Friday, February 21, 2014

Nancy Drolet

Nancy Drolet had a storied career, but I always think of the 1997 world championships when I hear her name.

Canada captured their 4th consecutive world title that year, and they can thank Drolet's hat trick heroics in a gritty overtime game vs. the United States.

Drolet scored twice in regulation and then, at 12:59 of OT, scored the 4-3 game winner.

“I didn't want to say to myself, ‘Can I give more?’ after the game,” Drolet explained afterwards. “I just gave all I got, and I got three goals.”

Drolet did it again in 2000. Her slap shot at 6:10 of overtime hit American goalie Sara de Costa in the shoulder and trickled over the line to give Canada a 3-2 victory and their sixth straight world titles.

Drolet, from Drummondville, Quebec, was also a notable softball player who played on Canada's national team in 1990 and 1991. By 1993 she was named as Canada's junior athlete of the year.

Her career with Canada's national women's team last from 1992 through 2000. She won a silver medal at the Nagano Olympics in 1998 and is a six time world champion.

Nowadays Drolet is an orthotherapist and massage therapist in Drummondville.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Women's Hockey Legends

Jennifer Botterill
Cassie Campbell
Delaney Collins
Judy Diduck
Nancy Drolet
Danielle Goyette
Elizabeth Graham

Abby Hoffman
Angela James
Becky Kellar
Gina Kingsbury
Albertine Lapensee
Carla MacLeod
Cherie Piper
Hilda Ranscombe
Manon Rheaume
Bobbie Rosenfeld
France St. Louis
Kim St. Pierre
Colleen Sostorics
Vicky Sunohara
Isobel Stanley
Sarah Vaillancourt

Karyn Bye-Dietz
Cammi Granato
Katie King
Karen Koch
Shelley Looney
Kathryn Waldo

Pia (Grengman) Sterner

Yoko Kondo
Tamae Satsu

Valentina Bettarini

Jessica Lutz

Valentina Bettarini

This is Valentina Bettarini. In 2006 she set Olympic hockey history by representing her native Italy at the Torino games. At the age of 15 years and 228 days she became the youngest hockey player - male or female - to participate in an Olympic hockey tournament.

Though the Italian women's hockey team has not been strong enough to qualify for another Olympics, Ms. Bettarini continues to play for the Italian national team as well as a women's club team in Austria.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Geraldine Heaney

On November 11th, 2013 Geraldine Heaney will become just the third female player inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Heaney will join her long time Canadian teammate Angela James and U.S. forward Cammi Granato, both of whom were enshrined in 2010.

Why it took so long to include another female player is a controversial mystery made all the more maddening by Heaney's obvious credentials.

“As a young girl playing hockey, never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I’d be going in the Hall. It shows you where the women’s game as come and how much further it can go.”

Heaney won gold with Canada at the first seven women’s world hockey championships held starting in 1990. The offensive defenceman, often compared to Scott Niedermayer or even Bobby Orr, was named the tournament’s top defenceman in both 1992 and 1994.

She scored a highlight reel goal for Canada in the final of the inaugural world championship in Ottawa. She split the U.S. defence, avoided the goaltender’s attempted poke check and sailed through the air after slipping the puck into the net.

“That very first world championship and scoring the winning goal is something that I always have a chance to see because they play it on TV quite a bit,” Heaney said.

She took silver when women’s hockey made its Olympic debut in 1998 and won gold four years later in Salt Lake City before retiring.

In 2008 Heaney joined James and Granato as the first female inductees in the IIHF Hall of Fame.

Not bad for a girl born in Belfast, Ireland, eh? Her family emigrated to Canada when she was a toddler and she grew up as a rink rat in the Toronto area.

“It was a male game when I played and going down to the Hall of Fame any time, you never saw in any females in there, so you didn’t think this would ever happen,” Heaney said. “I’m so glad that it has.”

Heaney had 27 goals and 66 assists in 125 career games for Canada. The 45-year-old still holds national team records for the world championship games (35) goals (8), assists (28), and points (36) by a defenceman.

Heaney has remained involved in the game as a coach at the University of Waterloo.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Gina Kingsbury

Gina Kingsbury played forward in two Olympics for Team Canada, winning gold in both 2006 and 2010.

