The NWHL is proud to supply the majority of Canada’s National Olympic team for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Of the 21 players selected for the Winter Olympics 12 are playing or have played in the NWHL. Two of the three goaltenders are from the NWHL, specifically Sami-Jo Small of the Brampton Thunder and Charline Labonte of the Montreal Wingstar. Sami-Jo is the 1st and only goaltender to ever score a goal in the NWHL as she scored against the Ste.-Julie Pantheres 2 seasons ago. On Defense 4 out of the 6 defensemen are from NWHL teams.
Most notably, the Beatrice Aeros are contributing 3 of those 4 defensemen; Becky Kellar, Cheryl Pounder and last seasons “Championship Cup” MVP Geraldine Heaney. The fourth defenseman on the list is the legendary Therese Brisson of the Mississauga Ice Bears, Therese has represented Canada 95 times in her fabulous career. To round out the team we have 6 of the 12 forwards representing Canada. The Brampton Thunder are contributing 1/2 of the NWHL forward unit with NWHL stars Vicki Sunohara, Lori Dupuis and Jayna Hefford leading the way. Nancy Drolet of the Vancouver Griffins, Caroline Ouellette of the Montreal Wingstar and former Beatrice Aero Cassie Campbell fill out the forward unit. The NWHL is looking forward to assisting Canada to their 1st Olympic gold medal after winning Silver in ’98.
With the NWHL being the Elite level of Women’s hockey in North America, the NWHL is a breeding ground for the Olympic movement as little girls are joining hockey teams and coming out to see their heroes in the NWHL. At this point we have 12 of the 21 players from our league, but after the Olympics are over who knows how many more we will have next season.
Special congratulations should go to Cherie Piper, Gillian Apps, Amanda Benoit-Wark and Nathalie Rivard who represented themselves and the league proud on being in the running for the Olympic team right up until the end. We are extremely proud of you. On the International side of things, 3 NWHL players were still listed as being on their National teams; Maren Valenti formerly of Ste.-Julie and Tina Evers of TELUS were still listed on the German team and Sue Merz formerly of the Brampton Thunder was still on Team U.S.A., congratulations to those players as well. It has also been announced that NWHL officials; Julie Bissonette, Jacqui Palm and Sue Cassidy have been chosen as Officials for the Olympic Games as well. Congratulations on being chosen and showing the World that the NWHL have World Class Officiating as well.