KAMLOOPS - The puck drop for the Women's World Championship in Kamloops is little more than a month away and several players stopped by a local elementary school to help kick off the festivities today.
Pacific Way Elementary School was filled to the brim with red jerseys and hockey talk. The Team Canada lineup was announced by head coach Laura Schuler. Four players were also on hand to talk about their experiences with the team and meet the students.
Forwards Rebbeca Johnston, 26, Natalie Spooner, 25, and Marie-Philip Poulin, 24, and defence Meaghan Mikkelson, 31, answered questions from students and spoke about being part of the team.
“It’s great to have a tournament like this in Canada and have that home ice advantage with the great fans,” Johnston says.
The Women's Worlds won’t be the only spring hockey tournament in the city as provincial junior and western senior competitions will also be coming to the tournament capital.
Mayor Peter Milobar was at today's announcement and says he hopes it will inspire greater interest in women’s hockey.
“We layered in the provincial championships and the western Canadian shield for senior women. There’s going to be a lot of high level of hockey, from grass roots right up,” Milobar says. “The intention was to try to build awareness around the women’s game and build on the legacy that Hockey Canada is working towards.”
The B.C. Hockey Female Provincial Championships will be happening from March 27 to 31. The senior female Western Canadian Shield will be happening from April 1 to 4.
Riley Wiwchar, general manager of the Women’s World Championship, says downtown Kamloops will have an international feel during the tournament with live music and different food and drink establishments taking on the role of a local pub for fans of the teams.
“We have eight hockey houses coming to Victoria Street, each representing a different country. Kamloops Curling Club is Canada house,” Wiwchar says. “There’ll be live music every night with headliners around 10:30 p.m. after the Canada games.”
Other restaurants participating include Noble Pig Brewpub, Carlos O’Bryans and The Commodore Lounge.
“The whole idea is to make this a celebration of women hockey and build that excitement and make it very festival like throughout the city,” Milobar says. “Really create that energy for all those teams, but certainly more for Team Canada.”
The tournament starts March 28, with Switzerland facing Japan in the afternoon. Canada plays the rival USA team that evening. Tickets are on sale now.
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