Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jayna Hefford

Jayna Hefford's international hockey career has come to an end. The Hockey Hall of Fame will be calling soon.

The Kingston, Ontario had been with the Canadian National Women's Team since the 1997 World Championships. She retires as second all-time in Team Canada history in games played (267), goals (157), and points (291).

Hefford is a four-time Olympic gold medallist - 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, with a silver medal added in 1998. In 2002, Hefford famously scored the game-winning goal with two seconds remaining in Canada’s victory against the United States in Salt Lake City.

Hefford is also a seven-time world champion (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2012) and five-time silver medallist (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013) at the World Championships.

She also was 12 time gold medallist at the 3 Nations/4 Nations Cup, winning 5 silver medals there as well.

“Jayna’s accomplishments on the ice speak for themselves, but it is her off-ice contributions to the game and leadership that I admire,” said Melody Davidson, general manager of national women’s team programs, Hockey Canada. “I want to thank Jayna for the leadership she has shown as a veteran and mentor to our younger players, and to the larger hockey community in Canada and around the world.”

Hefford was a tremendous skater, both in terms of speed and balance. But it was her desire to always be better that made her a legend.

"A few years before Vancouver, I decided if I was going to stick in it into my 30s, my mid 30s, I knew I had to get better," said Hefford, only one of five athletes in the world to win gold at four consecutive Olympics. "It wasn't good enough to be there just because I had gotten that far already. I probably had some of my most successful years in the latter part of my career which is something I'm proud of. I saw the results of that hard work."

The new retiree Hefford is a new mom.

"Once you become a parent, it's no longer about you. When I'm reflecting about retirement, I'm thinking a lot more about what my parents did for me growing up and all the selflessness and the sacrifice. I guess I'm more appreciative of what they did to help me live out the dream."

Gillian Apps

The announcement that Gillian Apps was retiring from Canada's National Women's team, so ended one of hockey's great family lines - for now.

Gillian's father was Syl Apps Jr., who played over 700 games in a decade long career back in the 1970s.  And her grandfather was Syl Apps Sr., the Hockey Hall of Famer who is arguably the greatest player in Toronto Maple Leafs player. He was also an Olympic pole vaulter in 1936.

Apps may find herself in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day, too. Check out this resume:
  • Three time Olympic gold medallist (2006, 2010 and 2014). She scored 10 goals and 21 points at the Olympics, including 7 goals and 14 points in 2006 when she was an All Star.
  • Three time World Champion gold medallist (2004, 2007, 2012) as well as five-time silver medallist (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013).
  • 164 games played with the national team, scoring 50 goals and 50 assists.
  • Eight gold medals at the Four Nations Cup (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2013)
“I’m so proud to have worn the maple leaf alongside my teammates; we became like a family and those friendships are ones that I will cherish forever,” said Apps. “I have learned so much about myself through sport and my time with Canada’s National Women’s Team has taught me about strength, balance, perseverance, character, and support. I feel very grateful to have gone through so much being part of such an amazing program.”

Apps also starred at Dartmouth College where she earned a degree in psychology.

“Those were probably the best four years of my life,” Apps said. “Being a student athlete at Dartmouth was an incredible experience.”

She loves teaching young girls the game of hockey.

“I hope our success as a national team at the Olympics has inspired young girls across the country. They have some great opportunities. When I was their age, there were only boys’ hockey camps. So I didn’t attend camps, except for one I participated in with the boys.”

Catherine Ward

Catherine Ward's hockey dream was to be a part of Team Canada and winning gold medals at the Olympics. But hockey gave her much more than the ultimate bling.

“Hockey has taught me so much and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it; it has shaped me for the better.," she said.

Ward debuted with Canada’s National Women’s Program in 2006 as a member of Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team and finished her as career as a two-time Olympic gold medallist, in 2010 and 2014.

The Montreal native first captured a gold medal with Canada at the World Championships in 2012 and added three silvers medals in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Ward also won a pair of gold medals at the 4 Nations Cup (2009, 2013) and two silver medals (2008, 2012).

In 77 games with Canada’s National Women’s Team the defender accumulated seven goals and 36 assists for 43 points.

“I dreamed of being part of Team Canada from a young age and I feel very privileged to have had the chance to be part of it,” said Ward. “From the drive and discipline it takes to achieve your goals, to the friendships I’ve made along the way, hockey has shaped me into who I am today. It taught me how to be a leader and how to make others around me better and I’m fortunate to now combine my two passions, hockey and business into one.”

Ward has been working as an assistant product manager with Reebok-CCM hockey for the past year and will continue to manage the development of hockey sticks with the company.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Angela Ruggiero

There was a time not so long ago that it would have seemed impossible that the Hockey Hall of Fame would ever enshrine someone who was born in sunny California.

And you certainly never would have guessed that player would be a woman.

But in the year 2015 that is exactly what happened, as the Hockey Hall of Fame welcomes Angela Ruggiero to hockey's highest honour.

Ruggiero took to the game early, and it was obvious she had real potential. Her brother really enjoyed the game, too. So the whole family moved to Michigan in 1996. The move was actually more to benefit her brother's career. It resulted in the kid sister having one of the most successful careers in hockey history.

