|Catherine Ward of Montreal talks about the upcoming Team Canada women's hockey selection camp in Ottawa, being held in advance of the 2012 world championship in Vermont. Looking on is Jayna Hefford, a three-time Olympic gold medallist from Kingston, also among the 29 players invited to the camp, which runs from March 26-April 1 (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
It's a city with a well-earned reputation as a "great friend" of women's hockey.
No wonder, then, that Kingston native Jayna Hefford positively beams about the thought of her game and her team taking centre stage once again in the nation's capital.
"Ottawa has always been great for the women's game in supporting it," Hefford, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, said with an eye toward the 2013 World Women's Hockey Championship, set for April 2-9 at Scotiabank Place. "Any time we play here, it's very exciting ... I know Ottawa will put on an amazing world championship in 2013."
But before then, there's another women's worlds to be played — the 2012 championship is set for April 7-14 in Burlington, Vt. And Hockey Canada will take the opportunity to lean on Ottawa once again, holding its team selection champ from March 26-April 1 at Carleton University and the Ottawa Civic Centre.
One might also suggest the camp will serve as quite the table setter for the 2013 worlds. It's certainly a thought that was front and centre in Hockey Canada's mind when it chose to make final preparations for this year's world women's worlds in Ottawa.
"What we've always tried to do, when we host a large event, is have activities in the host communities," said Hockey Canada COO Scott Smith, noting the example of Team Canada's summer evaluation being held at the University of Ottawa in advance of the 2009 world juniors here in the capital. "This also lined up well (geographically) with Burlington, Vt.
"We thought this was a great opportunity to connect the two events and give them some additional exposure."
Smith believes the selection camp will help generate excitement for the 2013 worlds. It includes a pre-tournament game between Canada and defending champion Team USA on March 31 at the Civic Centre.
"It's growing and it'll continue to grow," he said. "It'll be significant in the next (several) weeks as we go toward Burlington, especially with the game here on March 31. We've changed our format in the last few years, where we do have a selection camp. We don't simply name the players, so there's a competitive side of this that I think will build the momentum as well."
The 34-year-old Hefford is a 10-time world championship medallist, including six golds. She'd like to make that seven heading into a tournament to be played in a city Hefford says "is kind of a hometown for me."
"Our favourite place to play is in Canada, so I always look forward to that opportunity," she said. 'It's long road before (the 2013 worlds) and we want to get prepared for the world championship this year and take a gold there, then come back (to Ottawa) to defend it."
Full tournament ticket packages for the 2013 women's worlds are currently on sale through Hockey Canada (www.hockeycanada.ca/2013Ottawa
) and include a free lower bowl ticket to the March 31 game at the Civic Centre. Individual tickets to that contest start at $19.50, plus applicable fees.