The Women’s World Hockey Championship (WWHC) was supposed to take place in early May, in Nova Scotia, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was bumped back to August and this time it was out west in Calgary.
However, the important thing for players and staff is that it wasn’t cancelled, especially for two officials from Saskatchewan.
“Even when it was first announced that it was happening, it was just announced that it was in Calgary with no dates,” WWHC official Cianna Lieffers said.
“Then the dates came out, and then we got confirmation of our assignments again so slowly the pieces came together.”
“It was kind of expected that they make it happen in a certain time frame in order to have teams qualify for the Olympics essentially,” added WWHC linesperson Alexandra Clarke. “And I was happy to get the assignment again.
“There is always the worry that you won’t get the assignment, because you are not guaranteed the same assignments.”
For Leiffers, from Saskatoon, and Clarke, from Weyburn, there was a challenge to stay in game mode from May to the new date for the championship in August.
“I found with the NHL season that was on, I was watching the plays and the penalties and the officials there and just trying to keep my mind in game mode,” Lieffers said. “And recognizing those calls and non-calls and trying to anticipate what is coming next.”
To have this experience is a huge step up the ladder for both these women, but it also improves their chances at taking their officiating career towards their ultimate goal: the Olympics.
“That’s my goal. To work at the 2022 Beijing Olympics,” Clarke said. “And if I didn’t get this, it doesn’t give me the opportunity to showcase my abilities to get selected, and also then I don’t have the higher calibre tournaments to have the confidence in me to perform at that level.”
“Just getting selected for the first one last year, even though it didn’t go ahead, but to be selected for this one twice and to keep that selection and being able to be on the ice is going to be a huge step,” Lieffers added.
“Its all part of achieving that end goal of working at the Olympics.”