downs of life and get to know each other better,” said head coach Mel Davidson.
Players willingly relocated to Calgary to prepare for Canada’s quest to three-peat as gold medal Olympic champions.
“It’s too bad it’s not every year,” said goalie Kim St-Pierre, who helped Canada win gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City and 2006 in Turin. “Hockey’s our passion.”
Along with fellow goalie Charline Labonte, St-Pierre moved into a house in the northwest neighbourhood of Tuscany with forwards Caroline Ouellette and Marie-Philip Poulin.
“We’re not only teammates, but we’re best friends too off the ice,” said Ouellette of the group, affectionately known as the Frenchies.
At 18, Poulin is the youngest member on the team this year and she appreciates the extra guidance she’s getting from her roommates.
“To be in this house with these Frenchies is a great experience,” said Poulin, who’s hoping to crack the final 21-player roster. “Just to sit at the table and chat with them is always fun. You learn so much from them.”
Labonte noted that Poulin has fit right in with the group.
“Sometimes we forget that she’s only 18,” said Labonte. “She really gets along with everyone.”
The Canadian women’s squad will hit the ice at Father David Bauer Arena this Saturday at 7 p.m. to face off against Sweden. Admission is free.
The team will then be heading to Vancouver from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6 for the Hockey Canada Cup, a four-team tournament with games against the United States, Sweden and Finland.
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