It’s been a long and intense four months for the Women’s National Team. The majority of the team has been centralized in Belgium competing and training in the Belgium Hockey League. They have also been meeting in Antwerp for three days each week to train as a national side. Their final act of 2018: take on the reigning World Cup bronze medallists, Spain, in four matches on their home soil.
The decision to challenge Spain to four test matches was an intentional one and one that plays two roles according to Team Canada’s head coach, Giles Bonnet.
“We played against Spain before the World Cup and before our Belgium training block,” he said. “…so this is a good opportunity to review the improvements we’ve made and evaluate ourselves against a team that came third at the world cup.”
Veteran Canadian defender Dani Hennig has spent the fall competing with teammates Kaitlyn Williams, Maddie Secco and Hannah Haughn for Royal Victory [Antwerp]. She feels that a competition against a strong international side is a good fit for the Canadian team who is looking to put into practice everything they worked on in their four-month training block.
“Every chance to play is an opportunity to grow,” Hennig said. “It’s important for us to apply what we have learned over the fall and really push for some results.”
Shanlee Johnston, who has been playing for Gantoise in the Belgium Hockey League, agrees with Hennig and thinks the work will show against one of the best teams in the world.
“I think everyone is excited to see what these past 10 weeks have done for our game,” she said. “We’ve been working hard, and I think it will show in the upcoming games. It’s time to put our technical growth into action against a top tier team.”
The current makeup of the Women’s National Squad is a blend of newer players and a veteran core. Players like Kate Wright, Dani Hennig, Hannah Haughn and Sara McManus all have over 150 caps to their name with a few others approaching that milestone. On the flipside they also have a handful below 50 caps and some who have just eclipsed that mark.
This week in Spain, three players will reach major cap milestones. Brie Stairs will join the 150 club and become only the ninth Canadian woman to reach that mark. Nikki Woodcroft will play her 50th cap and Wright will reach 200 senior international caps.
Currently sitting at 196, with all going well, Wright will reach the 200-cap milestone in Canada’s final tilt against Spain. This milestone is particularly incredible as Wright becomes the first Canadian woman to reach the 200-cap threshold. Notably, after two matches Dani Hennig will slide past Canadian legend Steph Jameson and into second all-time behind Wright.
Kate Wright (left), Nikki Woodcroft (centre) and Brie Stairs (right) will all reach cap milestones during the Spain test series.
|PLAYER NAME||CURRENT CLUB||CAPS|
|Alexis De Armond||White Star||12|
This story is Part II of a three-part series recapping the Women’s National Team’s fall training block. Check out PART I for more information about the Canadian players’ involvement in the Belgium Hockey League and stay tuned for PART III recapping their Spanish test series.