VANCOUVER — For Hayley Wickenheiser, the chance to celebrate her gold medal from the 2014 Sochi Olympics with a packed house at the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at BC Place in Vancouver felt like coming home.
After winning a gold medal across the street at Rogers Arena at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Wickenheiser said she was looking forward to the sharing another win with the huge crowd.
"I really wanted to come here because we had so much support four years ago and to come back with another gold and share it with this many people, it's kind of a full-circle moment," Wickenheiser said.
Canada clinched its fourth straight gold medal with a 3-2 overtime win against the United States on Feb. 20, scoring twice in the final 3:26 of regulation to tie the game and 8:10 into overtime to win it. Wickenheiser and her teammates have been celebrating ever since.
"Coast to coast it has been awesome," Wickenheiser said. "It was obviously a very emotional win, an exciting win, and Canadians really appreciate what our team did over there."
Senators fans Phil Ross and Ashley Murray appreciated the win. They traveled from Ottawa to watch the Heritage Classic and were just as excited about meeting Wickenheiser and her teammates during an autograph session at the Molson Beer Garden inside the Canadian Tire NHL Spectator Plaza across the street from BC Place.
"I just shook hands with the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey," Murray said. "I am shaking I am so excited."
"They are national heroes," Ross said. "This is surreal."
That's how goaltender Shannon Szabados expected to feel when the team was honored in front of a packed house at BC Place.
"I am excited to see what it looks like and have a minute to enjoy it. We've had a lot of support and we're just trying to take it all in right now," she said. "It's been an insane week, not a lot of sleep, but a lot of fun."