The University of Calgary women's hockey team finished the first half of their season with a 3-6 loss in an exhibition game against a skilled Russian team. The pace of the game was back and forth, with each team trading chances and playing an open style of hockey fit for the international game. The game was the second one in a two-game series -- the Dinos beat Russia 5-3 on Nov. 24.
So far in the season, the Dinos are sitting in third place in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport conference with a respectable 9-3 record, trailing close behind the University of Lethbridge and University of Saskatchewan.
Veteran Dino forward and former four-time Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser said the team needs to be more consistent in the second half of the season. "We need more consistency and we have to show up and play high-level hockey. We have some ups and down. We have the ability, but the best teams are the ones that show up every night," said Wickenheiser.
Wickenheiser has had a lot of experience playing international teams and enjoys the challenge. "I have played [Russia] in numerous Olympics and world championships and they have improved and are getting better," she said.
Competing in the Olympics and switching to the cis level has been an adjustment, but for Wickenheiser it has been a fun ride. "The games we play are one-goal games and could go either way," she said. "The girls work hard and it makes it fun coming to the rink everyday -- it has been the hardest type of hockey I have played."
Fourth-year kinesiology student and Dinos forward Tanya Morgan thought playing the Russian team was a good experience, but was disappointed with the result.
"It was an opportunity to make ourselves better and improve," she said. "As a team, I expect us to get better every game and progress to our goal to win the league and nationals."
Morgan said Wickenheiser is "a great asset on the ice and a great mentor" and brings a lot to the team.
Following the 2010 Winter Olympics, Wickenheiser decided she wanted to come back and finish her degree in kinesiology.
"The plan after the Olympics was to come back and finish my degree," said Wickenheiser. "I have a couple of years left and I wanted to stay in Calgary. I have family here and I can train at the same time -- that keeps me busy."