Stunned Canadian players return home after World Women’s Hockey Championships canceled
Shock and disbelief gave way to a whirlwind of emotions as the players of the Canadian women’s hockey team packed their bags in Halifax and returned home on Thursday.
Within two days, they had gone from nervous anticipation of the world championship announcement to standing around the baggage carousels, feeling demoralized.
All systems appeared to be going for the women’s world championship May 6-16 in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, when Premier Iain Rankin pulled the plug on Wednesday over concerns about COVID-19.
Nine other teams are said to have arrived on Thursday to join Canada in a 14-day quarantine before the tournament.
Nova Scotia chief medical officer Robert Strang had given his approval for the tournament a day earlier, which sharpened the sting of the Canadians.
WATCH | The women’s hockey world championships canceled for a second consecutive year:
“We were pretty shocked,” said forward Brianne Jenner of Oakville, Ont. “I know Hockey Canada was shocked because the Surgeon General agreed.
“This sort of thing came out of nowhere for us. We really felt like we had a safe protocol in place.”
The 2020 Women’s Championship in Nova Scotia has also been canceled due to the coronavirus. Canada’s women’s team has played a total of five international games over the past two years.
‘Is this going to happen and when’
The combination of the pandemic and transitioning women’s leagues has kept many from playing real games for over a year.
While the International Ice Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada promise to host the Women’s Championship in Canada this year, when will they play a game that is not an intrasquad is a question that remains unanswered.
“Is that going to happen and when is it of concern to all of us,” Jenner said. “It’s hard to plan ahead. We still dream of competing in a world championship this year.”
Nova Scotia launched tougher travel restrictions on Thursday. The prime minister said the women’s tournament was not essential.
“I am a hockey fan. I’m not happy with the decision, but we need to put public safety first, ”Rankin said.
“I couldn’t imagine asking Nova Scotians to further restrict their lives and make an exception for people to come to Nova Scotia from other countries.”
The 2021 Men’s Under-20 Championship was held in Edmonton, with coronavirus protocols providing the model for Nova Scotia.
Women’s hockey hit more than men’s
This year’s Men’s Under-18 Championship kicks off Monday in Frisco, Texas. The men’s world championship is set to begin in less than a month in Riga, Latvia.
The cancellation of the Women’s Under-18 World Championship in January in Sweden leaves Jenner feeling that, for a myriad of reasons, international women’s hockey is being hit by the pandemic in a way that international men’s hockey is not. ‘is not.
“If you come out of this tournament and look at the fact that we haven’t played a game of the year, I don’t know if there is anyone to blame but if you are a young girl , the result is you’re there are no women’s hockey games this year, ”Jenner said.
“If you are a young boy, you don’t see the same thing.”
Her Hamilton teammate Sarah Nurse has similar feelings.
“Without pointing fingers and blaming, because we can’t really compare our tournament venue to any other tournament, each government has their own guidelines, so I really want to make it clear, but I just feels like it’s very hard not to look at it from a gender perspective because it seems like a bit of a trend, ”Nurse said.
Canada’s roster for last year’s championship was established when that tournament was called off, so Hockey Canada made it public in recognition of the work the women did to build this team.
Head coach Troy Ryan of Spryfield, Nova Scotia and his staff, along with National Women’s Hockey Team Director Gina Kingsbury, were set to start heavy discussions about who would be named in the the Canadian team when the tournament was canceled.
Thursday was going to be a tough day for the released players, but it turned out to be a sad day for everyone.
“It was just like we pulled the rug out from under us,” Nurse said.
Kingsbury said a 2021 list will not be released.
Canada’s 47-player selection camp that ended abruptly and the roster for the world championships that would have been chosen there are key elements in the preparations for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
Hockey Canada has little game data to choose a “centralization” roster of about 30 players who will assemble in Calgary in August and start working for Beijing.
“I don’t think we are currently in a position to know what our next move will be and how we are preparing for Beijing,” Kingsbury said.
“We will work closely as a group and come up with the best possible plan to ensure that we are successful in Beijing and that our athletes are prepared and get the experience and opportunities they deserve here to move forward.
“To be honest, right now we’re just digesting this disappointment.”
The majority of the Canadian team was playing in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League when the CHLF withdrew in the spring of 2019.
These American players and stars have become the faces of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) working to create a league that provides living wages and the competitive support of the men’s leagues.
The US section of the PWHPA has played a few games in the United States in recent weeks, but the Canadians have not due to tighter pandemic restrictions in their country.
So while the NHL, AHL and other professional men’s hockey leagues continue, Canada’s top players remain in limbo.
“In a way, our group feels like our sport is on hold,” Jenner said. “It goes beyond a single tournament. We just had a series of bad luck in women’s hockey.
“There’s a lot of layers in there. I’m still dealing with it and so are my teammates. It would be nice to take a break in the near future.”
For Nova Scotians who hoped to represent Canada at home, the disappointment was acute.
They estimated the tournament could help heal a province in which 22 people were killed in a mass shooting just over a year ago as the pandemic swept the world.
“The only thing we were going to bring to this province was excitement, joy and a little bit of life at a time when I know we all needed it most,” Haligonian forward Jill Saulnier wrote Thursday in a message on social networks.