Canada secures two wins and two draws with the world number 7 to cap off a successful 2018
Since their historic fifth-place finish at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Canadian Women’s National Team has continued to drive forward, playing over 25 international games, many of which against top European teams. Their fall training block in Belgium culminated with a four-game series win over 7th world-ranked Spain featuring two wins and two draws.
The team played against the experienced Spanish side in July prior to Spain’s bronze medal run at the Women’s Hockey World Cup and according to Canadian Head Coach Giles Bonnet, Team Canada had made noticeable improvements since the summer.
“Our performance and process goals were far better,” he said. “Our statistics also improved in both offensive plays and defensive moments. This was good to see and nice for the players to be able to reward themselves in this way.”
Rachel Donohoe and Brienne Stairs both notches two goals in the series win over Spain. Stairs reached the incredible 150 cap-milestone in the second game of the series, making her only the ninth player to do so. Donohoe, who went down injured in the Commonwealth Games has been playing on Gantoise this fall in the Belgian Hockey League. She said the training in the competitive European environment showed, because they were ready to compete against a top-10 team like Spain.
“The 10-week training block, with a specific technical focus, was visible on the pitch in Spain,” she said. “This evident increase in technical ability and team awareness, reassured us and gives us confidence going forward.”
Captain Kate Wright played her record setting 169th cap last year at the Pan American Cup, making her the most capped woman in Canadian history. She continues to add to her incredible total by reaching the 200-mark last week in Spain. For her, the cap total is special but it’s the program and her teammates that continue to drive her.
“I am honoured and humbled to be the first woman in Canadian hockey history to reach 200 caps. It has been quite the journey to get to this milestone,” she said. “My teammates inspire me and push me every day to be the best player that I can be. It is an exiting time for the Women’s National Team as many players are reaching major milestones. It shows we are growing and gaining experience together.”
She said the team is using the momentum from the Spain tour and the successful 2018 results to vault them into 2019.
“We need to keep fighting for the result in every moment of every game. We have been training hard and have left Canada to play abroad to make sure we are doing everything in our power to be prepared for qualification,” Wright said. “We are finally getting a taste of what it is like to get on the scoreboard and to win. We need to keep this momentum going into 2019 where it really counts.”
The message was clear from the Women’s National Team. The Spain series win was not as much of an end to 2018 as it was a beginning to 2019 and the great things to come from this program.