Tag:Women's Hockey
Posted on: February 25, 2010 3:16 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2010 3:59 pm

Granato, nations ready for USA vs. Canada

By Ina Fried

The next installment in the Canada vs. United States hockey battle takes place later on Thursday as the women's teams battle for the gold medal.

I had a chance Wednesday night to catch up with Cammi Granato, captain of the U.S. team that captured the gold medal in 1998 in Nagano, Japan. As for what it will take for the U.S. to win a second gold medal, Granato said the keys will be excellent goaltending and solid work on both power plays and penalty killing.

"If they just play loose," Granato said, "Canada's got more pressure on."

Granato, who is now retired and a commentator for NBC, recalled her Olympic experience at an event hosted by computer maker Acer. Inspired by the 1980 "Miracle on Ice," Granato said she grew up, like her three brothers, wanting to play for Team USA.

"All of our games in the basement revolved around U.S. versus Russia," Granato said.

At the time, though, that meant making the men's squad. 'I didn't realize being a girl would stop me," she said. Over time, though, that became clearer, even though the Olympic dream did not fade.

Her desire to play in the Olympics only grew when her brother played for the U.S. Olympic team in the 1988 Calgary games. She said she was very thankful that women's hockey was added in 1998, allowing her dream to come true.

For other women, though, that dream could be in jeopardy. The buzz at the games is that the continued inclusion of women's hockey could come under scrutiny because the U.S. and Canada so thoroughly dominated competition.

Canada and the US are clearly the top two teams in the sport, having split most of the major international championships, although the U.S was upset by Sweden in the semifinals in 2006 in Torino, with the U.S. having to settle for the Bronze.

Canada is going for its third gold medal in a row, but the U.S. has won the last two world championships. In exhibition matches during the 2009-2010 season, Canada won five of six contests.

Canadian star Hayley Wickenheiser acknowledged both the men's and women's team from the host country are under pressure.

"We talk about it openly and it's a burden we share together, a positive one and we sort of joke about it," she told reporters on Wednesday. "It's an honor and definitely a responsibility."

As for playing in front of a huge Canadian crowd, American forward Monique Lamoureux said she isn't to worried.

"For me, when everyone is cheering against you, half the time you don't understand what they are saying," she told reporters on Wednesday. "It's just a bunch of noise."

According to reports, IOC chairman Jacques Rogge has said that women's hockey needs to be more competitive to remain in the games.

"There is a discrepancy there, everyone agrees with that," Rogge was quoted as saying in the Vancouver Sun. "This is maybe the investment period in women's ice hockey. I would personally give them more time to grow but there must be a period of improvement. We cannot continue without improvement."

Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried

Posted on: February 20, 2010 9:53 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2010 9:55 pm

Olympic notebook: Honoring Gretzky

By Ina Fried

At a ceremony on Friday night, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky was honored for his contributions and put on the spot.

Hockey fans gathered at the Molson Hockey House downtown for a tribute to Gretzky but they also wanted to know whether the Great One thought this year's team has what it takes to win the Olympic hockey tournament. Well, rest comfortable, Canadians. he picked the home team to win gold.

Gretzky, who for many is still the face of Canadian Hockey -- praised the work of another NHL great -- Steve Yzerman -- in putting together the team that is competing in Vancouver.

"It's his focus that is going to win this team the Gold medal," Gretzky said, brushing off concerns after the Canadian team needed a shootout to take down the Swiss. Canada will take on the U.S. on Sunday.

As part of the tribute, former teammates Grant Fuhr and Kevin Lowe spoke, as did longtime rival Lanny McDonald, who joked about the many, many goals Gretzky scored against McDonald's Calgary Flames over the years.

They also showed the top 99 highlights of Gretzky's career during the event, saving the top three for his on-stage appearance, so he could comment.

Women's hockey
While I spent Friday night at the Gretzky tribute and watching several men's hockey games on TV, on Saturday I had the chance to check out some women's hockey in person.

Heading out to the smaller of the two hockey venues, I wasn't sure if there would be a bit of the letdown as neither China nor Switzerland are among the elite teams and the best either can finish was fifth.

I knew from the moment I got in the gates that it would be fine. Outside the game there were people smiling laughing and enjoying the unbelivable sunny weather that has tons of people calling this the spring Olympics.

While their were more kids getting piggy-back rides and fewer people in face paint, the excitement was just as high.

As I, too enjoyed some pre-game sun, I ran into American Eric Elting, decked out in a Canada shirt and Canadian Lorinda Haider wearing a Team USA shirt.

Photo Gallery: China vs. Switzerland

"We had a bet," Elting said. The couple, which dates long distance, had a wager to see who would make it to the gym more before the Olympics. Since it was a tie, each had to come in the other's national colors. As for why they chose this game, like many in the crowd, they wanted to go to the games and these tickets were what was available. "We just picked what was left," Haider said.

On the inside, it was a mix.

Stephanie Carr was part of a group each wearing both Canada and Norway shirts -- neither of which was playing at Thunderbird Arena on Saturday. It turns out they are Carr is Canadian, but of Norwegian heritage. As for choosing this match, Carr is just trying to soak up as much of the Olympic experience as she can. "We love the atmosphere," she said.

Thomas Wu, meanwhile, was a man on a mission. Waving a Chinese flag and leading a cheer that translated roughly to "Team China, add oil", Wu has been to each of the Chinese women's hockey games.

"They have played very hard against strong teams ranked higher," said Wu, who is the founder of the six-year-old Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey which teaches children to play the sport. "At times they have been a little nervous. With experience I think they will play even better."

In the end, the Swiss were too much for the Chinese, winning 6-0, but Wu proudly waved his flag throghout, never wavering in his cheers despite the score.

Ina Fried is a Senior Writer for CNET News. She will be in Vancouver covering various angles for both CBSSports.com and her CNET Blog " Beyond B1nary ". You can also follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/Inafried
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com