OTTAWA — The city has once again been given the honor to host the IIHF tournament welcoming elite women’s hockey teams from eight countries.
Ottawa saw two events commemorating the history of women’s hockey in Canada. The first was the unveiling of an ice sculpture in the Ottawa ByWard Market and then later that evening a reunion of Team Canada alumni during the Canada vs. Finland game.
One of the IIHF’s premier sponsors, RBC Play Hockey, commemorated the 1990 team with a half relief and half 3D sculpture of a Team Canada Lucky Loonie bearing a female hockey player in the middle.
There were three Team Canada alumni members, Geraldine Heaney, hockey hall of famer Angela James, and Nancy Drolet, on hand to unveil the sculpture along side RBC Regional President Jeff White.
“It was a lot of firsts for a lot of people,” said James, when reflecting back to 1990. “I think it is pretty special (that the tournament has returned to Ottawa). I am looking forward to it.”
“It was unbelievable,” said Drolet, of how it felt to play in the first championship in 1990. “Just for the chance to put on a Canada jersey. Just to go out and play in front of thousands of fans and play the game that we love.
Later on that evening the ladies reunited with their old teammates along with several other player and staff alumni from the 1992, 1994 and 1997 gold medal teams.
The Team Canada alumni included two-time Olympian Thérèse Brisson, former Olympian and team captain Cassie Campbell-Pascall, and former coach Melody Davidson. The group of 35 players and 20 staff assembled and were met with a standing ovation.
There was a short video presented on the big screen with interviews and clips remembering how much Canadian women’s hockey has progressed.
Scotiabank Place also played host to the Ontario Women Hockey Association that evening. With many young girls from all over Ontario, competing in the provincial hockey championships, making up part of the record breaking over 18,000-person crowd.
Brisson and Campbell-Pascall were asked by MC Stuntman Stu from radio station Magic 100 what words of encouragement they had for the young girls in the audience who hope to one day put on a Canadian jersey.
“Follow your heart,” said Brisson. “Play with passion and do things you want to. And I say that to all the little girls and all the big girls too.”
The audience erupted in cheers when Campbell-Pascall said simply, “Don’t let any dumb boys tell you that you shouldn’t play hockey.”
Over 20-years later and so much in the sport of women’s hockey has changed. But it is the passion that Canadians have for the sport which was celebrated Friday, that will never change.