Womens hockey teams still reeling from tournament cancellations

A swirl of emotions reached players on the Canadian women’s hockey team as they packed their bags in Halifax and headed home before their respective tournament proceedings.

All systems appeared go for the women’s world championship May 6-16 in Halifax and Truro, Nove Scotia, until premier Iain Rankin pulled the plug over concerns about COVID-19.

Nine other teams would have arrived to join Canada in a 14-day quarantine before the tournament.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer Robert Strang had given his approval for the tournament a day earlier, which sharpened the sting for the Canadian women.

In a span of two days, they’d gone from anticipating the announcement of the finalized roster to grabbing luggage and going home.

The 2021 women’s world hockey championship is hoped to now be held from Aug. 20-31 at a site in Canada that has yet to be determined, the IIHF announced Friday.

“The players, the teams, Hockey Canada, and the IIHF have been placed in a difficult position due to the sudden cancellation. But this is not an excuse to operate this tournament as a half-measure,” IIHF President René Fasel said in a statement announcing the new dates.

“We needed a range of dates that can work for the teams and also would allow for comprehensive broadcast coverage as well as a chance for spectators to be able to attend the games.”

The announcement of new dates comes after the tournament was cancelled for a second consecutive year on short notice.

Players around the world took to social media and other platforms to protest the cancellation.

Although Brigette Lacquette has shared commentary on the topic, Jamie Lee Rattray, Metis, was forward with her thoughts:

“After being home for a couple days and processing the news that came Wednesday afternoon, I still sit here feeling a little bit numb. Over the last two year women’s hockey has had to be flexible, we’ve had to continuously be resilient through leagues folding, World Championships cancelled and very little competition. Even still, everyone in this community has gotten up every single day and continued to try and push this sport forward.

Fourteen months ago when the World Championship was cancelled, every athlete involved started working for the next opportunity to compete. At the time, no one knew when that might be, but we still got up everyday and went to work. We worked out in garages, living rooms, backyards. We found a way. We practiced alone. Small groups. No games for 14 months. Still, we found a way. So why can’t someone find a way for us?”

Her sentiment echoed many in the sphere, as she finished her statement reminding of the resiliency of the sport and the women that play it.

The IIHF announced that it had no Plan B in place due to the costs and logistics required to pull off a tournament shortly after the cancellation — including securing hotel rooms and ice time. There is still work to be done securing a new venue for the event, with Edmonton and Ottawa among the cities rumoured to be interested in hosting.

The new dates chosen will allow the tournament to be played before players return to their club teams to begin the next regular season and will not conflict with November’s qualifying tournament for the Olympics.

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