April 14th – Exibition Game vs Sweden
Exciting day because we were finally getting the chance to play a game! We started the day with a short pre-game skate with the focus being on execution of the passes and flow drills to get our legs going. It was important to skate even though we had a game because we had a day off yesterday. Sometimes you might feel tired and sore even though you come from a day away from the rink. It is good to get back into communicating and playing together.
During lunch, we were able to question Ryan about his Montreal Canadiens days. Kim and I are quite passionate about hearing stories of the Habs! He talked to us about winning the 1986 Stanley Cup and how that team came together and peaked at the right time under the great leadership of captain Bob Gainey. It was also the first year of a young rookie called Patrick Roy, who according to Ryan, was the difference. No wonder Roy was accorded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. Patrick Roy was Kim’s hero growing up and the reason why she wears #33! Kim has the most wins in the history of the Canadian National Women’s Hockey team and why now many young girls wear that number. I was also able to ask Ryan about my idol Mats Naslund, #26, and it was great to hear from him that Mats was not only a great and skilled player but also an amazing teammate and leader. We learned that Ryan’s roommate was the great Guy Lafleur for several years. He also told us about when they lost in the final of the Stanley Cup in 1988-1989 against the Calgary Flame. This was the only time that a visiting team defeated the Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup on the Forum ice.
He said that it is so hard to get this far and not win, so heartbreaking. The playoffs are so long and grueling and to go this far and come this close yet so far from winning the cup is so difficult. He then told us he totally understood what Sidney Crosby meant when he said after the Detroit Red Wings defeated Pittsburg that he never wanted to have that feeling again. Sure enough, Sidney and the Penguins went on to win the cup the year after!
Our game vs. Sweden gave us an occasion to see where we were at in our preparation and also practice different strategies. We had a slow start and both Shannon Szabados and Kim Martin had to make excellent saves. We played one period without any goals. Then in the 2nd, Tessa Bonhomme made an awesome shot pass to me back door and I only had to redirect it over Kim Martin’s right pad to take the lead 1-0. Then shortly after, Hayley Wickenheiser scored a nice goal after a nice deceptive move on a set-up play by Meghan Agosta and Jayna Hefford. It was Hayley’s 150th goal with the National team! An incredible plateau to get to and most likely several more to come from Wick! For the 3rd period, Ryan combined Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Vaillancourt and I on a line. It worked instantly… almost too good to be true with us scoring 2 goals in 2 shifts! Sarah loves to communicate about what we can do better and how we can complete each other better on the ice, which I also love to do! We were called the French connection after that period where Sarah scored twice and we were on the ice for a goal from Catherine Ward with a nice shot from the point on the Power Play. We will see what the coaches have planned for us moving forward but I enjoyed that period with these two amazing players!
April 15th – Team Picture and Practice
I was so happy to watch part of the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins on the Internet last night. That was made possible because of the help of our Montreal Stars social network expert Sandra the French lady! And a win by the Canadiens too! Amazing! I should have believed more in our chances to beat the Bruins. Hopefully they keep playing with the same discipline in front of Carey Price who appears to be in complete confidence. This morning came a bit quickly. Always hard to sleep after a late game I find. We had our team picture before practice. Always a special moment for all of us, especially our World Championship rookies Natalie Spooner, Tara Watchorn and Bobbi Jo Slusar.
We practiced this afternoon and it was a great intense practice where we focused on quick close support and moving the puck quickly and efficiently. We battled each other hard. Practice was challenging and exciting and it flew by. I could not believe we were already done but then realized I had sweat a lot and that we all worked very hard. Those are the best ice sessions; when you are not thinking too much on the ice, but just reading, reacting and performing, trying to do your best in every situation. We have our first game of the World Championship tomorrow night against the Host country! I truly hope that the Swiss will come out to watch and give women’s hockey a chance. The tournament organizers have done a great job advertising the tournament. We can see ads everywhere in the city. Now we just have to make sure we give the fans something exciting to watch!