VANCOUVER – With over ten years experience and two Olympic gold medals to her name, Caroline Ouellette is a bona fide veteran of women’s international hockey. Even with so many impressive achievements, she admits being in Vancouver in front of Canadian fans is more than just a little special.
“This makes me so proud because everywhere we go there are people wearing the Canadian jersey,” she said. “Every athlete dreams to go to the Olympics but to be competing in the Olympics in your own country is the ultimate dream.”
The fans at the UBC Thunderbird Arena have been solidly behind their team. Even with expectations high, fans have been respectable to the Canada's opponents. When Canada trounced Slovakia 18-0 on Saturday, the fans still gave a nod to the Slovaks with a standing ovation.
“I was so proud when the fans gave them a standing ovation. It brought tears to our eyes and made us incredibly proud to be Canadian because the crowd was so classy towards the other team.”
Ouellette believes the crowd is pushing these women in their efforts here in Vancouver.
Canada has displayed an impressive ability to move quickly from defense to offense and create scoring chances. As a result, Canada has scored 28 goals in their two games.
“We want to use our speed and move our feet but also to move the puck. We have a team that is built around this key component of the game- to be able to go from defense to offense quickly.”
So far it seems to be working out.
At the same time, Canada needs to guard against complacency in winning games by such huge margins. Sometimes bad habits can develop.
“When you play in a game and the score is high you can sometimes try to play individually,” said Ouellette addressing the issue. “But we try to reinforce the importance of keeping the puck moving and using everyone out on the ice.”
Team Canada is built on their talent and chemistry as a team. It’s hard not to create a kinship with individuals who’ve been part of your life for almost a year.
“We’ve been through so much together and have seen every situation in all the games we’ve played,” said the assistant captain in assessing their preparation for Vancouver. “No matter what happens in the next game we know what we need to do.”
Against Sweden, the strategy will be simple and that’s to gain an early advantage on the scoreboard. Against the talented Tre Kronor netminder Kim Martin that might prove challenging, but Ouellette and company are up for it.
“We know (Kim Martin) and that she had a good game against Switzerland,” said Ouellette. “She looks healthy but we need to get to her early and get shots on net through traffic.”