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'Hard to put in words': Canadian women's hockey team finally back on ice

Last Updated Jan 22, 2021 at 1:02 pm MST

Gina Kingsbury celebrates with the flag after winning the gold medal ice hockey game against Team USA at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Thursday Feb. 25, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — It’s been a whirlwind year for everyone, including the Canadian women’s hockey team.

After a nearly 10-month hiatus and the cancellation of the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Nova Scotia, players are finally together again, hitting the ice at Calgary’s WinSport for a closed bubble training camp.

“It’s hard to put in words, to be honest,” Hockey Canada director of women’s national teams Gina Kingsbury explained. “We’re extremely excited and grateful that we have this opportunity here. Alberta Health has helped us create the protocols we needed to be able to execute a camp and safe camp. Our athletes are extremely excited and grateful.

“You can tell in the energy of the group, just being back together and continuing our journey toward Halifax and Beijing is so important. It’s a bit of a relief and a lot of excitement.”

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Of the 47 players called in, 35 are in town.

“The majority of our college players actually remain in college,” Kingsbury said. “It was difficult bringing them from the U.S. We’ve got mainly our senior athletes that are from all three hubs: Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary.

“Mainly, all of our veterans and the players everyone is familiar with, and we will hopefully have more camps to come where we’ll be evaluate the entire pool of athletes that we’re looking at.”

AUDIO: 660’s Sandra Prusina catches up with Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada director of women’s national teams

And the players not making it to Calgary will still be able to take part thanks to all of the virtual goodies we’ve all become so accustomed to during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The only part that really isn’t virtual is the ice session,” she offered. “All of our hockey talks, our coaching sessions, mental performances sessions — all of that is on Zoom. Everyone can join from wherever they are. Obviously, we record them and make sure to distribute them if you can’t make those sessions. That’s the beauty of it — everyone can stay connected even though they’re not here.”

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After being cancelled a year ago, Halifax and Truro are still in line to host this year’s worlds.

According to Kingsbury, everything appears to be on track for the tournament.

“I know they’re in discussions right now on what that’s going to look like and the dates to make sure it’s a-go,” Kingsbury said of the IIHF. “I know Hockey Canada’s been working very hard at making sure everything is in place to get everything approved. We’re patiently waiting to see what it looks like.

“We’re confident we’ll be about to host the world championship here this year.”