The Saskatchewan-born, Quebec-raised Kingsbury first joined Team Canada in the under-22 division in 1999. She went on to help Canada win gold at the 2001, 2004 and 2007 world championships as well as silver in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

She graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2004 with a degree in psychology. She joined the Montreal Axion of the National Women’s Hockey League before making and committing to the 2006 Olympic team. She decided to advance her career with the national team by moving to Calgary where the team trains. She joined the Calgary Oval X-Treme in non-Olympic years.

In 116 games with the national team she scored 35 goals, 40 assists and 75 points.

The native of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec has since moved to Penticton, British Columbia and is very active with the Okanagan Hockey School.

Becky Kellar

Chasing Olympic and national team dreams is a big sacrifice for most athletes. But for Becky Kellar (now Becky Kellar-Duke), she put her whole life on hold for the Olympics.

Every four years left her husband and home in Burlington, Ontario to move to Calgary for seven months of training. But she did bring her kids, parents and dogs with her.

Kellar played defence for Team Canada in four Olympics, winning three golds and a silver. She was the oldest skater for Team Canada at the Vancouver Olympics, and one of only four women to play for Team Canada to play in each of the first four women's Olympic hockey tournaments.

She was also the first member of Team Canada's women team to become a mom. She has two sons, Owen and Zach.

Being a mother adds balance to her life because she has activities, schedules and responsibilities outside of her hockey career, she told Canadian Living magazine. It also allowed her to give extra focus her on-ice activities.

While winning the gold medal on home ice in Vancouver was a great way to cap her international hockey career, winning gold in 2002 may have offered her the best life lesson.

"In 2002, we lost every game to the U.S. leading into that final game. But as a group and as individuals, we were able to still believe in ourselves, even though a lot of people had given up," she says of the team's first golden victory. "The most important thing for us is to stay confident."

Kellar, who was born in Hagersville, Ontario, starred in both hockey and softball at the Ivy League school Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The psychology major has since been inducted into the school's athletic Hall of Fame.

She has since earned a Masters of Business Administration from Sir Wilfried Laurier University. She retired from the national team though continued to play hockey in Burlington. She is active on the motivational speaking circuit, including teaming with hockey teammate Cheryl Pounder in providing coaching presentations for management professionals.

Colleen Sostorics

Talk about an amazing storybook ending. Colleen Sostorics went from impossible dreams in small town Saskatchewan to striking gold on the biggest stage in the world.

Colleen Sostorics, who grew up in the farming community of Kennedy, Saskatchewan, capped her hockey career with an Olympic gold medal on home ice in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games. The 30 year old then left the game at the very top of her profession.

"Having a chance to step on the ice at GM Place in front of the Canadian fans and get that gold medal with my teammates who had fought so hard all year, that's definitely a highlight of my career," she told the Regina Leader-Post.  "But, looking back at it, there have been so many other highlights that weren't necessarily involving gold medals. I think back to my days of playing minor hockey in Kennedy. When we got to that league final in bantam (she was the captain of the boys team), that was a huge deal, and the first time I ever wore the (Canadian) jersey in 1998 with the under-22 team, and my first chance on the senior team in 2001. There's a lot of milestones that are really important and things that I'll cherish and always remember.

"I couldn't ask for anything more. I don't know if you can top that as an athlete," she added. "I knew I was going to try to make this team and hopefully win a gold medal for Canada. Once that was accomplished it took a few months to think about it and decide. Four years is a long time until the next Olympics and I think that was kind of out of the question. Might as well hang 'em up now and see what's next."

"Of course it was a difficult decision but I know it's the right decision," said Sostorics, who retired as the third-highest scoring defender in Team Canada history. "I've had a really rewarding career. Now I'm just looking forward to what comes next, all the adventures and challenges that will go with the second stage of my life."

Sostorics is a three-time Olympic gold medallist (2002, 2006 and 2010) and a three-time world champion (2001, 2004 and 2007). In 139 games with the Canadian national team the defender scored 13 goals and 53 points.

Sostorics has a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Calgary. She works the motivational speaking scene and returns to help her parents on the family farm. She plans to stay very involved in hockey and sports (she is a notable fastball and rugby player, too), be it as a coach or administrator.

"That's where my passion lies," said Sostorics. "I think we all know, all of us Canadians, this game gets in your blood. You can't ever leave it for good. It's the game I love and it has played such a major role in my life. I want to stay involved in some capacity and give back to a community that has given so much to me."

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