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Golden duo leads defence of women's title in Ottawa

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Dan Church and Danielle Goyette have been named Hockey Canada's coaches for the 2013 IIHF world women's hockey championship, to be held April 2-9 at Scotiabank Place and the Nepean Sportsplex.

They've got the golden touch.

Not wanting to mess with a winning formula, Hockey Canada today named Dan Church its head coach for the 2013 IIHF world women's hockey championship, to be held April 2-9 at Scotiabank Place and the Nepean Sportsplex. Two-time Olympic gold medallist Danielle Goyette, who directed the Calgary Dinosaurs to their first Canadian university women's crown in 2012, will be his assistant.

It's the same combination that directed Canada to a gold-medal triumph earlier this year at the 2012 worlds in Burlington, Vt. The Canucks edged the United States 5-4 in an overtime thriller in the championship game, ending a three-year title run for the Americans.

Church and Goyette have also been tabbed to guide the Canadian women's squad at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

"We are very excited than Dan and Danielle are returning to the Team Canada bench for the next two years," Scott Smith, Hockey Canada's CEO, said during a news conference held at Scotiabank Place to unveil the coaching staff. "This is an opportunity that is truly well deserved."

Church, the coach of the women's hockey program at York University for the last nine years, didn't deny today's announcement was a reward of sorts for the result in Burlington.

"I don't think winning the gold hurt my chances," he said with a smile. "I do think it is a reward. There are a lot of great players in our country and there's a lot of great coaches in our country. Danielle and I worked hard for this opportunity and it's going to be a tremendous honour to represent Canada ... it's a tremendous opportunity."

For Senators Sports and Entertainment — which are co-hosts for the 2013 worlds along with the Ontario Women's Hockey Association — it's a chance to put their venue and their city on the international stage again. The 2009 world juniors, held at SBP and the Ottawa Civic Centre, shattered all existing attendance records at the time and they're thinking big again.

"We're hoping, at the end of the day, to have over 200,000 people attend the 21 games," said Senators president Cyril Leeder, the vice-chair of the host organizing committee. "We think it's an ambitious goal — it would be the highest ever — but we think Ottawa fans and the community here will support this (tournament).

"That doesn't include a sellout of every game, but we certainly hope for big crowds for the Team Canada games. There are six doubleheaders here and it's likely Team Canada will play in five of those. We're hopeful of a number of sellouts along the way, but it's probably not realistic that we'll sell every single ticket."

Added Church: "The passion that Ottawa has for hockey is phenomenal and I'm truly looking forward to the opportunity to be in this building next year. It will be just an amazing experience and an amazing atmosphere."

Ticket packages at Scotiabank start at $184 for 12 games (six doubleheaders).

Also being held in conjunction with the 2013 women's worlds is the OWHA's annual provincial championships, making it a true festival of the female game.

"The two together will represent the largest assembly of women's hockey ever staged on this planet," said Leeder. "So we're looking forward to a great celebration of women's hockey next April."

Next up for the 2013 women's worlds is the unveiling of the tournament schedule, which Leeder said organizers are hopeful will be released "in another few weeks." Under a new format first employed in Burlington, the top four teams from the previous year's event will form Pool A. In Ottawa, that means Canada, the U.S., bronze-medallist Switzerland and Finland are slated to be based at Scotiabank Place.

About 800 volunteers are needed locally for the tournament, with about 300 having signed up so far. Volunteers are being asked to contribute a minimum of 24 hours of their time over the course of the event.

"It's a major commitment," admitted Leeder. "But we know Ottawa is a community that gives and enjoys getting involved with these events, and we know we'll have a full complement of volunteers."

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