"I grew up loving hockey and my family loves hockey," said Ruggiero "Fortunately, I found hockey at a very young age when I was 7 when there wasn't a lot of it in the state of California. … My family moved to Michigan in 1996 for my brother's hockey. My brother and I would train in the summertime. We'd go to different rinks, wherever we could find ice and join summer leagues. Because hockey was so popular in Detroit relative to California, I think I really benefitted."

She certainly did. She was a key member of the United States women's team that won the gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. She was just 18, still in prep school, and competing at the Olympics. She was well on her way to becoming the most dominant defender in the women's game, and arguably the top female player in the world.

"I was able to compete in my first [Olympic] team in 1998 and just loved the 15 years I got to spend with USA Hockey," she said. "I grew as a person, I learned so many things through hockey, and can't say enough about the opportunity I had because I wore that sweater for so long."

Ruggiero's accomplishments include four Olympic medals ­­ silver medals in the 2002 and 2010 Olympics and a bronze in 2006. She also won four gold medals at the World Championships, including in 2005 when she scored the game winning goal in the dramatic shootout.

"I feel so blessed to have grown up at the right moment. When I started playing, there were no girls in the state, no Olympics," Ruggiero said. "I didn't even know women's hockey existed at the collegiate level being from California, so I could have never imagined that I'd get to do all the things I got to do in hockey.

"But am very cognizant that if I had been born 10 years prior, I may not have had all these wonderful opportunities in life."

Ruggiero also played at Harvard (she graduated cum laude with a degree in government) and won the national championship in 1999. Her 96 goals and 253 points in her college career are a school record for defensemen.

In 2005 she joined her brother Bill for one game with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League. In doing so she became the first female skater (not including goalies) to compete in a men's professional hockey league in North America.

Hockey has opened all sorts of opportunities for Ruggiero.

"The last few months have been amazing. … It's been a whirlwind," she said. "You start playing hockey as a kid because you love the sport … so all this stuff is sort of icing. I didn't start playing hockey so I could be in the Hall of Fame and now the USA Hockey Hall of Fame. It's just a tremendous, tremendous honor."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Women's Hockey Legends

Meghan Agosta
Gillian Apps
Tessa Bonhomme
Jennifer Botterill
Cassie Campbell
Delaney Collins
Judy Diduck
Nancy Drolet
Danielle Goyette
Elizabeth Graham

Jayna Hefford
Abby Hoffman
Angela James
Becky Kellar
Gina Kingsbury
Albertine Lapensee
Carla MacLeod
Cherie Piper
Hilda Ranscombe
Manon Rheaume
Bobbie Rosenfeld
France St. Louis
Kim St. Pierre
Colleen Sostorics
Vicky Sunohara
Isobel Stanley
Sarah Vaillancourt
Catherine Ward

Karyn Bye-Dietz
Cammi Granato
Katie King
Karen Koch
Shelley Looney
Angela Ruggiero
Kathryn Waldo

Pia (Grengman) Sterner

Yoko Kondo
Tamae Satsu

Valentina Bettarini

Jessica Lutz

Meghan Agosta

Meghan Agosta isn't hanging up her skates just yet. But she is pausing her hockey career and getting her next career started.

Normally Agosta, a three time Olympic gold medal champion, would be with her Team Canada teammates as training camp opens. Instead she is at the Justice Institute of British Columbia training to become a police officer.

“I’ve only had two passions in my life and that’s policing and hockey,” Agosta told The Canadian Press from Vancouver. “To be able to fulfill both dreams is pretty amazing.”

Agosta was Canada’s top scorer at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., with nine goals and six assists in five games. She was named the most valuable player of the women’s hockey tournament.

She’s represented Canada in women’s hockey for a decade. Agosta celebrated her 19th birthday with a hat trick against Russia at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

In 2014 she helped Canada win gold in Sochi, Russia, coming from behind by two goals down to beat the United States in overtime.

Agosta says she is not retiring and wants to play in a fourth Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.

Tessa Bonhomme

Tessa Bonhomme was a quietly solid defenseman for a decade with Canada's national women's team. Off the ice she was vibrant personality, full of life. It is little surprise that she has left the game to pursue opportunities in television.

Bonhomme made her international debut at the 2004 Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., and finished her career with 51 points (10 goals, 41 assists) in 107 games. She is the fifth-highest-scoring defenceman in the history of Canada’s senior women’s team.

The native of Sudbury, Ontario won gold with Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and at the IIHF World Women’s Championship in 2007 and 2012. She assisted on Caroline Ouellette’s overtime winner in the 2012 gold-medal game.

Bonhomme also won silver at the world championship in 2009, 2011 and 2013. She participated in the Four Nations Cup on eight occasions, winning six gold medals (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013) and two silver (2008, 2012).

“On behalf of Hockey Canada and Canadian hockey fans everywhere, I want to thank Tessa for what she did not only in bringing Canada success on the ice, but what she did to grow the women’s game off it,” Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, said in a statement. “She will continue to be a tremendous ambassador for the sport, and I have no doubt she will find success wherever her career leads her.”

Bonhomme, who also had a legendary NCAA with the Ohio State Buckeyes, will continue her broadcasting career with TSN as a full-time host and reporter. She will also contribute to the network’s coverage of Hockey Canada events. She also competed in reality shows Wipeout Canada and Battle of the Blades, winning the hockey turned figure skating competition with partner David Pelletier.

Did you know Tessa's uncle Tim Bonhomme has been a keyboardist with the Beach Boys since 1997?

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