Team Alberta’s hockey women were feeling the excitement — and the nerves — as they got ready on Sunday to start their quest for gold.
“It’s such a journey. It’s almost surreal that we’re going to play our first game here tonight against B.C.,” said coach Carla MacLeod. The Pool B preliminary round game took place Sunday night in the Enmax Centrium.
“There’s certainly an excited energy among the group,” said MacLeod, who is from Calgary.
“At the end of the day, we’ve just got to get the puck dropped and get the jitters out and start playing.”
Team captain Danielle Serdachny is one of six returning players from the U18 2017 Nationals Team.
“There’s definitely a lot of nerves but everyone is really excited,” said the Edmonton centre.
“It’s a super cool opportunity to be able to play in our home province, so I think it’s going to be really good.”
Serdachny is expecting an intense tournament.
“It’ll be tough because we’re playing against the best players in Canada. But I think we have a really great group and we’re excited for our potential.”
“A lot of people have said it’s the closest thing to the Olympics so I think it will be a really great experience.
While every team has gold medal dreams, part of the challenge is understanding the journey it will take to get there, said MacLeod.
“It might not be the most linear path and, for sure, you’re going to face adversity along the way and setbacks.
“So it’s just understanding as a group how do you manage them, how do you gain momentum and opportunities from every experience.”
The team has three women who played on the gold medal U-18 world championships in Japan last month and other returning players to add depth and a group of newcomers ready to show what they can do.
“We have been just making sure that we are a team,” said the coach of the group that includes players from 13 different hockey associations. “Every coach dreams of that, every coach works for that.
“At the end of the day sometimes you need a little sprinkle of luck and everyone on the same page.”
One thing fans can be sure of, the home province team will have grit.
“I think whenever you’re Alberta-built, there’s an undercurrent of work effort there,” she said. “It’s sort of innate within our province and the athletes who have come from our province.”