Eight current U.S. collegians and seven U.S. college alumni were among the 27 women selected by Hockey Canada for centralization in preparation for the 2006 Olympics.
Six of the eight current collegians are underclassmen who will have to postpone their NCAA eligibility in their bid to make the Canadian Olympic team. The six are Ohio State sophomore defenseman Tessa Bonhomme, Harvard freshman forward Sarah Vaillancourt, Niagara freshman forward Ashley Riggs, and Dartmouth junior forwards Gillian Apps, Cherie Piper and Katie Weatherston. Minnesota-Duluth forward Caroline Ouellette and Wisconsin defenseman Carla MacLeod were the two seniors selected.
The seven alumni selected for the Canadian centralization are goalie Sami Jo Small (Stanford ’97), defensemen Correne Bredin (Dartmouth ’03) and Becky Kellar (Brown ’97), and forwards Dana Antal (Cornell ’97), Jennifer Botterill (Harvard ’03), Gina Kingsbury (St. Lawrence ’04) and Vicky Sunohara (Northeastern ’89).
The head coach of the Canadian team is Cornell coach Melody Davidson, and Niagara coach Margot Page is one of two assistants. Both coaches will be taking leave from their college programs next season.
The list of 27 players includes 12 members of the 2002 gold-medal winning Canadian Olympic team and all 20 members and the four alternates from the Canadian team that won silver at the 2005 World Women’s Championships. Weatherston, Riggs and Antal were the three players selected to centralize who did not attend Worlds. Both Weatherston and Antal were on the gold-medal winning team for the 2004 Four Nations Cup.
The 27 players will train for a week in Calgary in mid-May before traveling to Prince Edward Island for a three-week camp. The players will resume training in Calgary on a full-time basis beginning on August 1 and play an international schedule of 21 games, including six against the United States. Twenty of the 27 players will be selected for the Olympic roster by January of 2006.