Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Fresh off U.S. Series, Decision Time Coming for Canada's Women's Hockey Team

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Fresh off U.S. Series, Decision Time Coming for Canada's Women's Hockey Team

Article excerpt

Decision time coming for women's hockey team

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EDMONTON - Laura Schuler remembers how anxious she felt before her meeting with coach Shannon Miller to learn if she had made Canada's first Olympic women's hockey team.

"The set-up is similar to what they do now where you're down to your final selections and the core of the team that is still remaining gets individually brought into a room one by one and you're there with the head coach and two assistants," Schuler said. "Obviously then your fate is determined.

"I remember being very nervous before walking in the room."

Schuler received happy news on that day two decades ago as she and the Canadian team went onto win silver at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. She also knows what it feels like to not make the cut as she was left off the 1994 world championship team.

The first former player to coach the Olympic team, the 47-year-old from Toronto is now the one making those decisions of joy and heartbreak ahead of February's Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Twenty-eight women were summoned to try out for the team attempting to defend the gold won in an overtime thriller against the U.S. in 2014.

After a gruelling boot camp in June, the women congregated in Calgary in August to begin full-time preparation for Pyeongchang.

Schuler, assistants Dwayne Gylywoychuk of Winnipeg and Troy Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., and general manager Melody Davidson of Oyen, Alta., have been scrutinizing players in practices and games.

Forward Amy Potomak of Aldergrove, B.C. and defender Erin Ambrose of Keswick, Ont., were released Nov. 20.

Three more skaters will be cut to get to the roster of three goaltenders and 20 skaters, compared to the previous limit of three and 18 in 2014.

Goaltenders Shannon Szabados of Edmonton, Genevieve Lacasse of Kingston, Ont., and Ann-Renee Desbiens of Malbaie, Que., will be Canada's three goalies in Pyeongchang. They're competing for coveted starts.

Having experienced both acceptance and rejection, Schuler says there is no way to make what will be painful for some players less painful.

"No, absolutely not," she said. "Obviously we had to let go of two players there and it was one of the hardest things we had to do as a staff and as a team because they become a part of your family. …

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