As part of TSN's coverage of the IIHF World Women's Hockey Championship in Ottawa, members of Canada's National Women's Team are blogging their experiences throughout the tournament on TSN.ca. In this edition, forward Natalie Spooner and blueliners Courtney Birchard and Catherine Ward share their experience of learning from soldiers stationed at CFB Petawawa.
Our journey began when the team arrived on Monday, March 25, and with no time to spare after our arrival, we jumped right on the ice for our first practice.
Little did we know at that the time that the next six days would be a lot of fun, but very challenging!
The first practice was high intensity, and everyone was pretty excited to be back on the ice as a team. After playing against a lot of these players all season in leagues such as the Canadian Women's Hockey League, it was great to finally be playing with them and not against them on the ice.
We then practised some more, with another two hours of ice at the Sensplex in Kanata on Tuesday, March 26, before bussing to CFB Petawawa.
Pitch Perfect on the bus passed the time, and when we got to the army base we settled into the barracks quickly, and then headed for our second practice of the day, this time at Silver Dart Arena.
Off the ice, we were also able to have some memorable experiences on the base. For most of us, having never held a gun, we actually got the chance to shoot one! It was a lot tougher to hit targets than it looks.
We also got to go inside an army tank. I'm not sure who had more fun - the players or the staff. We ended with a big team game of Call of Duty, and our bus driver, Will, was a total pro.
During our pre-competition camp, we also had two exhibition games. The first game was Thursday, March 28, against the Gatineau Junior B Mustangs, and many military families living in Petawawa came out to watch, which was great to see. We played this game on the base and won 3-1! It was a great first game for our team, and also a great chance to build some chemistry.
For our second game, we travelled to Pembroke play team Sweden on Saturday, March 30. It was a sold-out crowd at Pembroke Memorial Centre, and it was a great atmosphere in the rink. We started off the game a little slow, but picked it up as the game progressed, and we won 8-0!
It was a great privilege to be at CFB Petawawa, and meet some great soldiers that do so much for our country. While we were there, we realized we have a lot in common with these soldiers. They battle day in and day out for our country, and we are about to in this tournament.
"Heroes," which is our slogan for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship, not only represents these brave soldiers, but also the many women on Canada's National Women's Team that have come before us, and paved the way for women's hockey.