Calgary hosts ‘bubble’ camp for Canadian women’s hockey team

Canada's Emerance Maschmeyer (30) shakes hands with fans before the start of the IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship preliminary round game against Finland, in Plymouth, Mich., on Saturday, April 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Kryk. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Kryk

The Canadian women’s hockey team has opened a 35-player camp in a Calgary “bubble.”

The 14-day camp is the first physical gathering of national-team players in months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hockey Canada invited 47 players to Calgary, but 12 won’t participate because of school commitments “and other reasons,” the organization said Monday in a statement.

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Captain Marie-Philip Poulin, veteran forwards Natalie Spooner, Brianne Jenner and Laura Stacey and defenders Laura Fortino and Laurianne Rougeau were among the 35 who arrived Sunday in Calgary.

Forwards Rebecca Johnston and Sarah Nurse were among the dozen who didn’t.

National team players have skated and trained this winter in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary hubs with access to Hockey Canada skills coaches.

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“We recognize it has been a challenge for our players, coaches and support staff, but we have made tremendous gains through our resiliency and strength,” said Gina Kingsbury, director of women’s national teams with Hockey Canada.

“We stress to our athletes about controlling what they can, and that has been shown in their individual work, off-ice training, weekly ice sessions and staying committed through our virtual connections.”

Hockey Canada received clearance from the Alberta government to hold the camp, which is closed to the public.

“We are able to hold our camp in a safe and secure bubble,” Kingsbury said.

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The 2020 women’s world hockey championship in Halifax and Truro, N.S., was postponed to April 7-17, 2021 because of the pandemic.

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Twenty-two players named to the 2020 world roster were invited to camp, as well as 18 veterans of the squad that won an Olympic silver medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.

Seven games against the U.S., including a five-game Rivalry Series, has been Canada’s only international competition since finishing third in the 2019 world championship in Finland.

The 2019 Four Nations Cup in Sweden was cancelled because of a dispute between the host team and its federation.

Troy Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., returns as Canada’s head coach for a second year. Doug Derraugh, Kori Cheverie, former national-team player Vicky Sunohara and goalie coach Brad Kirkwood are his assistants.

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The reigning Olympic and world champion United States held an evaluation camp Oct. 25-31 in Blaine, Minn.

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